LaVar Ball is the single loudest helicopter parent attached to the NBA pre-draft process in years, and possibly ever. There has probably been more real and virtual ink spilled on him and his antics than on his son, Lonzo Ball, aka the one who will actually play basketball and matters.
Teams like to say they don’t pay attention to the media, but it’s hard not to think the elder Ball won’t be a distraction for whatever franchise selects his son. Will that affect an NBA team’s thought process as they head towards the 2017 NBA Draft? Not according to Lakers president Magic Johnson.
"[No affects] at all. I think what you're drafting is the son and not the father. I think that you also are gauging and evaluating his son on his ability, and what he can do not only on the basketball court, but also what he can do for your team. How he can enhance and make your team better,” Johnson said during an interview on ESPN 2 during the NBA Combine in Chicago.
“So if we're fortunate to keep our pick, wherever that is, then you take a look at him. Just like any team who would be drafting in the top four or five would take a look at him and the other players who are there,” Johnson continued.
The Lakers will surely take a look at Lonzo Ball — who starred locally before averaging 14.6 points and 7.6 assists during his only season at UCLA — not only due to his potentially fun homecoming story, but also because his talents have made him one of four players the front office reportedly has their sights set on if they retain their top-three protected pick.
It’s also not surprising Johnson isn’t worried about the prospects of LaVar Ball and the distractions he creates potentially swirling around the Lakers. From “Showtime” to Shaq and Kobe, the Lakers have always been surrounded by drama. The franchise has thrived in it before, as long as the players are talented enough to fight through it.
The Lakers next year likely won’t be good enough to shrug off distractions by pointing towards their results, but it should be encouraging for fans that Johnson is confident enough in the team’s current infrastructure to not be worried about a few extra headlines from a shoe-hawking, Michael Jordan-trolling dad living vicariously through his son.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here, or listen to our latest episode, featuring a debate over how much LaVar Ball should factor into whether or not the Lakers draft Lonzo Ball below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.