When UCLA takes on Cincinnati in NCAA Tournament action Sunday night, you can be sure Charles Barkley won’t be pulling for the Bruins. Barkley, you see, has an issue with LaVar Ball, father of UCLA star Lonzo Ball.
Barkley isn’t alone.
LaVar, in addition to Lonzo, has two other extremely talented basketball-playing sons. In fact, we wrote about high school sophomore LaMelo Ball’s 92-point game last month. There’s also LiAngelo, a high school senior. LaMelo and LiAngelo are both expected to play their college ball at UCLA, just like their big brother.
It’s very cool to see three brothers come up like this. What’s not that cool is LaVar’s lack of humility and setting of unreasonable expectations about his sons – and himself.
Here are some examples of what we mean:
–LaVar claimed that Lonzo, a freshman at UCLA, will be better than Stephen Curry – two-time MVP Stephen Curry.
–LaVar proclaimed that Lonzo will play only for the family’s hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers, although he later walked back those comments.
–He compared his sons’ marketing influence to that of Michael Jordan. He created a the Big Baller Brand for his hoops-playing family and said Lonzo will be the first player drafted into the NBA under his own brand.
–He told USA Today that he’s seeking a $1 billion shoe deal for this three sons.
–His opinions about himself are ever more outlandish – he said he could have beaten Jordan, the best basketball player of all-time, in a game of one-on-one.
While to some, this all makes for fun conversation, it did nothing but annoy Barkley. So Barkley decided to Google “LaVar Ball” to find out if he was any good at basketball.
“Once I found out he averaged two points a game (at Washington State). … Listen, you need to slow your roll,” Barkley told Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio. “He says I didn’t win a championship. I said to myself, ‘I need to go back and Google this guy, because maybe I missed the Ball era, when he was dominating and winning championships everywhere else.’ Listen, I’m too old and fat to play basketball, but I’ll challenge Mr. Ball to a one-on-one. How about that?
“I don’t even know how old he is — he’s got to be around my age — but no guy who averaged two points a game can beat me at one-on-one. I’m positive of that.”
Ball shot back, “He wants to play one-and-one and all this, and he says I averaged two points. Who cares?… I know he don’t want to play one-on-one because he’s too big. He better stay behind that TNT thing … and eat them doughnuts.”
Before UCLA’s first-round Tournament game on Friday, Barkley rooted openly for the Bruins’ opponent, Kent State, even sporting a Golden Flashes jersey.
Charles Barkley hops on the Kent State bandwagon pic.twitter.com/JHkOUPctxQ
— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) March 18, 2017
“I got bitter anger and animosity toward certain people affiliated,” Barkley said. “Not the players. I love (coach) Steve Alford.”
UCLA prevailed over Kent State, but perhaps Cincinnati will knock UCLA out of the Tournament and LaVar, at least temporarily, out of our lives.
We see Barkley’s side of this – LaVar is super-annoying. But part of us is pulling for UCLA to keep winning because we can’t wait to hear what LaVar is going to say next.