The Clarion

Lavar Ball sparks controversy, grabs attention

Mario Gasparri, Staff Writer

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Our current sports media landscape seemingly rewards those who are as much polarizing as they are likable, and more commonly than ever has become loitered with larger than life characters who routinely have come to the forefront of social media and news networks alike.

It is fun when these characters are endowed athletes who do it through a brass showmanship, but recently, we get figureheads who aren’t athletes or even parts of teams, but analysts or figureheads giving controversial hot takes during a delicate time when there is the protests and change in the NFL and in other sports alike, and where players are given a social voice to speak through that is larger than ever.

We have President Donald Trump in feuds with owners, players, and coaches – on Twitter, of course. There is a political aspect that the sports landscape, for better or for worse, has undeniably woven into its everyday fabric. Yet, in the face of this all, we still have figures like Lavar Ball to represent the NBA.

Why Lavar Ball has become such a fascination is telling of today’s media landscape. It consists of his outrageously comical statements that are endearing and partly controversial, but also the sense that he is a glorified helicopter dad and is reaping the benefits of his sons’ talent. It’s hard to completely buy into the latter idea, considering he does have a genuine love for his family, and its more about how he is able to manipulate the media.

It’s well-documented that his three sons are gifted individuals when it comes to basketball, particularly Lonzo Ball, who is leading a talented, but young Lakers squad with a couple of standout performances early into his career. Outsiders looking in at him see an over-the-top father, but they really should see a person manipulating the media for the enhancement of his Big Baller Brand.

The way Lavar Ball is able to garner attention is tremendous, lighting social media ablaze because of his interviews on ESPN talk shows, where he makes proclamations of being able to beat Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one or that Lonzo Ball is the greatest player of all time already.

What was supposed to be another fun personality in the sports world is one that is beginning to be taken too seriously. His parental decisions are scrutinized, probably to a fault, with the latest of them being his incapacity to thank Donald Trump for apparently helping get his son Liangelo out of prison in China, after he shoplifted from a Louis Vuitton pop-up store. Trump probably does deserve some kind of thank you, or at least Lavar Ball should show gratitude, but the day Lavar Ball said “Who?” in response to a question about Donald Trump helping get his son home from Chinese prison, he started a media firestorm pitting two big-headed divas who always look to grab headlines against each other.

For Donald Trump, we see his cockiness and public demand for gratitude, while for Lavar Ball, we get another prime example of how Lavar Ball is using calculated measures to get back into the frontpage of the news. At first, Ball was a funny spokesperson for his softer voiced son, but now the Lavar Ball hype train has taken on a life of its own. He is a full-blown sports celebrity and meme in himself, and has gotten to this point all by just stirring the pot and making some noise. As the media, we shouldn’t take Lavar Ball seriously, as he is not the representative the NBA needs to pick fights with the President. It was fun while it lasted, but can we move on, please?

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Lavar Ball sparks controversy, grabs attention