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Lakers stay the course as LaVar Ball ramps up criticism of Luke Walton

first_imgThe relationship has become more turbulent in recent weeks, however, as LaVar Ball has ramped up his criticism of Lakers coach Luke Walton.“He just speaks his mind,” Lonzo Ball said. “Whatever he feels he is going to say, not going to hold nothing back. My job is just to play.”Ball is averaging 8.8 points, 7 assists and 6.9 rebounds more than a quarter of the way into his rookie season.The Lakers have been careful not to legitimize LaVar Ball’s critiques by responding to them directly, but the constant bombast has caused some concern within the organization that LaVar’s message could eventually undercut Walton’s influence with Lonzo.“They have their own relationship,” Walton said. “Lonzo does a great job of doing what we ask him to do. I don’t know what they talk about in private, but Lonzo’s an incredible team player. He’s here to make our team better. He’s always been on board with what we try to do.” Cat avoids California wildfire after owner, Lakers’ Brook Lopez, springs for limo ride AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersRelated Articles Heisler: Can someone from Lakers tell LaVar Ball to shut up? CHARLOTTE — There was no mistaking the boastful baritone that caromed off the concrete hallways of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Thursday.“I heard him while I was in the locker room,” Lonzo Ball said. “I was laughing.”In reality, the powerful voice of Ball’s father, LaVar, has been penetrating the walls of the Lakers organization since well before the franchise decided to use the No. 2 overall pick on the former UCLA and Chino Hills High star.The franchise has maintained a pleasant relationship with LaVar, and in September the President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson insisted he did not care what the famous NBA dad had to say unless “something happens where it affects his son and it affects his son on the court.” Since Ball’s arrival, the Lakers have strictly enforced a policy at Staples Center that prohibits members of the media from conducting interviews in the family waiting area after games. But there really is no silencing LaVar Ball.Walton brushed aside comments LaVar made in a radio interview this week in which he questioned Walton’s decision to not play his son for all 12 minutes of fourth quarters.“We don’t take parents’ opinions into our coaching decisions and how we’re trying to grow as a group,” Walton said. “The relationship with Lonzo means a lot to me, so I stay in constant contact with him and how he’s doing. But as far as other people’s thoughts on what we should do, I don’t concern myself with those.”Earlier this season, LaVar Ball was quoted as saying Lakers coaches “don’t know how to coach my son.” Indeed, for most of Lonzo Ball’s life, his father has been his coach.When LaVar doesn’t approve of coaches, he tends to find new situations for his sons, as demonstrated by his decision to pull 16-year-old son LaMelo out of Chino Hills earlier this year and home school him.LaVar Ball told SiriusXM NBA Radio his son’s early season struggles are “a very easily fixable thing if everybody would just drop their egos and just listen to what I’m saying.”He said he had to “force this issue” on coaches at Chino Hills and UCLA. Now, he seems to be trying to do the same with Walton, saying his problem is not with Johnson.“Magic’s always doing the right thing,” LaVar Ball said. “Me and him got a nice communication. But it’s the coach out there. Luke Walton is doing what he’s doing, playing Lonzo in and out. Play him a few minutes here, then wonder why his legs are tore up. (It’s because) they run him 100 miles an hour, then shut him down for 10 minutes.”Lonzo Ball complained of tightness in his calves for the two games before Thursday, when he came up with the game-winning assist against the 76ers. Ball found Brandon Ingram for a 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds remaining to help the Lakers snap a five-game losing streak.But on a night Lonzo Ball shot 5 for 11 from the field and scored 10 points to go with eight rebounds, eight assists, four blocked shots and three steals, the elder Ball still managed to steal the show. Throughout the fourth quarter he pantomimed to the crowd from a luxury suite and camped outside the Lakers’ locker room to wait for his son.“I knew he was very happy that we won,” Lonzo Ball said. “So that’s good.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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