Depending on interpretation, Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson complimented basketball’s most outspoken father, LaVar Ball, with a bombshell comparison — to Kris Jenner, mother/manager of the Kardashian clan.
When discussing the Lakers’ potential decision of drafting UCLA star Lonzo Ball, Johnson told ESPN Radio Los Angeles on Wednesday that LaVar Ball deserves “a lot of credit” for his parenting. Johnson saw LaVar Ball’s publicity stunts and outlandish comments on the same page as Jenner.
“The Kardashians, we didn’t say that the mom (Jenner) was bad, and she made them a lot of money, right? She’s bragged on her daughters, and I think it’s the same here,” Johnson said, punctuating the point that the Balls are a nice fit for Los Angeles.
“He’s just saying, ‘Hey, my son is great,’ and there’s nothing bad with that. So we’re not looking at LaVar being a problem if we’re blessed to have the opportunity to draft Lonzo. We don’t know at this time if we’re going to do that at this time.”
LaVar has also managed the family’s Big Baller Brand, which just introduced Lonzo’s signature shoe, the ZO2 — running at $495 after major companies Under Armour, Nike and Adidas passed on working with the Ball family. Several players, including the Cavs’ Kyrie Irving, have cautioned that LaVar will have to take a step back once Lonzo officially begins his professional career. Ex-NBA players have also said they expect current superstars to take it to Lonzo because of his father.
Yet Johnson has no qualms with LaVar’s influence on Lonzo and has been firm with his stance that selecting Lonzo would be solely based on basketball and Lonzo himself. Johnson reiterated that point Wednesday, saying, “I don’t look at any parent, when it comes to a professional league, that would be a problem.
“As long as it doesn’t bother (Lonzo), it’s not going to bother the Laker organization, as long as Lonzo performs on the basketball court,” said Johnson, who has yet to meet with Lonzo. He said the Lakers are scheduling an individual workout with him in the next few weeks that he’s “looking forward to.” Ball is widely expected to be available with the No. 2 pick, since the Celtics are likely to take Washington point guard Markelle Fultz.
In the interview, Johnson also seemed to make a comparison to Michael Jordan and his father, James, as well as Tiger Woods and his father, Earl, when discussing a father’s affection for his son — whether outspoken or not.
“We’ve always had parents who loved their sons or daughters, who play in professional golf or basketball, or whatever, who get involved, who get excited, and also who think that their child is the best,” Johnson said. “Some will say it publicly, some will only think it, but I have no problem with LaVar.”