“Why isn’t my kid playing, coach? He’s the best one on the team.”
We’ve all heard these words in some form or another from our parent or guardian while competing in sports; words of support blurred by the bias of love from the ones who’ve helped raise us. Recently, no words have been louder than those of Lavar Ball, father of UCLA star Lonzo Ball. Of his many controversial statements, his most outlandish came when asked about his son’s comparison to NBA guard Stephen Curry.
“Do I think he can be as good as Steph Curry in the NBA?” Ball said. “Heck no. He gon’ be better than Steph Curry in the NBA.”
Nothing like a father’s love.
Just to be clear, Lonzo Ball is a 19-year-hoop star at UCLA. A great player, albeit young, he will probably be a top three draft pick pending his decision to leave college this year. He is currently a finalist in voting for the Naismith Award, which recognizes arguably the single best player in NCAA Division I college basketball. With current freshmen averages such as 14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, and a whopping 7.6 assists, there is no doubt that he is a great player.
And his adversary?
With the NBA being arguably the best basketball league in the world, a reigning MVP of the NBA would classify him as arguably the best player in the world.
Meet Stephen Curry.
Those credentials are enough to stop any argument from saying a 19-year-old kid is already going to eclipse those achievements. The reigning NBA scoring champion and steals leader was asked about Ball’s outlandish statements in a recent interview.
“I don’t want to talk about that. I wish his kids the best,” Curry said.
Way to take the high road, Steph.
There is a huge difference between being a proud parent, and being simply ignorant, as the statistics above show. I’m all for being a visible presence in your child’s life, especially as an African-American father.
Dr. Todd Boyd, a professor of race and pop culture at USC, weighed in on Ball’s appearance in Lonzo’s life.
“I think there’s a stereotype in the culture at large of the absent black father,” Boyd said in an interview with Mic. “So many stories we hear about athletes have to do with absent black father image, and he’s obviously not absent. He’s very present.”
Ball himself has stated similarly that America is afraid of the black father because of its elusiveness in sports. Though true, this is a deflection made to hide his ignorant and out-of-pocket statements to the media.
Lonzo is not in high school anymore. In a few months, he’ll be making millions of dollars as a pro ball player. The need to speak for him and make statements on his behalf has been over for quite some time.
What’s worse is Ball’s’s lack of knowing when to shut up can hurt his son’s professional career.
NBA executives and owners may not want to hear Ball his son isn’t getting the playing time or numbers that he expects. His ego could undoubtedly rub some coaches the wrong way. One thing for sure is Ball loves his kids and seems like a great father. However, putting that kind of pressure on your children can only do one of two things: bust pipes or make diamonds.