BY ALEX THOMAS | Ball State Sports Link
LaVar Ball has completely blown up. He’s now more popular than his sons Lonzo, UCLA stud and future NBA Lottery pick, and LaMelo, who scored 94 points in a high school game as a junior.
He has failed to shut his mouth since Lonzo got to UCLA. Making claims he could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one, that Lonzo is better than two-time MVP Steph Curry, taking shots at Lebron James and his kids, and so much more. You’ve heard for months, I don’t need to go in to detail.
We laugh at each one, dismissing it until next time. LaVar Ball is a network’s ratings superstar who forces each and everyone of us to watch the Twitter video of him puffing his chest and talking about how great his sons, his brand and himself are.
Let me be clear, Lonzo Ball is a tremendous ball player who is most likely headed to the Los Angeles Lakers with the second pick in next month’s draft. NBA scouts and talent evaluators have made it clear nothing LaVar says will hurt Lonzo’s stock, so I don’t even need to discuss that.
Each claim he has made is harmless. No one actually believes LaVar could beat MJ or that Lonzo is better than Steph Curry. It’s comical and it keeps the Ball name in the headlines. I get it.
LaVar is building a brand all by himself. Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and others have all passed on a shoe deal with the Big Baller Brand. LaVar has insisted that Triple B turn in to a flagship part of whatever brand they sign with, similar to Jordan or LiveStrong.
The Big Baller Brand released its ZO2 shoe independently a few weeks ago at a price of $495. Now that the shoe is out and Lonzo is all but a lock as a top-three pick in the draft, LaVar said.
“Now you know … if [Nike, Adidas, Under Armour] want to talk to me now, it just went up to $3 billion. Triple Bs — billion, billion, billion. That’s the only way they going to come at me. I’m already in the building. I don’t need them for nothing, as you can tell.”
LaVar is in his own little world and that’s fine. He’ll talk, we’ll laugh and wait for the next quote.
However, this week he took it one step too far.
LaVar went on The Herd with Colin Cowherd May 18 to discuss the likelihood of Lonzo going to the Lakers and the Big Baller Brand. LaVar was being his typical self, talking back and forth with Cowherd, but things changed when reporter Kristine Leahy began to ask questions.
This is one of those you just have to watch to fully understand.
As you can see, LaVar refuses to look at Leahy, consistently refuting her comments, mocking her and talking down to her.
The initial comment, “Stay in your lane,” was an absolute shutdown from LaVar to Leahy and I have a major problem with it.
Regardless of your views and opinions on Ball, Leahy, Cowherd — or really the landscape of sports media — the way LaVar treated her was downright wrong.
This isn’t LaVar taking shots at an all-time great or boasting about his sons. This is a man that showed no respect to a reporter, not because he doesn’t think she is good at her job. As he said, “With all due respect, I think you’re a great reporter, just not reporting on me.”
This is a lack of respect due to the fact she is a woman.
Leahy made comments in the past weeks criticizing how the Big Baller Brand doesn’t make apparel for women and how she would not see women wearing something that says “Big Baller” on the front of the shirt.
She makes a good point, but LaVar thinks he is a genius mogul set out to revolutionize the lifestyle apparel industry.
LaVar talked down to Leahy, treating her with no respect. He refused to look her in the eye when talking to her. All credit in the world to Leahy for not backing down. LaVar Ball can be an intense guy and she continued to take it to him. He even made statements that eluded to a threat in she will “get what’s coming” to her.
Because it’s LaVar Ball making these statements, it is easy to brush them aside and say he’s crazy. Don’t do that. This is a blatant disrespect for a well known reporter, working on one of the most successful sports talk shows, because she doesn’t have a “Y” chromosome.
Leahy addressed the comments on Speak for Yourself with Colin Cowherd and BSU alum Jason Whitlock. She didn’t shy away, nor should she have. I think the argument could be made Cowherd didn’t do enough to back up his reporter, but that’s a different conversation.
LaVar Ball has changed from little tick-tack quotes, to disrespect for someone who showed him nothing but respect. Ball later made comments about Fox Sport’s Whitlock by saying, “I don’t think he can make a comment on anything other than snacks.”
Leahy fired right back saying, “So you disrespect women and people for their weight?” Ball replied, “Like I told you, I’m not even worried about you. Keep in your lane.”
I don’t even have to show you how LaVar Ball has gone too far. He’s done it all himself. This is no longer a bunch of jokes and silly comments. This is a judgmental, rude and arrogant man.
Here’s the reality of the world. Women are a part of sports media and they’re not going anywhere. Females have been sideline reporters and anchors for years. Networks used to put the pretty face on camera because the largely male audience would enjoy it, but in this day and age, women are not afraid to speak their mind about every sport and every situation. They are as well-respected as their male counterparts.
Sports talk and live-event broadcasting are two areas that have been the most difficult for women to break into it. We shouldn’t turn our nose up at that. If someone can do their job well, then give them the opportunity to do so. Evaluate on talent, not gender. I write this as a male wanting to work in sports talk, and if a female is better at the job than I am, then she deserves it. It’s quite simple.
If you don’t like an individual’s show or what they say, that’s fine. You’re entitled to your opinion, but surely you can still respect them as a professional and as an individual.
And there it is, LaVar Ball took it one step too far.