"Keep my kids' name out of your mouth; keep my family out of your mouth. This is dad to dad. It's a problem now." - LeBron James on LaVar Ball
Almost 20 years ago, Chris Tucker educated everyone to an unwritten rule in Black life.
The streets have many unwritten rules, like the aforementioned one regarding a Black man's radio. With the statement above, King James officially put the never-scared-to-be-vocal LaVar Ball, on notice that he officially violated another unwritten rule of the streets: Never talk about another man's family, especially that of a man of color.
It's a code of the street, one in which a violation could result in harsh consequences. You can be Black or Italian, Puerto Rican or Irish; talk about someone's family and after the initial "what'd you say?" the gloves come off and hands are thrown.
LaVar Ball, who has become a catch-22 for Black sports fathers, has been unleashing a verbal tirade in the world of roundball, letting everyone know this his kids are better than everyone else's, and that he was a force that could beat Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one. So after verbally sparring with Charles Barkley, challenging Steph Curry and targeting one of the GOATs of the hardwood, it was only natural that his next target would be the current King of the NBA, LeBron James.
But he went out of bounds and went after James' sons. Wrong move.
We've seen how things can go very wrong, very quickly, when it comes to going at the family of men of color. Just ask Derek Fisher, who received an unexpected visit from Matt Barnes, who took a "road trip" after his sons told him that Fisher was in their house with them and his ex. Look at Boston Globe reporter Bob Ryan, who went on TV back in 2003 and said this about Jason Kidd's wife Joumana in response to a question about fans screaming hurtful comments at Kidd in regards to his 2001 arrest for striking Joumana during a domestic dispute:
"She wants face time on camera. You know what, the great way to get face time on camera, bring the cute little precocious kid. Oh great, I mean, she needs, I'd like to smack her."
Ryan was suspended for a month without pay by the Globe and should still be grateful that the Kidd family was so forgiving. Imagine if he had said that about Matt Barnes.
I stated last week that LaVar Ball should be praised for taking care of his sons, directing their paths and not allowing anyone else to determine their futures without coming through him. That includes UCLA, where son Lonzo plays and where his other two sons are committed to attending, and the NCAA, who announced that Lonzo wouldn't face any penalties or sanctions after his image was used on the family's apparel site, bigballerbrand.com. According to LaVar, that's because he flexed his muscle on the situation.
“I was going to tell them, Big Ballers style, see if you can go win this (NCAA) tournament without my son," Ball said. “I said, ‘Let me tell you guys something right now, if I come down there, it ain’t going to be about no complaints. I’m coming down to get my son.' And that’s when they was like, ‘LaVar, it wasn’t us. It was USC.’ ”
LaVar has said some outrageous things, many of which were so ridiculous that you almost assume that even he doesn't actually believe them; but then again, he probably does. Yet to break a code of the streets by involving another man's family in your comments is a violation, and now he's officially been checked.
"He can talk all about his brand, talk about his sons, talk about basketball, talk about me," James told ESPN. "But keep my family out of this."