In case you forgot, on June 25th 2009 the dancing machine who re-invented entertainment, Michael Jackson, died. 3 days later, during the red-carpet pre-show of the BET Awards, CNN’s Don Lemon briefly interviewed Joe Jackson, Michael’s father. In a matter of minutes Joe Jackson confirmed, to the 10 million plus tuned in, how self-centered he is.
The second question Lemon asked Joe Jackson during the interview was, “The last couple of days, I know it’s been really tough for you guys?”
Joe Jackson replied with one word, coldly he said, “And.”
His reply shocked no one familiar with the Jackson family saga, but with each subsequent question Joe Jackson continued to show his egocentrism.
Lemon continued by asking Joe Jackson, “Is there anything you would like to share with the world about your son and about his legacy?”
Joe Jackson responded to this question by calling on a publicist to read a statement prepared for Joe Jackson and the Jackson family. The moment was awkward, and begged the question, why would a father need to have prepared statement to address the love he had for his son, and the impact his son had on the world?
Further into the interview Lemon asks Joe Jackson, “Do you know anything, Mr. Jackson about funeral arrangements?”
Joe Jackson replied, “Not yet we haven’t gotten to that yet,” and without pause he introduces Don Lemon to his business partner, Marshall Thompson of the Chi-Lites, to gleefully promote his record company, Ranch Records. It was an ego moment reminiscent of the chip on Kanye West’s shoulder.
On April 30th 2017, ESPN senior writer Darren Rovell reported that the three major shoe brands, Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour who traditionally compete for top NBA prospects to endorse their products, would not be offering an endorsement deal to UCLA star, and the #1 or #2 overall projected prospect in the 2017 NBA draft, Lonzo Ball. As unlikely as it is for a superstar College Basketball player destined to be one of the top two picks in the NBA draft to not be offered an endorsement deal by the big three shoe companies, the reason why, is equally perplexing.
It’s because of Lonzo Ball’s father LaVar Ball, the Joe Jackson of Basketball. Rovell quotes Lavar Ball in his ESPN article as having said, “We’ve said from the beginning, we aren’t looking for an endorsement deal, we’re looking for co-branding, a true partner. But they’re not ready for that because they’re not used to that model. But hey, the taxi industry wasn’t ready for Uber, either.”
Now that’s ego. A really big ego. A Joe Jacksonesque ego.
LaVar Ball in several media appearances has promoted his Big Baller Brand, an athletic apparel company, he hopes will become a household name like the Jordan brand. LaVar Ball’s attempt to leverage his son’s college basketball success into a profitable brand that will inevitably benefit himself and his family isn’t ridiculous in theory. However, when you consider that Lonzo Ball hasn’t played a single minute in the NBA it’s clear how foolish and costly LaVar Ball’s egocentrism has already been to Lonzo Ball.
Last year’s #1 NBA draft pick Ben Simmons received a 5 year $20 Million dollar endorsement deal with Nike, according to USA Today. On May 4th 2017, LaVar Ball and his Big Baller Brand debuted Lonzo Ball’s signature shoe the ZO2 Prime with a price tag of $495. A pair of Nike Air Jordan’s have never been released with a price tag of $495, and Michael Jordan is universally recognized as the greatest basketball player ever. In addition, Big Baller Brand would have to sell more than 40 thousand ZO2’s to equal Ben Simmons endorsement deal with Nike, and that is highly unlikely, especially if you’re in it alone. Lonzo can thank LaVar’s ego for that.
The only thing LaVar Ball’s egocentrism has succeeded in doing thus far is making his son Lonzo Ball’s transition from College basketball player to professional basketball player more difficult than it already is. Lonzo Ball is already a pariah before his new unknown teammates get the chance to meet him.
When LaVar Ball makes such outlandish statements as, he can beat Michael Jordan because Jordan would have been to slow and too small to guard him one on one, or when he says his son (Lonzo Ball) will be better than Magic Johnson, and that his son (Lonzo Ball) is already better than future Hall of Famer Steph Curry, that’s barbershop dialogue. Those statements are not meant to be taken seriously. However, when Lavar Ball makes those statements in an interview or via twitter they get him the attention his ego craves. It is a masterful deployment of the Kardashian business model, always seek the spotlight, watch the dummies follow, and laugh all the way to the bank.
