There are a lot of people out there who think LaVar Ball is hurting his son Lonzo by putting on a show every time someone sticks a microphone in his face. Some think LaVar is going to end up doing damage to Lonzo’s draft stock in the weeks leading up to the 2017 NBA Draft, while others have theorized that LaVar is going to serve as a huge distraction for Lonzo once his NBA career starts. Either way, LaVar’s critics have called him out for stealing the spotlight from Lonzo in an effort to promote the Ball family’s Big Baller Brand.
But former sports agent and NFL team executive Andrew Brandt doesn’t see things that way. Brandt—who is now a columnist for TheMMQB—penned a piece about Ball called "LaVar Ball Is Just Another Guy in the Herd" that details some of the experiences he had with fathers—and mothers and brothers and aunts and uncles, etc.—like Ball over the years during his time as an agent. According to Brandt, there are "hundreds, if not thousands, of LaVar Balls out there, of all shapes, sizes, genders, race, and age." And while Brandt admits LaVar is "more vocal" and "more public" than most of them—partly because he has a forum that they don’t have—he doesn’t consider LaVar to be all that unique.
Brandt also doesn’t consider LaVar to be the problem that other people seem to think he is. Rather, he views LaVar as the perfect "no guy" for Lonzo, which is to say that he has put himself in a good position to deflect any negativity that might come Lonzo’s way. From friends asking Lonzo for monetary favors to members of the media reaching out to Lonzo to do stories on him that might not paint him in the most favorable light, Brandt think LaVar will be able to keep Lonzo insulated from the outside world in a way that most of other "no guys" wouldn’t be able to do. He will be able to say no when Lonzo can’t, and in Brandt’s opinion, that will give Lonzo a huge advantage over other young players in this year’s draft.
Here is an excerpt from Brandt’s piece:
I have heard the narrative about him being "a distraction" with his bravado and shameless promotion of Big Baller Brand. However, I do not see any of this negatively affecting his son, Lonzo. To the contrary, the elder Ball seems to be protecting his son from inevitable other influences that have—and will—come Lonzo’s way. LaVar seems perfectly suited to be the true “no guy,” ready to block those who have less concern for his son than he. It appears the only “herd” around Lonzo Ball and his brothers is LaVar; no new friends, no new advisors, no associates with their hands out. Sure, LaVar is catnip to sports television and radio programming, but he seems as effective in protecting Lonzo’s interests as any manager, marketer or agent.
Elsewhere in the piece, Brandt also discusses some of the athletes he’s worked with who haven’t had someone like LaVar in their corner, and he makes a compelling argument for why we should all cut LaVar some slack and stop criticizing his every move. You can check out the full piece here. It’s an interesting and well thought-out take on a topic that has touched a lot of nerves in recent months.