In this social media driven and addicted-to-attention world we live in, LaVar Ball has managed
to rise above even the best self-promoters. With his mouth and very little else, he has succeeded
in securing millions upon millions of dollars in free publicity for his fledging sports apparel
company and the signature shoes of his son, Lonzo. I applaud him for being a semi-marketing
Ball has morphed into the pied piper with the media--no matter how outrageous, stupid, and
foolish the things that come out of his mouth are, they continue to report on, not to mention,
cater to him. He talks smack about Barkley, Jordan, and says his kid is going to be better than
Magic. If LaVar talks, the media will listen and be sure to make it front page news. If he says something close to being controversial, he will be "trending" or go "viral." Simply amazing.
The America media gave Ball a soap box and he's using it, and them, brilliantly.
Listening to him preach and talk stupid, joggled my memory and brought me back to the time I
met LaVarr Ball. In 1995, I was in Clemson, South Carolina visiting a former classmate from
the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We decided to play some hoop at a semi-inner
city basketball court before going out on the town.
When we arrived at the court, one that had chain-linked hoops and was surrounded by fencing that
had seen better days, there was a game of 2-on-2 going on. A rather large man wearing a gray Carolina Panthers T-shirt that was completely drenched with sweat, dominated the court with
his mouth and body. He stood about 6'5" and weighed about 260 pounds or so. He was talking
trash to everyone and anyone. Nobody seemed to be listening.
I asked someone sitting in the small set of stands near courtside who the trash-talking
dude on the court was. I vividly remember him saying, "Some guy who plays on the Panthers
practice squad." I replied, "If he's a practice player on an expansion team, he can't be all that
good. And he has no business talking all that smack."
It was LaVar Ball.
In their inaugural season in the NFL, the Panthers played all their home games at Clemson
University before their new stadium in Charlotte was ready. Ball was a defensive end who
never got off the practice squad. Never played a down for the Panthers, but he could play a little basketball. A little.
Ball played one season at Washington State where he averaged a not-so-robust 2.2 points-per
game. Despite his less-than distinguished career, Ball claimed he could beat Michael Jordan and
Charles Barkley in a game of one-on-one.
Back on that hardcourt near Clemson in 1995, Ball challenged my friend, who happened
to be a darn good basketball player at UNC, starting all but two games during his 4-year career.
He was cut after being drafted by the NBA in the second round and spent nearly five years
playing in Europe. However, he was wearing a Carolina football t-shirt and when Ball asked
him what position he played at Carolina, my friend, without hesitation, said "wide receiver."
Ball laughed and said, "Come, on. How much you got?" My friend said, "Me and my friend
will play you for $200. Pick your teammate and let's do it."
Ball thought he was about to pull off the biggest heist since the Italian Job. He picked his
teammate and my friend, the former UNC hoops star, dragged me onto the court. I was a
decent-to-good athlete, having played baseball at UNC and in the Red Sox system as a catcher.
I could fill up some space on the court and get out of the way when needed.
My friend and teammate brought his 'A' game and then some. Spin moves, crossover dribbles,
windmill dunks--he packed and used his entire arsenal. LaVar Ball knew he'd been had. The
game wasn't even close as the UNC boys walked away with the 10-2 victory.
Ball was livid. "I'm not giving you a dime. You are a ringer. Total B.S. Not cool. No dice
and no money."
The Big Baller tried to bail on paying up. He was running off the court and headed for his
car. He was talking smack on his way out, jawing back and forth with my friend. LaVar
forgot about me as I was lurking by the exit of the court. He walked right into the close-line
I learned to hang from watching "The Longest Yard."
Ball went down in a thud on the pavement. In the fetal position, Ball was crying like
a baby. There was a wad of bills sticking out of the waste band of his gym shorts, which I
helped myself to. The UNC boys split up the cash and laughed our way off the court. That's
the last I heard of LaVar Ball until he opened his mouth a few months ago.
Is this story true? Of course not. It's just a figment of my imagination, kind of like the stuff that
passes from the cranium of Big Daddy Ball through his mouth. I just wanted to see what it's
like to talk smack, say outlandish things, and be totally delusional like Big Daddy Ball. I figured
if I talked and wrote stupid like Big Daddy Ball, I might go viral or have sports talk radio argue
over me all day. I wanted to see if Stephen A. Smith would invite me on 'First Take' just to yell
and scream about nothing in particular.
Man, that was easy.
Just stretch the truth and totally make things up and you have a compelling story that has the
media eating right out of your hand. I'm sure the media would've believed the story, forgetting to check the facts, just as they did with the Manti Te'o extravaganza. However, I made it easy for them and tapped out early.
The media. They think its LaVar Ball's world and they are just living in it. Good for LaVar