Here Comes LaVar

As Lonzo Ball heads to the Pelicans, LaVar Ball will make his appearance in New Orleans
LaVar Ball speaks to the media in Vilnius, Lithuania. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

 

Unless you live under a rock – inside of a cave, inside a remote jungle, amid an as-yet-undiscovered indigenous Amazonian peoples (with no WiFi) – then you have no doubt heard the news:

New Orleans is about the get a new member to its community, a veritable man-child whose very presence will not alter just the sports environment here, but the entire cultural discourse.

He’s a larger than life commodity who will bring our lowly basketball franchise heretofore unprecedented attention, perhaps even notoriety; an outsized personality the likes of which – even considering our well-documented history of singularly colorful characters – we have never seen before.

He’s the kind of guy who comes along once in a generation. Transformational, even. You think I exaggerate? I think not!

Oh, and the Pelicans also drafted Zion Williamson last week.

You thought that’s who I was talking about? Oh, hell no! Sure, he’s a great basketball player all right, maybe even a future champion. But the reason I am intoxicated with the exuberance of my own verbosity is the pending arrival on our shores of the inestimable, inscrutable, inevitable and incessant Mr. LaVar Ball.

Are you familiar? If not, allow me to introduce you: LaVar is the father of Lonzo Ball, the slick, chirpy point guard the Pels acquired in the blockbuster deal that sent Anthony Davis to the L.A. Lakers this month.

There is still some question as to whether Lonzo will satisfy the great potential and expectations heaped upon him so early in his career (he’s still a kid after all) but, his father? Oh, that Mac-Daddy has already filled the biggest of big shoes. USA Today called him “the worst sports parent ever.”

And that’s saying a lot. Considering the Hall of Famers who have come – and gone – before him. And there’s the rub.

I am not privy to the details of Lonzo’s professional contracts, but I do know this: If you get Lonzo, you get LaVar. Like it or not. And he makes all other gloating, egomaniac, loud-mouthed backstage parents in the age of TMZ look like amateurs, pikers, scrubs.

Prior to getting banned for life from the studios of ESPN just last week for inappropriate sexual innuendo towards a female host on the air last week – not long after getting reprimanded for similar incursions over on FOX Sports – he has accrued affronts against norms and politesse the way we expect Zion to collect points and rebounds.

There is not a microphone from which LaVar Ball will turn away. Filled with reckless whimsy and grandiosity, he is a force of nature. And noise.

For years, he has been sitting behind the bench at the L.A. Coliseum heckling Lakers coach Luke Walton. He’s that Little League dad who yells at the coach to put his son in the game, and then says the team lost because he didn’t. But instead of some suburban playground, LaVar has been doing this on the biggest stage in sports. To the point where, in 2017, the Lakers instituted the “LaVar Ball Rule,” which bans members of the media from interviewing players’ relatives during or after home games.

So he took his show on the road. Took it international, in fact. In 2018, he pulled his younger teenage sons – LiAngelo and LeMelo – out of school and took them to play professional basketball in Lithuania because they weren’t getting enough respect – and playing time – here in the U.S.

Yes, Lithuania. Where he became an instant celebrity, naturally, heckling the coach and spouting off what must have been incomprehensible American colloquialisms to their national press. That is, until one game when neither of his kids got to play, so he uprooted them back to the States.

Since no one will give his kids lucrative sneaker endorsement deals, he started the Big Baller Brand, selling high-end kicks for $495. He corralled his kids into signing on to his reality show, Ball in the Family. (Get it?)

He said that he could beat Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one. And after LiAngelo got arrested for shoplifting sunglasses at a Louis Vuitton boutique in China, he got into a pissing match with Donald Trump, who wanted credit for securing DiAngelo’s release from a Chinese prison.

Trump wanted a public thank you. LaVar refused. Trump called him an “ungrateful fool.”

Insulted by the President. LaVar had made the genuine Big Time.

So that’s just a brief intro to the human nitro who is no doubt targeting New Orleans as his next media conquest. And no doubt, he will be accommodated.

And no doubt, if you haven’t heard of him yet….you will soon. Training camp is just a few short months away.

Bienvenu a Louisiane, LaVar. Let the Bon Temps start roulez-ing.

 

 

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