This is the kind of situation that highlights the fact that LaVar Ball is doing his son a disservice by talking about him as if he has already been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
UCLA lost to a damn good Arizona squad, 86-75, in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals on Friday night, and Ball injured his thumb in the first half. He said the ball hit his thumb at an awkward angle, causing pain that lasted throughout the game.
"The ball came down on it wrong," Ball said.
Obviously affected by the thumb, Ball was not his usual effective self. He grabbed his left thumb several times and finished 2-for-7 from the field with 8 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 4 turnovers.
Social media went in on Ball’s poor performance with harsh words and demeaning comments, obviously directed at and influenced by his Dad’s arrogant comments about his son’s ability.
LaVar Ball said his son was better than Steph Curry and that UCLA would win the National Championship. Both of those things can still happen, but if pops is going to continue to talk big, his son won’t be given any sympathy or any leeway to have a bad game after he suffers an injury.
In this case, the Ball's have to take the good with the bad. It’s not like Arizona is a trash team. In fact, Sean Miller’s Wildcats are a higher-rated seed at No. 2 than UCLA (No.3), so it wasn’t an upset. A Bruins loss to Arizona was very feasible, even if Ball played up to snuff.
It’s not the end of the world and the Bruins and Lonzo can surely redeem themselves in the NCAA Tournament. If they had to lose again, now was their time to do it. Lonzo didn't make any excuses either, despite the fact that it was obvious he was a compromised player.
"That's not the reason that we lost," Ball said. "We lost because we didn't play right. ... It was hurting. But in a game like this, you can't make an excuse for your thumb."
So when Arizona meets Oregon for the Pac-12 championship tonight, Ball won't be a part of the show, but maybe it will slow his Dad's motor mouth down a bit, which is a good thing.
He knows his Dad set the bar higher than the stars and when he doesn’t play out of this world, people will be quick to bring him down to earth.