We are, all of us, complicit in the rise of LaVar Ball and the coincident decline of truth's importance in sports media.
You as a reader and me as a writer? Guilty times two. Both of us. We're enabling this.
Ball has spoken much into being. He has shouted things—impossible things, outlandish things—loud enough and often enough, employing what is effectively a shotgun approach to forecasting, that he's been right a few times.
But when you treat everything like prize-fight promotion, when the point of every spectacle is that it is a spectacle, you're also going to be wrong. A lot. Not that Ball cares, of course. If we're checking the scorecard on his many predictions, we're still thinking about him, and that's how he wins.
I predict he's extremely happy about this.
Lonzo a Laker
Ball was right when he predicted his oldest son, Lonzo, would be a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. This prediction had the benefit of being made about a player with legitimate high-lottery pedigree in a year the Lakers happened to have such a pick. Also, divine guidance played a role.
When deities are making your calls for you, being right isn't that impressive.
B.S. Meter Reading: No B.S.
No Back-to-Back Losses
There's something endearing about the confidence here. The Lakers were 1-2 when they faced the Washington Wizards on Oct. 25, which may mean Ball hadn't seen enough of the team to realize predicting a win of any kind was a bad idea. But he brazenly called a comeback anyway, and it came to pass.
L.A. improved to 2-2, and Lonzo had 10 assists. Afterward, the Lakers would not record a higher winning percentage than that .500 mark at any point in the season. And it's fair to mention they've gone on to lose twice in the same week several times.
B.S. Meter Reading: No B.S. at the time, much B.S. thereafter.
The Lakers Will Win 50 Games and Make the Playoffs
This one could count as pending, but...yeah, no chance.
If L.A. wins every game from now until the end of the season, it'll finish 52-30. This isn't mathematically over, but it feels close enough to call it. Ball finally missed one.
B.S. Meter Reading: Heaps of B.S., which is also the tagline for First Take.
Nailed it. Just nailed it. Total redemption after those win-total and playoff misfires. LiAngelo was a terrible thief, getting caught shoplifting with his then-UCLA teammates in China. I'm starting to think Ball is actually clairvoyant.
B.S. Meter Reading: A remarkable lack of B.S.
All Balls in L.A. by 2020
Let's unpack this one Ball at a time.
First, LiAngelo Ball would have to wind up on the Lakers alongside Lonzo, and he'd have to do it by the 2018-19 season (theoretically via the 2018 draft), according to LaVar's separate but related prediction. That's not happening—partially because there's no way the Lakers would sign on for double the Ball attention, but mainly because LiAngelo is not an NBA prospect.
When LaVar pulled him out of UCLA in December, LiAngelo's draft odds were nonexistent, according to reporting from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski:
The second-tier Lithuanian league-to-Los Angeles pipeline is, as you'd expect, clogged.
The prediction's dead before we even get to LaMelo, who is regarded as the second-most promising of the three brothers. Maybe the youngest Ball will be good enough to have a professional career, but even if it's with the Lakers, LaVar won't get points for calling this one correctly.
B.S. Meter Reading: Imminent B.S.
Lonzo Will Win Rookie of the Year
"Rookie of the Year, man, sewn up!" Ball told ESPN in July.
Add this to the list of reasons to never draw conclusions based on summer-league play.
Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell have both been statistically superior to Ball while playing more games for better teams. The odds that Ball will win Rookie of the Year are about as high as LiAngelo's of playing in an NBA game.
B.S. Meter Reading: Ben Simmons, future Rookie of the Year, has the initials "B.S." Not a coincidence.
LeBron to Los Angeles
"LeBron's coming to L.A. I know he's coming to L.A.," Ball told Jeff Goodman of ESPN in early January. "LeBron is not a fool. What's the only way he can beat [Michael] Jordan? You can't get more championships. Only one way, to say every team I've gone to I've won a championship. Go to Lakers and win a championship, then you're better than Jordan."
Technically, this one's still in play. And the Lakers have conducted business—signing one-year deals, shopping anyone they can to clear space—as if landing LeBron James is their goal this summer.
James will want to chase titles in the final years of his already exceptionally long prime, so it's hard to imagine his signing on with a team that had to strip itself down to the studs to get him. Even James, another max player and the Lakers' remaining young core wouldn't come close to competing with the West's elite clubs.
We can't say LaVar missed this one yet, but it's looking more likely than not he'll be wrong.
B.S. Meter Reading: B.S., probably.
"Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one," Ball boasted, according to Josh Peter of USA Today.
That heyday, presumably, would have been 1987-88, when Ball averaged 2.2 points and 2.3 rebounds for Washington State. Jordan won MVP and averaged 35 points per game for the Chicago Bulls that same year.
Let's attack this another way.
Adonis Jordan. Charles Jordan. DeAndre Jordan. Eddie Jordan. Jerome Jordan. Reggie Jordan.
Jordan Adams. Jordan Bell. Jordan Clarkson. Jordan Crawford. Jordan Farmar. Jordan Hamilton. Jordan Hill.
That's a baker's dozen's worth of Jordans, which is not even close to the complete list of guys with that name who played in the NBA at some point—and which, notably, is something LaVar never did.
All of those Jordans would have torched him, prime or not. So even if we'll never see such a matchup, I'm comfortable saying Ball got out of pocket on that one.
B.S. Meter Reading: All the B.S. in the universe, plus six trillion additional tons. Times five. To the 19th power.
Ball's been right a bit, wrong plenty and will be wrong plenty more. But his abnormal relationship with truth, with the very concept itself, means his veracity scorecard will never matter. Being right or wrong is irrelevant. And anyway, his bluster is benign (unless you're Luke Walton). He's spouting off on the sports world, in the arena of entertainment.
Who cares, right? There are others in positions of consequence whose combative relationship with truth matters more. Worry about that instead.
Besides, there's one thing Ball's always been right about, which he'll always be right about: Keep talking loudly, irresponsibly and with a smirk that says you're in on the joke, and people will always pay attention.