The Los Angeles Lakers used the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft on Lonzo Ball. While Ball is unquestionably talented, he comes with some baggage — mostly in the form of LaVar Ball, his outspoken father. So, what did the senior Ball tell team president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka to assure them that Lonzo was worth such a high draft pick in an especially strong class?
“He just said it’s marketing,” Johnson said, per Ramona Shelburne, ESPN. “That’s what he had to do to market not only his son but the brand. Before I met him I had already thought that. I already knew what he was doing.”
Now, has it worked?
It obviously didn’t hurt Ball’s draft stock. Even without all of LaVar’s controversy, it’s highly unlikely that Ball would have gone first over Markelle Fultz. Additionally, LaVar has wanted Lonzo to play with the Lakers all along.
The bigger question will come with his brand. Normally, big personalities sell well. But many of LaVar’s statements have turned people off. Ultimately, time will tell if it’s a net positive or negative. How well Lonzo plays will also go a long way in determining how well the Big Baller Brand sells.
Of course, LaVar’s personality brings another question to mind. Will he be a continued distraction to Lonzo and Los Angeles through the season? According to LaVar himself, that’s not in the cards.
“As far as training my boy, this is as far as I can take him,” LaVar says he told Johnson, per Shelburne. “I’ll leave it up to you to take him further. You can get him better with the film time and the coaching. You can take him to another level. … I trust you with my boy. I just got a great feeling that you guys are going to take Zo to a whole other level.”
Now, will this actually be proven true? It will certainly be something to watch closely when the Lakers and Ball go through their first notable adversity in the upcoming season.