Former NBA All-Star and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley shot back at LaVar Ball for suggesting he could beat the 1992-93 Most Valuable Player in a game of one-on-one.
On Thursday, TMZ Sports passed along Barkley's response after Ball joked the power forward ate too many doughnuts to keep pace with him. Barkley also raved about Ball's son, UCLA guard Lonzo Ball, and his NBA outlook:
The elder Ball, who's stolen the spotlight in recent weeks for a variety of far-fetched comments about the impending greatness of his kin, stated Wednesday on ESPN's SportsCenter (via ESPN.com) that Barkley used to be his favorite player, but his sons Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo now hold that status.
He also downplayed the possibility of an on-court showdown between Barkley and himself, though he pinned the blame on Sir Charles' fitness level.
"He wants to play one-and-one and all this, and he says I averaged two points, 'Who cares?'" Ball said. "... I know he don't want to play one-on-one because he's too big. He better stay behind that TNT thing ... and eat them doughnuts."
The public war of words came in response to perhaps Ball's most outlandish suggestion yet: that he could've beaten Michael Jordan one-on-one.
The former Washington State and Cal State LA player suggested he would "kill" MJ in a head-to-head battle in his prime during an interview with Josh Peter of USA Today:
I would just back (Jordan) in and lift him off the ground and call a foul every time he fouls me when I do a jump hook to the right or the left. He cannot stop me one-on-one. He better make every shot 'cause he can't go around me. He's not fast enough. And he can only make so many shots outside before I make every bucket under the rim.
Clearly Ball operates under the old adage, "any publicity is good publicity," because some of his recent comments are mind-boggling. Thinking he could beat perhaps the greatest player in history, not to mention one of sports' all-time best competitors, is ludicrous.
The question moving forward is whether his remarks and presence could have a negative impact on his sons. Sean Deveney of Sporting News passed along comments from one NBA general manager who believes it could:
It doesn't help, all this stuff with his father. I don't know what is gained for the kid by putting that much pressure on him. Nobody from the league has been meeting with (Lonzo Ball) or anything, but that is going to be another thing to look at when it comes to due diligence before the draft. How does he handle his dad, is it just something he laughs about, or is it real pressure on him?
We'll see how Lonzo Ball responds to the added pressure and attention when UCLA kicks off its NCAA tournament journey against MAC champion Kent State on Friday night.