Playing one-on-one with LaVar Ball
After joining the Chicago Bulls, Lonzo Ball found himself back on a winning team with high aspirations for this season, and Lonzo is one of the vital pieces of that squad. He is having a solid season and continues to show improvement in every aspect, especially his shooting, which he took to the next level. This is Lonzo's fifth year in the NBA, and it seems he finally found a team that is a good fit for him and could utilize his versatility in the right way.
In a recent interview for The Players Tribune, Lonzo talked about his life before the NBA and how his dad LaVar Ball was preparing him and his younger brothers for their journey to the NBA. Lonzo reminisced about all the times he played his dad LaVar one-on-one, which he considers his toughest matchup in his entire life.
"The toughest player I've ever guarded was definitely my dad. He used to kill me in the backyard growing up. He had no jump shot. No handle. He was just all size and strength. Didn't matter if I was nine, 12, or 15 years old — he would post me up and talk all this trash about how I couldn't stop him."
LaVar was extremely tough on his sons, and when they played one-on-one, he set up a few rules that made things more challenging for them to beat him. They had to face adversity early on in their life when playing basketball, and nothing was given easily to them because they had to earn it and put in the extra work.
"And he was right. I couldn't. I was just too small. But he never let me back down. He wouldn't allow that. He'd get me in the post and run me over — just go right through me — then I'd get up, and he'd come right back at me and do it again. He did it to LiAngelo and LaMelo, too. We couldn't do nothing with it. But we had to try to stand our ground."
His dad was motivated him to be better
Interestingly enough, Lonzo admits he couldn't beat his dad until he was a senior in high school. He feels grateful because it was excellent preparation for his college career and even the NBA. Getting trash-talked and in some way bullied helped him develop a mindset not to give up no matter who he was playing against, and that is now visible when you watch him play for the Bulls.
"It wasn't until near the end of my high school career — when I was maybe 17 or 18 and like 6-foot-6 and could actually move — that I was finally able to lock him down and stop him from getting to the rim. But man, those days in the backyard? They definitely prepared me for high school ball, college, and even the NBA ... So I knew coming in that every time I stepped on the court, I was gonna get everybody's best. And you have to have a certain mindset to go out there every night with that target on your back and be able to take the hits and keep going — like I did in the backyard growing up."
There was a lot of criticism pointed towards LaVar Ball, primarily because of numerous ridiculous statements he made in the last couple of years. Honestly, some of that was justified because LaVar sometimes said many things that made no sense just to build up the hype surrounding his sons or his brand. However, you have to appreciate LaVar because he now has two sons in the NBA, having solid careers with LiAngelo playing in the G League, looking for an opportunity to join his brothers in the NBA.
His dedication to his sons is a testament anything is possible, and spending so much time with them to help them perfect their craft is one of the reasons why they are now among the elite players in the NBA. It shows that he was right when he was hyping his sons because he knows them better than anyone and is aware of what they can achieve in the league.