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Lakers president Magic Johnson: LaVar Ball told me it’s all just marketing


LaVar Ball says outlandish things to get attention. He gets attention.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

But how will that that notoriety affect the Lakers, who drafted LaVar’s son, Lonzo Ball?

Lakers president Magic Johnson, via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

“He just said it’s marketing,” Johnson says. “That’s what he had to do to market not only his son but the brand. Before I met him I had already thought that. I already knew what he was doing.”

But hearing it straight from LaVar’s mouth helped put Johnson and Pelinka at ease.

As Johnson recalls, “He said, ‘Earvin, look, I’m not following my son. I’m not going to be hanging out in L.A. I’m going to be training these young kids [his other sons].’”

“‘As far as training my boy, this is as far as I can take him,’” LaVar says he told Johnson. “‘I’ll leave it up to you to take him further. You can get him better with the film time and the coaching. You can take him to another level.’”

“I trust you with my boy. I just got a great feeling that you guys are going to take Zo to a whole other level.’”

Steve Alford also said LaVar never meddled while Lonzo was at UCLA. But Alford is also (implicitly or explicitly) recruiting LaVar’s other sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo. So, Alford has incentive to side with LaVar.

Former Chino Hills coach Stephan Gilling tells a far different story about LaVar’s involvement.

Of course, the Lakers aren’t Chino Hills. And even if LaVar tries to intercede on behalf of his son, he wouldn’t be the first father of an NBA player to do so. He’d just be the most public. Well-run NBA teams are equipped to handle stuff like that.

Still, even if LaVar keeps his distance and just talks into microphones far from the Lakers’ facility, not everyone will be as accepting of his marketing scheme. LaVar’s words can put a target on Lonzo from opponents and teammates.

LaVar isn’t the bogeyman some make him out to be, but this won’t necessarily be simple for the Lakers.