When the Los Angeles Lakers selected Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, Magic Johnson believed he was taking the franchise’s point guard of the future.
But there was some hesitancy in making the pick from Johnson, and according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, he wasn’t sure about selecting Ball until he met with his father, LaVar.
LaVar is known for being brash and outspoken, but he put Magic at ease when they met in Chino Hills a week before the draft.
Johnson told Shelburne that LaVar’s persona is all about marketing for his family and the Big Baller Brand.
“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.
“(LaVar) 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].'”
LaVar told Magic that he’s trained Lonzo and taken him as far as he can, and it’s now up to Magic and the Lakers’ staff to “take him further.”
“You can get him better with the film time and the coaching. You can take him to another level,” LaVar said.
“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.”
According to Shelburne, that was all Magic and new general manager Rob Pelinka needed to here to be sold on taking Lonzo with the No. 2 pick.
LaVar’s antics are ridiculous and all for attention, but it seems to have worked out for him and his family thus far. There’s likely resentment from other players around the league, but LaVar’s ability to market his family and himself has worked.
And if Lonzo turns out to be a star for the Lakers, that will increase the family’s—and LaVar’s—popularity. Be prepared to hear from the Ball family for many years.