LaVar Ball on meeting with Lakers: Just want what's best for Lonzo

ByRamona Shelburne ESPN logo
Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Los Angeles Lakers' front office recently had a meeting with LaVar Ball, the outspoken father of rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, asking him to tone down some of his public criticisms of head coach Luke Walton and help create a more positive atmosphere around his son, sources told ESPN.

The meeting, which took place within the past few weeks, was called by Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka.

LaVar Ball confirmed that the meeting took place, telling ESPN, "It was the best thing, man. Everybody's going to try to make it an ego thing, like I'm trying to tell them what to do or they're trying to tell me to tone it down. It's not about that. It's about coming together and to get a solution to this problem.

"It may sound crazy to other people, but I really just want the best for Lonzo, and the best for Lonzo is going to be what's best for the organization. Because if everybody's winning, we good."

Johnson and Pelinka declined to comment when asked about the meeting. A Lakers insider said the main message to Ball was that they've tried to keep their relationship positive while still allowing him to speak his mind, and they'd prefer he did the same.

Ball said he agreed with that characterization, for the most part, and that he told Johnson and Pelinka he understood their position and would try to abide by that request.

"I'm going to say whatever I want to say, however I want to say it," Ball said. "And they said, 'LaVar, come and talk to us first.' So that's fine, too.

"But I am going to say, to plant a seed, 'Let's look for this now.' They may not want to hear that, but it's going to be successful if you listen to what I'm saying on that fact, that I know what it takes for my son to run like this."

Ball said he does not have a direct relationship with Walton, whom he has criticized for not playing his son for long-enough stretches, among other things.

"I never talk to Luke on account of the fact that I can't. He's either at practice or after the game, he's doing his thing and I'm doing mine," Ball said. "I understand. I talked to Luke way before the season starts."

For his part, Walton has consistently declined to comment or give oxygen to Ball's criticisms.

"Anyone that says anything about us, not just him [LaVar Ball], but anyone, if you are not part of our group or circle, have whatever opinion you want. It doesn't matter," Walton told ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk in a recent interview. "We are in here every day grinding and working on getting better.

"With anything within the team, if I feel there is a disruption between our team and between the people within these walls, I just bring everyone to the film room and talk about it. I air it out. I don't care if it is uncomfortable. ... Something I learned from Steve [Kerr] is to never let a small thing turn into a big thing. Nip it in the bud right away. There have been a couple of times where we aired it [issues] out, and most of the time it is nothing. But as long as we talk about it and move forward as a group, it is back to where we are again.

"It is the people in our circle and bubble that are trying to move this thing in the right direction. As long as that circle is strong and that group has the trust in each other, it doesn't matter at all what anyone else has to say about us."

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