If you think it's hard to avoid the LaVar Ball circus as a basketball fan, imagine your life's work being tied to covering college basketball and prospects headed to the NBA. Lonzo Ball's father is impossible to escape for members of the media, with some analysts basically forced to comment on his antics after he appears on another show within their network.
But one of those analysts has had enough of Ball, and he's not afraid to let it be known. Jay Bilas, the former Duke basketball player tasked with covering the game for ESPN, wrote a lengthy piece for ESPN.com on Monday morning sparked by an incident late last week in which Ball accosted a female ref working during one of his team's AAU games.
First comparing Ball to a "basketball Kardashian," Bilas confessed to being enamored by the spectacle and the ridiculous claims right up until he felt Ball crossed some lines that shouldn't be crossed. Now, he says, he simply sees Ball as a talentless hack.
"One is left wondering what are LaVar's attention-grabbing talents. To my eye, he has none," said Bilas. "His 'talent,' if you wish to stretch the word, is his shamelessness in saying the outrageous, the outlandish and the demonstrably untrue. He was of little consequence as an athlete himself. I do not know of any major accomplishments in any area of business or entrepreneurship (outside of his Big Baller Brand, built off the talent of Lonzo, his oldest son) worthy of public recognition."
I'm not sure if this is entirely fair to LaVar. For whatever you think of his tactics, his opinions, and the way he has inserted himself into the spotlight, he has made himself and the name of his company a household name through his bombastic personality. That is something most companies pay a fortune to accomplish with a massive team of people, and he has done it almost single-handedly with Big Baller Brand.
From there, the critique only got harsher. After denouncing Ball's public degrading of several women, including his now infamous rant directed at Fox Sports' Kristine Leahy, Bilas punctuated his rant with an alteration of his initial read of Ball.
If he apologizes to the women he has insulted and changes his bizarre behavior, I can certainly change my mind. But absent that, I will no longer laugh at the behavior of LaVar Ball, nor will I participate in the coverage of his prattle and hot air. It is not worthy of our coverage and not at all funny anymore. I was wrong about LaVar Ball. He is not a Kardashian. That is far too kind. He is a misogynistic buffoon unworthy of my time.
Unlike in his war of words with Joel Embiid, who he mocked for having a supposedly limited intellect, Ball can't deflect the criticism by shifting the attention to his opponent using a curse word. Bilas was a better basketball player than Ball ever was, is one of the most respected voices in the sport, and provided a measured, cutting criticism of a man many basketball fans have grown sick of.
While we all wait for Ball's inevitable response to the criticism, let's hope this can be turned into a teachable moment for all involved, instead of another excuse for Ball to go on a tirade. Though his act has worked for him up until this point, Ball has already forced certain segments of fans to tune him out entirely. If he just retreats further into a defensive stance, unwilling to grapple with legitimate critique, the number of people who take him seriously will continue to dwindle.
You can read Bilas' full piece here.