In the lead up to the NBA Draft in June, there was some increasing intrigue over whether the Los Angeles Lakers would take a player other than Lonzo Ball with the second pick.
Ball had seemed like the obvious choice for months — a flashy, pass-first point guard who grew up in Chino Hills, California, and starred at UCLA.
However, in addition to a deep and talented draft class, another revelation raised concerns for some — Lonzo’s father, LaVar.
As LaVar Ball increasingly became a national media figure for his outspoken and sometimes controversial promotion of his family brand, Big Ball Brand, some felt that he may be a distraction and unwanted voice around any team that drafted Lonzo.
However, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, the Lakers and president Magic Johnson’s fears were assuaged when Johnson and LaVar had a sit-down talk and LaVar made a rare, honest confession to Magic: it’s all marketing.
“But when the Lakers came to his house, LaVar broke character — or caricature — and said the one thing professional hype masters never reveal.
“‘He just said it’s marketing,’ Johnson says. ‘That’s what he had to do to market not only his son but the brand. Before I met him I had already thought that. I already knew what he was doing.’
“But hearing it straight from LaVar’s mouth helped put Johnson and Pelinka at ease.
“As Johnson recalls, ‘He said, “Earvin, look, I’m not following my son. I’m not going to be hanging out in L.A. I’m going to be training these young kids [his other sons].'””
Additionally, LaVar told Shelburne that he told Johnson that Lonzo was in Johnson’s hands now.
“‘As far as training my boy, this is as far as I can take him,’ LaVar says he told Johnson. ‘I’ll leave it up to you to take him further. You can get him better with the film time and the coaching. You can take him to another level.'”
“‘I trust you with my boy. I just got a great feeling that you guys are going to take Zo to a whole other level.'”
Of course, whether LaVar actually remains out of the picture should the Lakers or Lonzo struggle remains to be seen, but the admission confirms a widely held theory — it’s an act to get attention. While it may rub some the wrong way, it’s effective nonetheless.
LaVar has said all along that he would speak Lonzo going to the Lakers into existence, and it finally happened. But perhaps his own admission to the team president is what sealed the deal.
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