ESPN published an article Sunday morning wherein LaVar Ball had some unflattering things to say about Lakers coach Luke Walton from thousands of miles away. "You can see they’re not playing for Luke no more," Ball said of Walton, during a game that was broadcast at 5 a.m. local time in Birstonas, Lithuania. "Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him."
"That's a good team [the Lakers]. Nobody wants to play for him. I can see it. No high-fives when they come out of the game. People don't know why they're in the game," the bombastic father continued. "He's too young. He's too young. ... He ain't connecting with them anymore. You can look at every player, he's not connecting with not one player."
By Sunday afternoon, ESPN was getting ripped by Rick Carlisle, who doubles as both the coach of the Dallas Mavericks and the president of the NBA's Coaches Association, for giving Ball a platform to publicize those comments.
"As president of the coaches association, I view the recent ESPN article as a disgrace, quite honestly," Carlisle said prior to Dallas's game against the Knicks. "Luke Walton is a terrific, young coach who is bringing along a young team, and it's a difficult task. If you don't believe it, just ask me. We're going through that now and went through that last year."
Carlisle, who actually worked for 'The Worldwide Leader in Sports' as an analyst during the 2007-08 season, then added further context to whom he was criticizing by saying that ESPN should "back up the coaches."
"ESPN is a partner, an NBA partner and they’ve been a great one," Carlisle added. "But part of that partnership is that...the coaches do a lot of things to help them with access, interviews, all those kinds of things. And in exchange for that, they should back up the coaches. Printing an article where the father of an NBA player has an opinion that is printed as anything legitimate erodes trust."
He also defended Walton by bringing up the 24-0 start the 2015-16 Warriors got off to when Luke was an interim coach as Steve Kerr rehabbed his back.
"It erodes the trust that we built with ESPN and our coaches are upset because Luke Walton does not deserve that," he said. "Two years ago he took a veteran team and led them to 24 wins in a row. That is an amazing accomplishment. Off of that, he earned the Laker job. To have to deal with these kinds of ignorant distractions is deplorable."
When asked by an ESPN reporter if he was suggesting the network should determine their news based upon what coaches will like, Carlisle responded by saying "No, I’m saying that they should look at their sources and do a better job of determining whether they have any merit or any validity. Or are they just blowhard loud-mouths.”
For those who may be wondering, the Lakers play Dallas this upcoming Saturday, January 13.