There are very few things I find more unsettling in sports right now than watching Lonzo Ball sit silently, usually staring at the ground, while his father speaks for him during an interview. That’s not meant to be an indictment on LaVar as a parent, as I truly can’t judge him effectively in that arena. I don’t have enough facts – because LaVar is constantly the only one talking.
However, in almost every other arena of entertainment, a parent taking such control of their child’s life and dominating the spotlight so aggressively has been a constant source of controversy and almost always ends disastrously. In other words, there are far more Dina Lohans in the world than there are Kris Kardashians. There’s no saying which stage mom LaVar will resemble more in the long run, but in the mean time, Lonzo is doing his best to make the most of a weird situation:
— Foot Locker (@footlocker) June 14, 2017
At 19 years old and poised to start a hopefully successful career in the NBA, Lonzo is still under the thumb of his helicopter father – literally sitting in his shadow. If that were a young actress or musician, closing in on their 20th birthday as their mother or father toted them around like a pageant kid, the entertainment media would talk about nothing else.
As a normal, non-celebrity human in the world, I can tell you that my independence upon heading off to college was a monumental opportunity for growth. I learned so much about myself in that time when I was given the opportunity to make decisions about the kind of person I wanted to be and the future I wanted to have. Hell yeah, I still needed my mother. I still need her on a daily basis now, and I’ve been out of college for six years. But had she been there, at my side for every class I decided to take or every interview I went on, I would’ve been worse off for it.
That’s not to say that Lonzo’s life is anything like mine. It’s just that moving on without a parent acting as your mouthpiece is a universal process that we all have to experience in order to become productive adults. The jokes Lonzo is making here aren’t meant to be funny in a laugh-out-loud way, they are meant to be funny in a dark, “if you don’t laugh you’ll cry” way. The stuff he’s saying isn’t hyperbole. It would be legitimately humorous if he were taking real situations and exaggerating them to fit an overblown media narrative, but that’s not the case. LaVar really did tell 95% of the teams in the NBA not to even bother drafting his son.
So yeah, I can laugh at the commercial because it’s well executed and it gives Lonzo at least some avenue through which to acknowledge the insanity of his reality. Still, I can’t help but notice that while we’re all laughing, Lonzo doesn’t actually appear to be that amused.