In the world of basketball, there is always controversy and debates amongst fans. Who’s the G.O.A.T.? Who’s the most overrated? Who’s a traitor (*cough* Durant *cough*)? For the past few months, one man has been getting a lot of attention, both negative and positive, but mostly negative. That man is the now infamous Lavar Ball. While most see him as a delusional man who runs his mouth too much, others see him as a brave entrepreneur who’s taking big risks for the sake of the bigger picture. The question that begs to be asked is whether the hate he receives from the public is warranted, or is there another reason why people refuse to give the man a chance?
Apart from his somewhat laughable claims that he could “beat Jordan one on one in his prime” and that his son Lonzo is a powerhouse of a player that not even Steph Curry can compare to, Lavar Ball has often been ridiculed for his decision making regarding the Big Baller Brand line of sneakers. Ball has opted to be completely independent, selling the sneakers for nearly $500 a piece, turning down deals with major companies such as Nike, and even saying that he won’t settle for anything less than a $3 billion, 10-year contract. Many find that Ball’s demands were ludicrous, especially it was recently revealed that Adidas, Nike and Under Armour each offered contracts that were worth $10 million over 5 years. While people call Lavar Ball foolish for turning down the lucrative deals, especially since his son Lonzo has yet to have proven himself in the league, it’s possible that he might see a bigger picture. Honestly, contracts can end up being taken away. A simple mistake, or PR nightmare stemming from overzealous paparazzi, can cost one to lose all endorsements. Despite the price being a little high, and the design being slightly uninspired, it’s very possible that Lavar Ball sees a bigger opportunity in his son being a full owner of his brand. To be perfectly honest, like other trends in clothing and shoes, Big Baller Brand is just a few celebrity endorsements (wearing them in a music video or an event) from being popular enough to do huge sales numbers, even with the high price.
While his choices regarding his deals with bigger companies have simply made Lavar Ball the butt of many jokes and memes on the internet, the criticism he has received for his interviews. First, he was accused of “hating women” after refusing to directly answer questions from “The Herd” co-host Kristine Leahy. Most of the criticism came after he told her that she would “get hers”. This is when not only Leahy, but many media outlets, claimed that he threatened her, ignoring the context of his words, as well as the fact that she and Jason Whitlock both mocked him to the point of being borderline disrespectful on a previous episode. While it seems that Ball didn’t “play nice” with the co-hosts, to say that he was threatening Leahy and hates women is an extremely far stretch. The media also stretched to take his comments about Kyrie Irving out of context. While the topic of Irving’s mother (who passed when Irving was only 4 years old) is a sensitive topic, it doesn’t seem that Ball was malicious in his words. It seems like Ball was simply stating that Irving’s relationship was different with his father because of the dynamic of being a single parent. However, it seems like the media took his words out of context and simply ran with the idea that Lavar Ball was once again being “the bad guy” and insulting Irving.
While it’s understandable that some people may not believe in the hype the way Lavar Ball does, much of the hate he is receiving seems to be unwarranted. The world seems to be all too willing to make Lavar Ball a bad guy, but often needs to stretch his statements and take his words out of context. Plus, using the fact that his AAU team played poorly in a game to spite him seems like a low blow. Only time can tell whether his business endeavors will pay off or cause Lonzo to lose many great opportunities. However, maybe we should at least give Lavar Ball a chance and stop being so eager to make him the villain of the sports world.