If you’re looking for a match to ignite controversy in the NBA media, it’s tough to beat LaVar Ball and Charles Barkley.
Their latest detonation came when TMZ Sports asked Barkley his opinion on Ball in the wake of a recent debacle that got the father of New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball banned from ESPN’s lineup of sports talk shows.
“Wherever LaVar Ball is, there’s a village missing an idiot,” Barkley said.
“We should just keep LaVar off television,” he added. “That would be the best way to do it. … Keep him off TV.”
Ball’s ESPN ban came after he made a suggestive comment in the direction of Molly Qerim Rose, who plays the role of babysitter to Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman on the day care for grownups that is “First Take.”
Ball — a married man — appeared to hit on Qerim. Smith, sitting next to Ball, couldn’t quite figure out how to react, finally going with an exasperated, “Oh, Lord.”
Lavar Ball shooting his shot with Molly Qerim on national television😭 pic.twitter.com/8yNP6gLifw
— Sam Tomasi (@SamTomasi13) June 17, 2019
Ball — and, to be fair, Qerim as well — shrugged off the incident as less a case of sexual inappropriateness and more a case of clowning for the camera, as the rise Ball got out of Qerim no doubt played well with the kinds of people who put LaVar Ball on their televisions at home on purpose.
But the damage was done and ESPN — already facing heavy criticism from those who see them as Ball’s enabler — decided it had had enough.
The TMZ interviewer mentioned Lonzo’s trade from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Pelicans and asked if the move would make a difference for LaVar.
Barkley doubled down on the old saw that “wherever you go, there you are.”
“It don’t matter,” the Hall of Famer said. “He’s an idiot in all 50 states. Not New Orleans, not Louisiana, not LA. He’s an idiot in all 50 states.”
Barkley pointed out that LaVar’s presence has as its greatest victim Lonzo, whom he called “a great player and a nice kid” — leaving aside Ball’s atrocious stat lines and the mother of his kids calling him a terrible father, sure, let’s go with that — and whom Barkley and just about everyone else believes would be better off if his dad would stay out of the spotlight.
The Pelicans can only hope that LaVar, barred from running his mouth on ESPN, will take his act Down Under as his youngest son, LaMelo, plays in the Australian league in hopes of following the world’s strangest path to the NBA.
As for Barkley, at least we know that he’ll do everything in his power to keep the suits at TNT from ever inviting LaVar on “Inside the NBA.”
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