LaVar Ball, the patriarch of the basketball playing Ball brothers of Chino Hills, Cali., has become a star of sorts in the sense that he’s regularly put on camera with a microphone in his face to say outlandish things, to which he happily does.
Ball will tell you that he could beat Michael Jordan in 1-on-1, that his son Lonzo is better than Steph Curry, that UCLA lost because of slow white guys, that his sons will need $1 billion to ink a shoe deal, and really anything else that will move the needle and get his family or himself into the spotlight. Few are better at accomplishing the goal of drawing attention than LaVar Ball and DeMarcus Cousins thinks he’s a legend, but not everyone is a fan.
Some have postulated that he may be hurting his son’s draft stock, while others just want him to shut up. However, the strongest anti-LaVar Ball take now belongs to Nike executive George Raveling, who said Ball is the worst thing to happen to basketball.
That’s an extremely hot take, and it’s not surprising that it comes from a shoe company executive, who probably isn’t happy that Ball thinks his Big Baller Brand can come up and compete with the big boys at the NBA level. I understand where the frustration with LaVar Ball comes from, but, come on, this isn’t anywhere close to the worst thing to happen to basketball in the last 100 years.
Hell, I can come up with five things from the last decade or so that have been worse than LaVar Ball for the sport of basketball.
5. Canceling SlamBall and taking the And1 Mixtape Tour off the air: This is more of a personal issue, but I feel like many of you will feel the same way. Growing up both of these were extremely crucial in my formative and teen years to loving basketball. I demand that the powers that be bring them back.
4. The Dunk Contest in the mid-to-late 2000s: A hat tip to Zach Harper here, who mentioned the Dunk Wheel on Twitter, but really let’s throw in the entire run when they kept changing up the format in an effort to make it fun before Blake Griffin salvaged it and Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon really, truly saved it. The dunk contest was extremely trash for some years and set us all back.
3. The 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats: 7-59. I know it was a lockout year, so the 7 wins has an asterisk, but my god that team was atrocious. The saddest thing is that they didn’t even manage to get the No. 1 pick and ended up with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — a very nice player — instead of Anthony Davis. Honorable mention goes to the 2015-16 Sixers that went 10-72, but at least they got Ben Simmons out of it.
2. Camera phones/SnapChat/TMZ: The combination of all three of these things has made going out a dangerous proposition for NBA players. Someone’s always recording something, SnapChat is a great way to get yourself in trouble, and TMZ is always lurking. For fans, these might be seen as a good thing because they give us access into players’ lives, but players would probably be happy to have them go away because it’s really hindering their ability to run around at clubs and get wild.
1. Phil Jackson running the Knicks: I’m not even a Knicks fan, but he’s managed to ruin the Knicks more than they already were and put a dent in his once impenetrable legacy, which is an impressive feat and way worse than anything LaVar Ball has done.
In the grand scheme of things, Ball is pretty harmless. There are lots of things that have been worse for basketball and the NBA than LaVar Ball talking a big game, and I’m sure you can come up with plenty more, too (feel free to put them in the comments below).