Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball has had an up and down year, to say the least.
Whether its due to a lack of aggression or a fear of missing free throws — Ball is currently shooting a Shaq-esque 48 percent from the charity stripe — Ball has been criticized throughout the year for passing up easy shots.
It seems like that habit transcends his on-court behavior and affects his off-court behavior as well.
LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s father, somehow stole NBA headlines while he was nearly 6,000 miles away from Los Angeles in Lithuania. While the patriarch of the Ball family was presiding over his two younger sons’ transition to professional basketball in Lithuania, he found time to skewer the free-falling Lakers and head coach Luke Walton.
“You can see they’re not playing for Luke no more,” LaVar told ESPN. “Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him.”
“[The Lakers are] a good team. Nobody wants to play for [Walton],” LaVar added. “I can see it. No high-fives when they come out of the game. People don’t know why they’re in the game. He’s too young. He’s too young. … He ain’t connecting with them anymore. You can look at every player, he’s not connecting with not one player.”
This certainly puts Lonzo Ball in an awkward situation, with his father condemning his first professional head coach.
But by that same token, some could view it as a golden opportunity for the Lakers’ rookie.
He finally had a chance to distance himself a bit from his father’s braggadocios behavior while nipping in the bud any chatter that the Big Baller Brand is synonymous with coach-killing.
It was a layup of an opportunity.
And like he does on the court, Ball passed up an easy opportunity.
Reporters asked the rookie after a Lakers shootaround if he’s happy with Luke Walton as his head coach. It was, by all indications, the easiest question in the world to answer.
“Yes, I am happy with my head coach,” Ball could and should have said. Simple, concise, no controversy.
Instead, his actual answer spoke volumes about how ingrained his father was into his head.
“I’ll play for anybody,” Ball said.
“Our job is to play basketball. I don’t decide who coaches,” he added.
Not exactly a glowing defense of his coach.
Walton, for his part, doesn’t seem too concerned with LaVar Ball’s criticisms.
“I would disagree with that,” Walton answered after reporters asked him about Ball’s assertion that he’d lost the Lakers locker room.
Walton may not have lost the locker room, but he’s certainly doesn’t seem to have the support of one of his most recognizable players.
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