What isn’t funny, however is when others pay the price for Lavar Ball’s ego.
Stephan Gilling was the head basketball coach at Chino Hills High School were LaMelo and LiAngleo Ball, LaVar’s other sons, played this past season. Gilling lead the school to a 30-3 record in his first year, but despite their success Gilling was fired. Gilling’s crime is believed to have been an ongoing feud with LaVar Ball.
Gilling through a twitter video, as reported by For The Win of USA Today Sports, announced his relief in being fired from his position at Chino Hill High School on April 29th 2017. When someone, anyone, announces relief at losing their source of income that means that particular source of income cost more than it was worth.
For The Win reports that Gilling and LaVar Ball’s relationship went sour during the Tarkanian Classic Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas in December 2016. Chino Hills was playing Roosevelt High, and by halftime they were down by 12. At halftime, Gilling instructed his players to stop double teaming Roosevelt’s shooters and to stay in man-to-man defense in the second half, the report says.
His players listened and won the game 76-68, but during the entire second half of that game, For The Win reports, Lavar Ball kept yelling for Chino Hills players to double team Roosevelt from the stands contradicting Gilling’s instructions.
In line with his egocentrism, Lavar Ball following the victory over Roosevelt, as reported by For The Win, was upset and confronted coach Gilling for instructing his team against Ball’s wishes. Gilling replied that he was doing what was necessary to win the game, which they did, but that explanation wasn’t sufficient for LaVar Ball who then headed into the Chino Hills locker room, after Gilling asked him not to.
Gilling requested that LaVar Ball leave the team locker room, and Ball refused, as reported by For The Win. Gilling was forced to have the team leave the locker room, and head back to the hotel, LaMelo and LiAngelo Ball were the only players who didn’t follow the coach back to the team’s hotel at that time.
The report by For the Win also goes on to detail how LaVar Ball, after the locker room incident, went to the hotel and talked to the team on the 18th floor and advised them that he was running things and not Coach Gilling.
For the Win writer Andrew Joseph quotes Coach Gilling describing the after-tournament hotel incident this way, “An assistant coach comes up to me and tells me that he sees LaVar rallying the team up, I guess he got them out of their rooms on the 18th floor and tells the team that it was his system that won. That we’re doing what he says. ‘I run Chino Hills! I run UCLA, about to run the NBA!’”
That is ego. A really big ego, especially considering LaVar Ball averaged a measly two points in College during his playing days.
Joseph goes on in his report to quote Coach Gilling as saying the following regarding the team chemistry after the hotel incident, “So, throughout the rest of the year, we had games that I would not talk to them (LaMelo and LiAngelo), The kids looked at me different. Not all of them, but some. They understood and knew they were caught in the middle of it all. It was sad for the kids because it was from that point on that they didn’t know who to listen to. It was also noticeable that things were being said at home, and brought back to the gym in a way of, like, they’re not listening to the coaches.”
To be clear I am not critiquing LaVar Ball for wanting the best for his son’s or being involved in their lives, and nobody should have an issue with LaVar Ball encouraging or even requiring his sons to work hard, and protecting them from the inevitable collegiate and professional vultures who will pick their carcass bare if not checked, but clearly LaVar Ball has reached a point where what he is doing is no longer about LaMelo, LiAngelo, and Lonzo Ball. Through his actions, not just his cartoonish proclamations, LaVar has most assuredly scorched bridges his sons have yet to cross.
LaVar Ball through his actions is going to force, LaMelo, LiAngelo, and Lonzo Ball to muster the will to write LaVar out of their lives. The same way Michael Jackson, because of his father’s actions, wrote Joe Jackson out of his will.
If, and I believe most likely when, that happens, LaVar Ball will become an opponent to his son’s, an opponent they can’t afford to lose too, because it will mean the end of their careers, and could potentially jeopardize the families they will eventually develop for themselves.
It is at that point LaVar Ball will be left with his ego, him and his ego, his really big Joe Jacksonesque ego.
You can find Deonte’s Podcast on Youtube: Run It Back Radio