Charles Barkley on LaVar Ball: 'He's Just Exploiting' Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2017

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12:  Tina Ball, Lonzo Ball, LaVar Ball, LaMelo Ball and LiAngelo Ball attend the Los Angeles Lakers Vs New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden on December 12, 2017 in New York City.  (Photo by James Devaney/Getty Images)
James Devaney/Getty Images

Former NBA star and current TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley ripped LaVar Ball during an interview on ESPN Radio's Golic & Wingo show (h/t Cork Gaines of Business Insider):  

"Everybody talking about how he might be a good father, this and that. No he's not. He's just exploiting his kids. ... He's all about Big Baller Brand. He has no foreseeable talent. He's trying to make money off his kids, and I just feel sadness for those kids because they're going to do whatever he tells them to do. I just don't like the guy at all, plain and simple. And don't tell me he's a good father. Just because you exploit your kids, trying to make money because you have no talent, that does not make you a good father."

Barkley wasn't done there.

"I wish there was a place farther away from America they could send him," Barkley said. "I don't know where Lithuania is, but if there is another place farther away, I would love it."

That was in reference to the news Tuesday that LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball were signing one-year contracts to play for Lithuanian club Prienu Vytautas

It was the latest development for basketball's made-for-reality-television family in what has been a wild year, which began with Lonzo Ball's superstardom at UCLA. From there, LaVar launched Big Baller Brand, a sports apparel company, and remained a consistently outspoken advocate for his sons and marketer for his brand. His strong takes in the media made him a controversial figure in the process.

Lonzo eventually was drafted No. 2 overall by the Los Angeles Lakers and LiAngelo Ball headed to UCLA. The latter was arrested for allegedly shoplifting in China while on a trip overseas with the Bruins, however, and after returning to the United States, he was suspended indefinitely

The Ball family ultimately decided to withdraw LiAngelo from UCLA. LaMelo's future NCAA eligibility was already in doubt, meanwhile, after he was given his own signature shoe with the Big Baller Brand.

Through it all, debates have raged regarding the decisions LaVar and his family have made and whether the eldest Ball is exploiting his children or simply helping his family maximize the amount of money it could make at the expense of being exploited by other institutions like the NCAA—where players aren't paid—or other shoe companies.

Barkley clearly feels LaVar is guilty of the former.

"I just feel sadness that the media—CNN, ESPN—has given this guy a platform," he noted. "He represents everything that is bad about sports. It's all about him. I just feel bad for those kids."

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