He's loud, brash and unapologetic. He's opinionated, confident and unrepentant in his beliefs.
He's trolled and exploited for entertainment and he's perfectly fine with it. He's LaVar Ball, father of Lonzo Ball, and he has changed the game of basketball in a way that fans and influencers in the sport both ridicule and fear. He took a page from John Calipari's book of recruiting and added his own wrinkle to the process by boldly inserting the role of the Black father into the equation, one who won't succumb to the pressures, negative influences or demands placed on athletes in the shady world of recruiting.
Fans were waiting for UCLA to lose because they wanted to rip LaVar Ball. They were itching to troll and create memes with his face. They wanted to shred his bold prediction that UCLA would win it all so that they could be vindicated in the belief that the system could not be changed, especially by a large, boldly-talking black man. So after the Bruins defeat by De'Aaron Fox and the Kentucky Wildcats last night, Twitter exploded.
While these are certainly hilarious, what most fans don't realize is that despite UCLA's loss, Lonzo, LaVar and the entire Ball family are actually winning.
Following in the footsteps of Richard Williams and Ray Allen, LaVar ball has asserted control over the direction and narrative of the Ball brand and future. Richard literally fought to carve a path in the world of tennis for his daughters and Allen who, when negotiating his contract with the Milwaukee Bucks, removed the traditional sports agent from the equation and instead negotiated the contract himself, enlisting the legal services of Johnnie Cochran at $500 per hour. These are game-changers, people who embarked upon routes seldom taken, opening up doors for others to follow.
Ball conjured up a master plan when his sons were born and has executed it to perfection. He recognized that the more talkative and outrageous he could become, the more attention he could garner for himself, his sons and the brand. That strategy has worked as he's appeared on national TV, radio and ESPN numerous times, most recently arguing with Steven A. in only the way he can.
Today's episode of First Take sure is eventful. 😳😳😳pic.twitter.com/PhGD4NUQsL— The Shadow League (@ShadowLeagueTSL) March 23, 2017
It was made for TV banter, but it worked because everyone watched it, talked about it and wrote about it. You don't want to hear or see him, but just like a car accident, you can't turn away. LaVar recognizes that, exploits it and keeps winning despite the hate and UCLA's loss. Need proof? The Bruins lost and aside from De'Aaron Fox, the primary focus was on LaVar being wrong about his "UCLA going to win the NCAA Championship" prediction, and Lonzo declaring for the NBA Draft.
It's ironic that the Bruins lost to Calipari's Wildcats as Ball is the Calipari of fathers, using the system and media to his advantage. He's not doing anything illegal nor is he physically hurting anyone. He's utilizing a system to his advantage, one designed to profit from student-athletes, and that makes him a threat to the system and the norm.
Despite what you think about him, his family or his actions, it remains clear that his strategy for crafting the path of success for his sons has worked. And once Lonzo is taken in the first round in the NBA Draft in June, part 1 of his three-part master plan is complete.
So say what you want about him. Ridicule and criticize him; he's good with that because that's exactly what he wants and needs. It was his master plan from the beginning and not only is it working, it's brilliant.
Think I'm crazy? Watch him on draft night.
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