Death, taxes, and LaVar Ball getting under the skin of just about everyone.
Those are just a few sad certain realities in today’s world. One of the most outspoken and controversial figures in the world of sports, LaVar Ball never hesitates to speak his mind, consequences be damned. With his eldest son Lonzo and the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers roster struggling, LaVar decided to drop another hot take, saying that the team doesn’t want to play for coach Luke Walton any longer.
“You can see they’re not playing for Luke no more,” Ball said. “Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him.”
This prompted a reaction from former Detroit Pistons and current Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, who quickly jumped to Walton’s defense while criticizing ESPN for publishing Ball’s remarks.
“ESPN is an NBA partner, and they’ve been a great one,” Carlisle said. “But part of that partnership is that the coaches do a lot of things to help them with access, interviews and all those kinds of things. And in exchange for that, they should back up the coaches.”
Not one to be shy to speak his mind, current Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy also weighed in, and echoed Carlisle’s sentiments.
“I thought it was a cheap shot and I thought ESPN showed total disrespect,”” Van Gundy said on Monday. “I don’t have a problem with LaVar Ball. He’s a grown man. He can voice whatever opinion he wants. I got a problem with ESPN deciding that’s a story.”
As a more measured response to ESPN, Van Gundy contacted both NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the NBAPA, saying he won’t be participating in the extra access given to TV when ESPN airs Detroit’s January 19 game against the Washington Wizards.
“I’m not meeting with their announcing crew before the game, I’m not doing the in-game interview,” Van Gundy said. “I’m not going to participate in the thing.”
“I’m not denying them access. I’m not kicking them out of press conferences,” he continued. “They want extra stuff from us and they’re going to treat an NBA coach with that little respect? Then I’m going to choose not to give them extra access.”
He went on to emphasize that while there isn’t anything wrong with criticizing NBA head coaches, he took special umbrage at what he took as an unnecessary platform being given to Ball.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you guys criticizing coaches,” Van Gundy said. “You guys cover the team. You’re paid in part to analyze what’s going on. I’ve never had an issue with anybody’s who’s criticized me.”