If you were to do a very quick Google search on the term “Helicopter Parent,” you would find out that it’s defined as “a parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children.” This particular concept is mostly seen in the world of sports, where parents try to do everything they can so their kid can achieve their goals. Unfortunately, this can lead to some overbearing parenting that in many instances, hurts the child’s ability to grow. With this definition in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising if LaVar Ball was the first person you thought of. If there was ever a first-team all-helicopter parent, he would definitely be the captain.
At this point, LaVar is a household name in the world of basketball thanks to the way he’s managed his three sons, Lonzo, LiAngelo, and LaMelo. When LaVar first burst onto the scene, he was just like any other parent who wanted to see their kid be successful. He was involved in their decision making and their training, although he quickly expanded his reach within his son’s careers. Whether it be creating a whole new sportswear brand, pulling his kids out of school, or publicly criticizing coaches, LaVar has done it all.
Having said all that, one question still remains. Has LaVar’s antics hurt or helped his kids? It may be too early to answer such a question but with everything that’s happened with LaVar and the Big Baller Brand over the past couple of months, it would be a disservice not to explore such a query.
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Basketball fans were introduced to LaVar while his oldest song Lonzo was playing for the UCLA Bruins. At the time, Lonzo was one of the best prospects in the country and LaVar was well aware of this. LaVar was also aware of the fact that the Lakers were a lottery team back in 2017 and would be in need of a star point guard. Throughout the season, LaVar would plant seeds about Lonzo’s desire to play in Los Angeles and how well he would fit in with their system. Eventually, the Lakers would secure the second overall pick in the draft and sure enough, they selected the one-and-done Bruins star. This would be the first and last time LaVar would make good on a promise.
Before Lonzo had played a single game with the Lakers, LaVar was comparing him to Magic Johnson on shows like First Take. From the get-go, LaVar was setting Lonzo up with expectations that he could never fulfill. Some people thought LaVar was simply a father who had confidence in his sons, but really, it was a marketing tactic to bring attention to his family and the Big Baller Brand.
Once Lonzo started playing with the Lakers, it was clear that he had a lot of work to do. Ball’s rookie season was full of inconsistent play and rocky shooting performances. Defensively, Lonzo had proven himself to be quite underrated and as far as his passing game goes, he’s a stud. Regardless, his Lakers career lasted all of two seasons, before being shipped off to the New Orleans Pelicans in a blockbuster trade. After the trade, LaVar got on First Take and said he wanted the deal to happen all along, despite saying Lonzo should stay in L.A. Instead of letting his son embark on a new chapter in his career, LaVar decided to make it about himself. Perhaps the perception around Lonzo would be different if not for LaVar. Had he come into the league with reasonable expectations, Lonzo would be seen as an adequate player with a ton of untapped potential. In many respects, he’s still that type of player but until LaVar lets him grow on his own, it’s going to be tough to progress in the league.
Moving away from Lonzo, LaVar has also had a big impact on LiAngelo and LaMelo’s careers. Starting with LiAngelo, the middle Ball brother followed in Lonzo’s footsteps and played with UCLA. LiAngelo didn’t make too much of an impact with the team and was seen as more of a shooter who didn’t have too much NBA potential. In his freshman year, LiAngelo was arrested for shoplifting in China and soon after, LaVar pulled him off of the team.
Shortly after the UCLA fiasco, LaVar pulled his youngest son, LaMelo, out of high school. From there, he brought both LaMelo and LiAngelo to Lithuania where he claimed they would eventually end up on the Lakers with Lonzo. The Lithuania experiment didn’t last very long though and Ball eventually focused on his JBA league which has seen some moderate success so far. When LiAngelo came home from Lithuania, he was promised a contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, or at least that’s what LaVar says. Of course, this never happened and LiAngelo’s NBA hopes remain in limbo.
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LaVar’s most recent basketball endeavor involves LaMelo who revealed last month that he would be going overseas next season to play with the Illawarra Hawks of the Australian Basketball League. On the surface, this sounds like a great idea because it will let LaMelo play alongside adults while also getting paid for his efforts. This can only be good for his development going forward but of course, in true LaVar fashion, he had to go and make grand proclamations about his son. While appearing on First Take, LaVar said LaMelo would be the first overall pick in the 2020 draft which is a bold take, to say the least. LaMelo certainly has a ton of potential but making a prediction like that so early on is exactly why a negative narrative exists around Lonzo right now.
As for the Big Baller Brand, well, that’s another strike against LaVar. The Ball family patriarch made some pretty great points when he first unveiled the family-run sportswear effort. For LaVar, being able to give his sons their own brand was much more beneficial than signing a deal with Nike. At the end of the day, your brand is what’s going to bring in the money and LaVar was on the precipice of something great. Unfortunately for Ball, poorly made shoes and overpriced apparel led to less-than-stellar sales and a brand that was seen as more of a novelty than a competitor to juggernauts like Jordan Brand and Adidas.
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Back in March, family friend and BBB co-founder Alan Foster was exiled by the Ball clan after it was revealed he had stolen $1.5 million from Lonzo. Since then, the brand has been in shambles, despite LaVar’s attempts to convince us otherwise. This past week, Big Baller Brand gear was being sold at a local gym for heavily discounted prices in what looked like a clearance sale. While there is still time for LaVar to revitalize the brand, it’s not looking too good right now.
With all of this in mind, there is a clear issue at hand. At every single turn, LaVar’s obsession with convincing us of him and his sons’ greatness has failed him. After two years in the league, Lonzo isn’t anywhere close to achieving the same success as Magic Johnson, while LiAngelo is destined to never play a single minute in the league. Barring a miracle, the Big Baller Brand is on the verge of folding which is yet another example of LaVar putting his foot in his mouth. LaMelo’s fate remains to be seen but if LaVar continues to increase the expectations for him, another Lonzo situation could be in the works.
Obviously, Ball knows what’s best for his own kids but at the same time, there comes a point where moderation is required. Lonzo, LiAngelo, and LaMelo have more talent than any casual basketball could ever ask for but until they’re able to do their own thing, it’s going to be next to impossible for them to escape the noise. It’s clear that lofty expectations have hurt them to a point where NBA fans roll their eyes at the very mention of their name. If LaVar took a step back and let his sons play, the narrative would quickly change for the better.