Given all of the soundbites and controversy over the past year, it would be only natural to think that the Los Angeles Lakers front office of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka were at odds with Lonzo Ball’s father, LaVar Ball.
The Ball patriarch hasn’t shied away from criticizing the team, most notably when he suggested head coach Luke Walton had lost the locker room earlier this season.
LaVar has also attempted to leverage the Lakers into making decisions that would get all three of his sons on the roster — most recently when he suggested that the other two’s mere presence would fix Lonzo’s shooting struggles.
There have also been times when LaVar has simply courted controversy for seemingly no reason, like when he happily spoke on the radio about how Lonzo was already a better player than perennial MVP candidate — and possible Lakers trade or free agency target — Kawhi Leonard.
All of that has led some to wonder whether LaVar is a problem for the Lakers, but it seems the team doesn’t think so. Or, at least they don’t according to LaVar himself, who spoke on ESPN L.A. Radio about the “love” he has for his relationship with Johnson and Pelinka (h/t Lakers Nation):
“I love Magic and Rob for one reason, man. I can talk to them down to earth. They’re not going to try to switch things around. They’re going to listen to what I’m saying. I’m going to listen to what they’re saying.”
LaVar listening to what Johnson and Pelinka were saying had seemed to extend to his typically honest — and often controversial — chats with the media until recently, but he says that those comments have been misinterpreted.
LaVar says he isn’t trying to influence the Lakers, he’s just trying to help them, and he appreciates Johnson and Pelinka for understanding that he isn’t trying to create any issues:
“What happens is, things get misconstrued outside. This sells better: ‘What is Magic going to tell LaVar?!’ He’s not going to tell me nothing. I’m a grown a** man. What am I going to tell Magic? I’m not going to tell him nothing. He’s a business man. He runs this thing the way he runs it. All I can have is a little input here and there. He can ask me a question and I can answer it. I’m not trying to tell them how to run their job, but I can give them input on how I’ve coached my boys for 15 years. Take a little bit of stuff that I know about my boys and use that to your advantage.”
If LaVar is truly not intending to court controversy, and if Johnson and Pelinka have been understanding of that, then maybe the clickbait explosions his comments often lead to haven’t really hurt the relationship as much as many have speculated from the outside.
However, LaVar can only blame the media for misconstruing his comments for so long. At some point, regardless of his intentions, if his interviews are continuously spurring a perception of dysfunction around the Lakers, then it will only be so long before that dysfunction is actually — for lack of a better term — spoken into existence.
LaVar doesn’t seem set to accept that at any point soon, especially not with the free advertising all the writing about his comments generates for Big Baller Brand. For now, it seems the relationship with Johnson and Pelinka that he feels is so solid will continue apace, and only time will tell if his consistent controversy-generating will damage it.
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