Believing in your son: What LaVar Ball is doing is actually a good thing

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Lonzo Ball in the McDonald’s All-American game. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Henry Schweber

If you’ve looked at a single sports news source over the last week, chances are you’ve seen the name LaVar Ball.

Ball, the father of UCLA point guard and star prospect Lonzo Ball, has said many outlandish things about his son’s abilities, as well as his own. He said that his son is already better than Golden State Warriors’ point guard Steph Curry. He also said that he could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one (LaVar Ball averaged 2.2 points per game in college).

Comments about him flood every ESPN and Bleacher Report post on social media. They range from poorly attempted jokes trying to grasp at his braggadocious nature all the way to bashing him for taking the attention away from his son.

What most of these posts have in common is that they’re typically negative in nature. I’m here to tell you that’s a bad thing.

Listen, I understand the criticisms. The dad is too overbearing, he makes outrageous claims with no substance in an effort to snag a media headline for a day and he sometimes seems to overshadow his son – a potential number one overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft. One may say that LaVar is being selfish, living vicariously through his son and that it will lead to disastrous results.

But when we look at Lonzo’s success, it may be in part because of his dad, rather than in spite of him. After averaging 15 points, six rebounds and a little under eight assists per game in his freshman year at UCLA, Lonzo has started the NCAA tournament on a tear, ripping off wins against Kent State and Cincinnati. He’s continued to carry over his efficient shooting (56 percent from the field, 42 percent from beyond the arc during the regular season) into tournament play, missing only one shot in their first round blowout win and shooting a crisp 7-10 in their convincing win over Cincinnati. Hitting 34 minutes in his first game and 38 in his second, it would seem as though Lonzo could have fatigue settle in, causing potential carelessness, but over his first two tournament games he’s only turned the ball over twice.

The only thing holding him back, critics will say, is his dad. Media outlets have been focusing their attention on him, just waiting for the next crazy thing to come out of his mouth. But what’s so bad about these statements? In an age where media coverage is as important as ever and there’s no such thing as bad press, LaVar’s statements focus more attention on his son’s magnificent season and allows his star to shine brighter on the biggest of stages.

If you’re Lonzo, wouldn’t you rather have a father that pushes you to be the best you can possibly be while believing in your work ethic and talent above all else, even if it’s possibly irrational? With every effort that Lonzo made to be great, LaVar was behind it, and that’s something that isn’t seen in an ESPN headline.