Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

Hear me out...Life's three guarantees: death, taxes and LaVar Ball pulling publicity stunts


December 9, 2017

Benjamin Franklin is often credited with creating the idiom nothing is certain except death and taxes. While true that Franklin wrote, "Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." It was actually English actor Christopher Bullock first to say, on record that is, "Tis impossible to be sure of anything but Death and Taxes" during the play "The Cobler of Preston" in 1716.

There's a mildly interesting factoid for you, how does it relate today's column? Easy, I feel if either man had lived during our time they'd add LaVar Ball creating media spectacles to the list of certainties.

Last year, while his son Lonzo was playing for UCLA, LaVar burst onto the scene by making absurd, but entertaining, proclamations, like Lonzo was better than two-time MVP Steph Curry; he, LaVar, could beat Michael Jordan in one-on-one; UCLA lost in the NCAA tournament because they had too many white players; the list goes on and on.

After his "feud" with President Trump, LaVar Ball elevated his exposure to the national level. Now everyone is beginning to know his name.

This week LaVar continued his DiMaggio-esque streak of outlandish media stunts by pulling his second son, LiAngelo the shoplifter, from UCLA and announcing that LiAngelo and LaMelo, the youngest of the Ball boys who LaVar already pulled from high school during the fall, were going to play overseas until they were ready for the NBA draft.

If you listened or read any NBA insider, who talked with NBA scouts, GMs and personnel directors, they all came away saying how incredibly short-sighted this move was. LiAngelo a fringe NBA prospect, wasn't going to start for UCLA whenever he was reinstated and most agree that for him to make the NBA he'd have to go through the NBA G-League first. LaMelo is a bit of an unknown, he can score but that's about it. He definitely needs to hit another growth spurt, but even with a growth spurt, he might be a player who takes too much off the table to be worth it.

But for all his annoying, trash-talking obnoxiousness, LaVar loves his boys. Watch him in an interview, you'll have to push aside all the chirping but you'll see a supportive loving father. Absolutely, he's 100 percent overbearing and maddening, (I'm starting to run out of adjectives to describe this guy) but he wants the best for his sons.

While many believe, myself included, pulling LiAngelo and LaMelo was the wrong call basketball-wise, it might have been for the best for the Ball family as a whole. LaVar started his own shoe/athletic apparel company with his sons, Big Baller Brand (BBB), and has been trying to get things rolling. When the big shoe companies like Nike and Adidas were trying to sign Lonzo, LaVar went into those meetings seeking a partnership deal, and nothing else. It was an incredibly audacious move, it didn't work, but still impressive.

Now that BBB is left to their own devices and Lonzo hasn't found his rhythm just yet in the NBA, how else is he going to bring exposure to the brand? Going overseas to India or, fingers-crossed, China are excellent options. This also allows for LiAngelo and LaMelo to improve their games, away from the scrutiny of the American sports media and build a large overseas following.

As crass as he is, LaVar understands the media and plays it like a harp. Look no further to the CNN interview with Chris Cuomo. He was there for one thing and one thing only, to take advantage of the free publicity. Poor Cuomo, an experienced journalist, didn't stand a chance either, it was a bloodbath.

Personally, I don't care for LaVar, but at times I find him entertaining and there are things that I respect him for. He's all about his family, how he's trying to go around Nike and Adidas and he doesn't care what me, you or anyone, outside the people he cares for, thinks.

As long as there are cameras, mics or newspapers, you can bet LaVar will find a way to have them drawn to him. I wouldn't be surprised if he starts 10-15 more "beefs" with Trump by 2020.

So until the next LaVar media stunt.


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