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There’s nothing endearing about LaVar Ball’s greed and delusion

03.14.17 at 1:54 pm ET
Laval Ball (right), says he wants to secure a $1 billion shoe contract for his sons. (Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

LaVar Ball (right), says he wants to secure a $1 billion shoe contract for his sons. (Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

With the NCAA men’s basketball tournament starting this week, expect to start hearing a lot about UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball. The standout freshman is pegged for NBA superstardom, and will likely be a top pick in this year’s draft. Since the Celtics control the lowly Nets’ first-round selection, there’s a chance he could wind up in Boston.

If the Celtics draft Ball, that means his delusional and greedy father would likely come here as well. Turner Sports, which broadcasts the tournament, may attempt to soften LaVar Ball’s image over the next three weeks with puff pieces and lighthearted interviews. SB Nation has already started, publishing an article about how Ball is a “good sports dad.”

But don’t let the potentially forthcoming PR blitz fool you: There’s nothing endearing about this shallow, egotistical man.

Ball’s repulsive persona is highlighted in a recent USA Today profile, titled, “LaVar Ball and his boys are here to change the world.” In it, the family’s patriarch brags about buying his boys luxury cars, his plans to secure them a $1 billion shoe contract and an apparently fabricated college football tryout. He sounds like a total jerk.

Perhaps the biggest headline to emanate from the piece is Ball’s desire to ink a $1 billion merchandise deal for his kids. His two other sons, LiAngelo (high school senior) and LaMelo (high school sophomore), are already both committed to UCLA as well. Last month, LaMelo Ball attracted headlines –– and criticism –– for a 92-point performance during one of his high school games.

With that kind of talent talent under his roof, Ball says he’s holding out for one of the biggest shoe contracts in history.

“A billion dollars, it has to be there,” he said. “That’s our number, a billion, straight out of the gate. And you don’t even have to give it to me all up front. Give us $100 mil over 10 years.”

That figure would put the Ball boys in line with LeBron James, who inked a deal with Nike last year worth more than $1 billion. While it’s nice to be proud of your kids, calculating their worth in the form of a high-priced shoe contract seems grotesque and exploitive. It sounds like something a less charming Gordon Gekko would say if he were to have children.

But then again, this is the man who buys his boys $100,000 BMWs, because they’re so damn good at basketball.

“To get my boys a little $100,000 car, that’s nothing,’’ he said. “I don’t have to pay for education. I’m saving over $1 million dollars.”

Questionable math aside –– as USA Today points out, Ball would only save around $400,000 if all of his kids went to UCLA for all four years –– this sounds like a man who’s intent on flaunting his alleged wealth. There’s nothing cool about a show-off, especially when he appears to be using his kids as props.

It’s apparent Ball is exploiting his teenage sons to create a family brand. He sells merchandise for $100 and even hired a videographer to chronicle his family’s life for a possible TV show. If Ball’s kids are in the spotlight, he’s in the spotlight. Then he can tell asinine stories about being able to beat Michael Jordan in a pickup game.

“Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one,’’ he said in the piece.

In his one season at Washington State during the 1987-88 season, Ball averaged 2.2 points and 2.3 rebounds a game. That doesn’t sound like somebody who was ready to play on the varsity squad, never mind take down maybe the greatest basketball player of all-time during the prime of his career.

But at least Ball actually played basketball, meaning there’s a kernel of truth to his delusions of on-court grandeur . The same can’t be said for his stories of football excellence. In the article, Ball talks about how then-Washington state football coach Dennis Erickson offered him a spot on the team after he impressed during a tryout. Erickson, when asked about Ball’s recollection, said he doesn’t remember him.

If Ball’s sons weren’t incredible basketball players, there’s a good chance he would be universally derided as a megalomaniac. A man’s talented offspring shouldn’t excuse his nauseating self-absorption.

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