- Lonzo Ball struggled in his first game against the aggressive defense of Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley.
- LaVar responded to Beverley, claiming people only cared about him because he was playing Lonzo.
- It already seems as if LaVar’s outspoken ways are impacting Lonzo’s career, which many people feared.
Lonzo Ball had a rough welcome to the NBA on Thursday when he was harassed by Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley in the Clippers’ 108-92 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Ball struggled throughout the game as Beverley guarded him physically, and taunted him. After the game, Beverley said he told Ball that many other NBA players will go after him the same way because of the “riff-raff” started by his father, LaVar Ball.
As Beverley left the court after the game, he also reportedly shouted: “Weak ass m—–f—–. Bring him out on the court with me and I will tear his ass up.”
Few players would play Lonzo as aggressively as Beverley, but it nonetheless helped prove a theory that many expected — LaVar’s brash public persona will have an effect on Lonzo’s career.
After the game, LaVar did not take Beverley’s comments sitting down, telling ESPN that Beverley was only receiving attention because he was guarding Lonzo.
“Yeah, you shut the m—–f—– down. And your check still ain’t going to go no higher than what it is … Who is Patrick Beverley? He played all last year and nobody said nothing about him. Now we are looking at your first game. Why? Because Lonzo’s name is attached to it … Nobody is going to care about you. But you put my son’s name in it, and you put my name in it, now you got some action and you got some people talking.”
LaVar also chided Beverley for not having his own basketball shoe, as Lonzo does with the Ball family company, Big Baller Brand.
LaVar’s comments only figure to further motivate future opponent’s of Lonzo’s. His outspoken ways have put a target on Lonzo. In fact, Sacramento Kings rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox, who faced off against Lonzo twice in college, told Sports Illustrated in June that NBA point guards will go after Lonzo aggressively, even naming Beverley as an example.
“He put a target on his neck,” Fox said of LaVar’s effect on Lonzo.
“Not just the great point guards. Every point guard. Like Patrick Beverley’s not going to do it offensively, but he’s gonna be like, ‘Yo this kid’s not about to get past halfcourt.'”
Prior to the draft, as some of LaVar’s outlandish comments made the rounds on sports talk shows — from claiming he’d beat Michael Jordan one-on-one to claiming Lonzo would beat Stephen Curry — there was debate about how he would affect Lonzo’s draft stock. NBA insiders said teams wouldn’t worry about LaVar so long as Lonzo can play.
But prior to the draft, the Lakers apparently had enough concern that they talked to LaVar one-on-one about his impact. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported in July that Lakers president Magic Johnson asked LaVar how he’ll involved he’ll be in Lonzo’s career. Both Johnson and LaVar said LaVar made an honest confession.
Johnson said of the conversation: “He said, ‘Earvin, look, I’m not following my son. I’m not going to be hanging out in L.A. I’m going to be training these young kids [his other sons].'”
LaVar recalled saying: “‘As far as training my boy, this is as far as I can take him. 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.'”
LaVar has been somewhat quieter in the months following the draft, and he may well be staying away from the team — his son’s first NBA game seems like a noteworthy exception — but after one game, he’s back in the news and taking shots at NBA players. Beverley is an instigator on the court, but other players would likely take his side over LaVar’s.
Lonzo has discussed his father’s outspoken ways before, saying he’s always been vocal and brash, but that he wouldn’t be in the NBA without him.
NBA veterans going after rookies is nothing new, but, as Fox said, Lonzo does seem to have a bigger target than usual. If LaVar continues speaking up as he did after the first game, that target only figures to grow.