may 27, 2017 | tania ganguli | THE L.A. TIMES | ARTICLE LINK
Steve Alford didn’t hesitate when asked about Lonzo Ball’s enthusiastic and controversial father, LaVar.
Was LaVar Ball around the team much?
“Zero,” Alford said.
Was he ever at practice?
“Never at practice,” Alford said. “Never at practice; never called me.”
Did he ever try to meddle in your coaching?
“Never,” Alford said.
It’s a subject interesting many as the Lakers figure out who they will take with the second overall pick in next month’s draft. Some wonder if LaVar Ball’s comments could hurt Lonzo in the draft process or even once he enters the NBA.
The Lakers might be undeterred. They like Lonzo. As part of their study of the top players in the draft, they will call Alford, the UCLA men’s basketball coach, to ask what kind of presence LaVar had with his team. More than anything, though, they’ll evaluate Lonzo Ball the player — independent of his outspoken father.
“I am aware of some of the comments of Lonzo’s dad, and I think he’s someone who’s passionate about his son,” said Jeanie Buss, the Lakers controlling owner. “I admire that. In my long history there was a time when I was heavily involved in tennis promotion, so I dealt with a lot of the tennis players’ parents. Their commitment to their kids rivals LaVar Ball’s connection to his own children.”
“It’s funny for me,” Lonzo said in April. “I just look at it and laugh. I know how he’s been since Day 1, it’s just that now all of America gets to see him because he’s on the TV all the time. I know he loves exposure, so it’s good for him and I just hope he stays the same. I don’t want my dad to change.”
The Lakers have drafted players younger than Lonzo before. He’ll be 20 for most of his rookie season, whereas Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac and D’Angelo Russell were all 19 for most of theirs. Kobe Bryant turned 18 after he was drafted.