By: Oscar Rzodkiewicz, @ORzodkiewicz on Twitter
After another polarizing comment from his father, Lonzo Ball’s professionalism and demeanor deserves a nod.
LaVar Ball is no stranger to making media outlets frenzy over his comments, and his most recent quotes hold no exception. The father of Lakers guard Lonzo Ball criticized Los Angeles’ head coach Luke Walton, saying, “Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him,” according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.
The elder Ball’s comments came after the Lakers’ loss streak was extended to nine after falling to the Charlotte Hornets at home late last week. During the game, Lonzo Ball was taken out in the first quarter, leading LaVar Ball to say, “[Lonzo] was ready to play. Four minutes left in the first quarter, he dunked it, getting in a flow and [coach Walton] sits him down…If he’s ready to play, let him play. Don’t try and monitor no minutes, put on restrictions.”
For what it’s worth, Walton responded to press later by joking, “His dad was talking shit, so I took him out.”
LaVar Ball’s opinions seldom avoid headlines, but most seem to render themselves harmless (and mostly silly) over time. However, after recently being asked by Magic Johnson and other Lakers officials to tone down the criticisms, another direct jab at Walton comes as a serious distraction.
Lonzo Ball was asked about his dad’s comments in an interview and said, “He’s definitely going to have a strong opinion about it. That’s just what it is.”
Lonzo Ball on whether he is happy with Luke Walton as Lakers head coach: “I’ll play for anybody.” pic.twitter.com/9mSQFmReQo
— Bill Oram (@billoram) January 7, 2018
Lonzo Ball tried his best to walk the line between respecting both his dad and his coach, saying, “I go out there and just play,” but this type of situational poise in the 20-year-old rookie should not go unnoticed. The Lakers’ first-round selection in the 2017 NBA Draft has posted 10.2 points per game to go along with 7 rebounds and 6.9 rebounds on below 36% shooting.
After missing over two weeks due to a shoulder injury, Lonzo Ball made it through only one game back before being berated by interviews over these comments by his father, and while this is nothing new for the oldest of the three Ball sons, it’s hard to criticize him on how he has handled the noise.
On one hand, Lonzo Ball has to juggle struggling on a young, unproven roster and keeping in good standing with his coach with still supporting the man who has surrounded his life forever and supplied him with much of his media coverage to date. There are no right answers to the questions Lonzo Ball continues to be asked, but he still refuses to be squeezed by the rock and the hard place, something many players under a much dimmer spotlight have failed to do.
Objectively, Lonzo Ball’s play has had lapses and peaks, as most rookies’ do, but his game alone seems to be making a positive, if slow, transition. No shot, pass, or steal will be able to beat the headlines his father’s comments control, though, and Lonzo Ball’s handling of the heated situation should not go without recognition.