Everyone’s favorite villain right now is Lavar Ball, the CEO of Big Baller Brand and the father of the Los Angeles Lakers’ rookie guard Lonzo Ball.
The elder Ball has NEVER been shy about speaking his mind about anything. He’s trash talked all kinds of NBA stars from Charles Barkley, LeBron James, Stephen Curry and even Michael Jordan. So it wasn’t surprising that when the Lakers selected his son Lonzo with the second pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, some players returned the favor on him.
FEDS are Coming
The Philadelphia 76ers have a lot to look forward to this coming season. Not only will they be returning a healthy Joel Embiid, they will also parade for the first time the top pick of the last two NBA drafts. The Sixers drafted Ben Simmons first in 2016 but the Aussie sensation got hurt even before he played his first NBA game. Now healthy, Simmons is expected to make his NBA debut alongside this year’s #1 overall pick Markelle Fultz. The Sixers traded up, giving away two first round picks to the Boston Celtics in order to draft the Washington guard.
When the trade was consummated, Embiid went to social media and announced to the world that the ‘FEDS are coming’. Embiid coined the nickname from his name and that of the other top players in the team, including Fultz: Fultz, Embiid, Dario ( Saric ) and Simmons. That was cool. On draft night though, Embiid and Simmons poked fun at the Balls.
Dunking on Lonzo
After Adam Silver read Lonzo’s name as the Lakers’ pick, the outspoken Lavar was interviewed by ESPN and as usual, he spoke his outlandish statements. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid apparently got annoyed with Lavar’s language that both took shots at him via Twitter. First it was Simmons who tweeted ‘Crazy Pills’ seemingly to mock ‘crazy’ Lavar’s insane claims and statements. Then Embiid subtweeted this request from Simmons: ‘Please dunk on him so hard that his daddy runs on the court to save him’.
Daddy Lavar has been Lonzo’s mouthpiece from day one. He has done most of the talking for and in behalf of his son. Look, Lavar said from Day 1 that Lonzo would only play for the Lakers. That was nine months ago. The Lakers picked Lonzo during last month’s draft. Now he says Lonzo is going to take the Lakers back to the playoffs. That remains to be seen. But certainly, the Sixers don’t think so. They themselves are saying that they are a playoff caliber team this coming season. We’ll see who walks the talk and gets there first.
It will be interesting to see who wins the first Lakers vs Sixers regular season game in 2017-18. The NBA hasn’t released the official schedule yet but you bet that game is going to be one worth watching, considering the beef that’s going on between Lavar and the Sixers. Knowing Lavar though, he won’t wait for the season to begin to get even. And true enough, the elder Ball has responded to Embiid and Simmons.
“When you don’t win and don’t even make the playoffs, and don’t even stay on the court long enough, that’s the best thing you can do is Tweet, make some stuff. Ain’t nobody else doing that, because they’re working on their game in the gym. These guys ain’t played a game, always hurt, and at the bottom of the totem pole. So guess what, get your a**es off the goddamn Tweeter, and get in the gym.”
Trust The Process
Photo: CBS Sports
Trust the process. That has been the battlecry in the city of Brotherly Love ever since former GM Sam Hinkie embarked on an ambitious plan to build a title team via the NBA Draft. Under the Hinkie blueprint, the Sixers tanked season after season to get the highest possible lottery picks year after year. As a result, the team won just a total of 47 games in three seasons under Hinkie. That’s few, considering the Warriors won 73 games during the 2016 season alone.
During the three year depression under Hinkie, the Sixers were able to draft Embiid at #5 in 2014, Jahlil Okafor at #3 in 2015 and then Simmons at #1 in 2016. Technically, Hinkie was no longer with the Sixers when they won the lottery which got them Ben Simmons but Hinkie was the GM when they started 1-21 and finished the season 10-72. Last season, the Sixers won 28 games, their win total in the previous two seasons combined. Embiid showed a lot of promise in his first season, hence earning the nickname ‘Process’.
While Embiid played great last season, he appeared in just 31 games because of injuries. First, his minutes and games were intentionally limited at the start of the season because of an old injury. Then in February 2017, Embiid was declared out for the remainder of the season with a torn meniscus in his left knee. Before this season, Embiid missed two full years because of a broken foot.
Simmons meanwhile missed his entire rookie season after rolling his ankle during the Sixers final training camp scrimmage. He was initially ruled out for just four months but his broken foot didn’t heal as expected hence he was shut down for the whole season. Now with a clean bill of health, Simmons is expected to make his NBA debut at the start of the 2017-18 NBA season. Given these injuries, Lavar Ball has a point. How come these kids taunt him and Lonzo when they haven’t earned their stripes yet?
More From Lavar
Lavar wasn’t done with one reply. He also hit Simmons and also Markelle Fultz from leading their collegiate squads to the NCAA Tournament:
“Add their games up and see how they turn the program around. LSU (where Simmons attended) wasn’t turned around, they’re great players. They’re good, they made it to the NBA, they’re good kids that can play,” Ball said. “Both of ’em played in college and didn’t uplift their team. I ain’t got nothing against Fultz, that boy can play, but if you really that good, your team gotta go at least .500 if you got a bunch of blind midgets.”
Simmons had an impressive one and done season with LSU as he averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game. But his 19-14 Tigers didn’t make the NCAA Tournament. Same with Fultz who averaged 23.2 points per game last season for Washington but whose Huskies finished with a 9-22 record. In contrast, Lonzo Ball led the UCLA Bruins to the NCAA Tournament where they reached the Sweet 16 round.
Lonzo Ball has officially signed his rookie contract with the Lakers. The young Ball was given the maximum deal allowed for a #2 pick: a four year $33M deal. Whether he lives up to the hype and expectations remains to be seen. By all indications, the Lakers are poised to position him as their next superstar. They traded D’Angelo Russell before the draft and now are looking to sign veteran George Hill to mentor him for a year.
As for Lavar, well Big Daddy Ball will always be there to take a bullet for his son ( and sons ). He won’t let anybody bully his kid in the NBA, not Joel Embiid and the rest of the Sixers. Once again, it’s interesting to see who gets to walk the talk when these two teams meet in the 2017-18 regular season. Keep your fingers crossed though that Embiid and Simmons will be healthy to play that game.
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