Lakers enforcing so-called 'LaVar Ball rule' at Staples Center

ByChris Haynes ESPN logo
Monday, December 4, 2017

In what many employees at Staples Center view as the "LaVar Ball rule," this season, the Los Angeles Lakers are enforcing a policy that no longer allows members of the media to congregate in a section of the arena among family and associates of players after games.

Family, friends and agents wait for players in the seats behind the basket closest to the visiting team's locker room at the end of games. Interviews conducted in that designated area and near the tunnel leading to the arena corridors are now forbidden.

In prior years, media socialized and, at times, interviewed individuals in that sector without interference. If a media member is recognized in that area now, arena security or Lakers staffers direct that he or she leave the area.

"It's not a new policy; it's an existing policy," a team spokesperson told ESPN. "There has been more media presence in that area than before. That section is strictly for family and guests of players. It's a privacy concern."

LaVar Ball, the father of Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, is also not permitted to do interviews on the court, something he did on opening night after the LA Clippers defeated the Lakers 108-92. The league's rule is that an individual must be credentialed in order to walk onto the court. LaVar Ball hasn't done an on-court interview since.

A handful of rival front-office executives deem this matter as a necessary reinforcement to prevent LaVar Ball from having a routine postgame platform in which he's occasionally critical of the team.

"I'm not worried about the LaVar Ball rule," LaVar Ball told ESPN's Jeff Goodman when asked about the Lakers' policy.

In mid-November after a game, LaVar Ball told Bleacher Report that the Lakers' coaching staff should take a specific approach to coaching his son: Be tougher on him.

"They're soft. They don't know how to coach my son," Ball told the website. "I know how to coach him. I tell him to go get the victory. Stop messing around."

Lakers coach Luke Walton was forced to respond at the time: "I will say this: I think that he has done a phenomenal job as a father with Lonzo because Lonzo is a special young man; he's selfless, he's unselfish, his teammates love him and he cares about them and plays the game the right way. So he has done a great job with that. But we are not concerned with what parents think of how we are coaching the team. We are contented with the team and what is best for the team and how we can continue to get better."

On Wednesday, after a 127-123 loss in overtime to the Golden State Warriors, in a postgame interview with ESPN, LaVar Ball said Julius Randle should have passed the ball ahead to his son in transition for a potential game winner, and he questioned Walton's decision to call a timeout.

"I'll tell you the crucial point. When Julius [Randle] got that ball at the end, he should have thrown it forward. Lonzo had a wide-open layup. Or 3-pointer. That's game. It wouldn't have gone to overtime. That was game. ... Julius tried to take too many dribbles, then they fouled him, or they called timeout. But if he would have thrown the ball ahead, Coach wouldn't have called a timeout. Even if he did, he can't call it because the ball's in the air. Lonzo's running the lane, game over. That's the best time to score.

"... But every time they score two 3-pointers, it's a game of runs. Don't call timeout, because that's means you're scared. You make two 3-pointers on me, I got two more to come. ... Do the Big Baller move. Don't call no timeouts."

Retired Lakers forward A.C. Green, a good friend of Magic Johnson's, recently told TMZ that he has no issue with what LaVar Ball said about Randle and Walton.

"I don't think he has any affiliation with the Lakers ... but he has an opinion," Green said in the interview. "And you guys keep giving him the opportunity to share his opinion, and you should ... He's going to do what he does."

Last week, apparently unrelated to LaVar Ball, the Lakers implemented a new protocol barring media personnel, with the exception of those doing TV live shots, from sitting in the courtside seats on the Lakers' end of the court while players are getting pregame work in.

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