Monday, November 20, 2017
Sports

Brace yourself: LaVar Ball and Showtime are about to collide

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LaVar Ball, the new clown prince of player parents, is at it again. When isn't he? There might not be a person who needs to be windmill slam dunked more than the father of former star UCLA freshman Lonzo Ball.

And I'll be all for it … when I stop laughing.

This loon is triple-double entertaining. And a marketing genius. His son's college career ended two months ago, the NBA playoffs are going on, but we're still following the Balls. I know I am. I can't help it.

LaVar Ball is way more unpredictable than the conference finals, a veritable Slip 'N Slide for the Cavaliers and Warriors. I can only hope Father Ball sets up a booth outside the Finals to scream to everyone about his 19-year-old and maybe hawk some of his obscenely overpriced for-men-only sneakers.

The latest obnoxious father furor is LaVar Ball's comments to Fox Sports reporter Kristine Leahy during The Herd with Colin Cowherd. Ball told Leahy to "stay in her lane," refusing to look at her after she asked a question. And he said he wasn't interested in having a Big Baller Brand women's basketball sneaker — no shoes for you.

An argument followed. Ball told Leahy, "My problem is you are a hater."

Meet the man who needs a rubber basketball arena. Send out the guys with the butterfly nets to haul him in.

There was the time LaVar said, "Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one."

There was LaVar saying Lonzo was better than Steph Curry. And LeBron James. And Russell Westbrook.

It was Dad, after UCLA was eliminated by Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament, who said, "Realistically, you can't win no championship with three white guys because the foot speed is too slow."

And there's that Big Baller shoe brand, LaVar's brainchild. Yes, his kid already has a shoe. The first model, the ZO2 by Lonzo Ball, sells for $495. I think that's for the pair, not per sneaker.

Ready to throw up yet?

LaVar Ball's mouth is writing big checks that his son will have to cover with his play. Sons have redeemed fathers before. Lonzo will have to be incredible from his opening NBA tip. Know what? I'm pulling for him.

Because his father, king of the loose cannons, will never run out of cannon balls. And we haven't even reached the draft.

LaVar Ball has listed the Lakers as the only team his son will work out for before the draft. Los Angeles will pick second in the draft, behind the Celtics. The Celtics are expected to grab Markelle Fultz, the projected top pick. You know, if the Celtics wanted to teach the Balls a lesson, they'd choose Lonzo. Take that! Only LaVar would have to come along. I can just hear him saying he'd take Bird in a three-point contest.

Los Angeles is a better fit for Lonzo. The Lakers need a post-Kobe revival. The Balls could use some magic themselves.

Make that Magic.

Magic Johnson, Lakers president of basketball operations, NBA Hall of Famer and inventor of "Showtime," might be the only person who can save the day.

Magic and Magic alone can sit Crazy Man down and tell it like it is. "I've been in the spotlight, pal." Maybe he could wheel in Kobe and Kareem. Magic, his name, his success — his brand — could ratchet down Daddy without leaving fingerprints, maybe even convince LaVar that cutting a lower profile and returning to sanity was actually LaVar's idea.

Magic better hurry. LaVar Ball apparently has two other sons who are committed to play basketball for UCLA. Somebody needs to rein this guy in before he goes too far … or Lonzo Ball's shoe makes millions when he becomes a Laker. Who stops daffy daddy after that?

The show goes on. Just follow the bouncing Balls.

Contact Martin Fennelly at mfennelly@tampabay.com or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly

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