Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Balln' (on LaVar Ball and walking that thin ice)

by rick olivares pic borrowed from the sporting news

I don’t know about you, but I am having a ball following the interesting life and times of LaVar Ball and the rest of the Ball family. Yes, LaVar can be standoffish. That might even be an understatement.

The Sunday sports headlines featured three stories about the family – one, Philadelphia 76ers Joel Embiid getting fined for cussing out LaVar Ball; two, Lonzo Ball racking up a triple double in his second summer league game; and three, WNBA player Elena Delle Donne figuring in a social media war over tweets about Lonzo Ball and the Big Baller shoe.

It’s hilarious! If it isn’t Donald Trump who grabs headlines with his outrageous quotes, it’s LaVar Ball.

Now I am not a Los Angeles Lakers fan. Not even remotely close. I do though, watch a lot of NBA hoops. And as many teams as I can. I have to say through, my interest is piqued. I am no crab tough who wants to see LaVar and his Ball family fail. Good luck, I say. Just rooting though… here we go – for Embiid’s Philadelphia 76ers.

You can say that all of LaVar’s proclamations that his son Lonzo will lead the Los Angeles Lakers to the playoffs and will eventually become a better point guard than Magic Johnson are heaping loads of pressure on his eldest son and younger children even before they have played an actual minute of NBA basketball (not the summer league). For sure.

College hoops isn’t the pros. Just because one was a star in college that doesn’t mean that he is going to be all right in the pros. It is different. Way different.

I suspect that opposing players and teams will try to destroy Lonzo when they play him. The summer league showcases the rookies and hopefuls and not the veterans. All of the father’s talk had me thinking of the way Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen destroyed Toni Kukoc during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics after all the hype heaped on the Croatian Sensation by the late Chicago Bulls’ General Manager, Jerry Krause.

There is no doubt that Lonzo Ball has talent. Now if he could top Magic… that remains to be seen. Magic was Magic even before he played an NBA minute. The way fans took to his defense after Delle Donne’s Tweet and for the summer league at Las Vegas has been shocking. No doubt, Laker fans believe in the kid, and even root for the kid.

I caught the recent episode on WWE’s Monday Night Raw where he walked down the ramp along with sons Lonzo and LaMelo and took on the Miz. Post-segment, it had me thinking, LaVar Ball is no different from Paul Heyman when he first introduced Brock Lesnar to a WWE audience.

Heyman labeled Lesnar as “the Next Big Thing” and he was. The swath of destruction he cast on the WWE landscape was so pronounced. Anyone remember the carnage he wrought on Raw on the night of March 18, 2002? Of course, Lesnar went on to bigger fame as a fighter with the UFC (although not with Heyman by his side).

I kinda see the same with the Ball family in the NBA. It is possible that LaVar’s penchant for self-promotion could be whetting up an appetite for destruction. And to quote Jon Polito’s Otis Bigelow in the film, “The Rocketeer” – ‘it’s all part of the show.”

Somehow, I think Ball forgets that the WWE is scripted and well, the Rocketeer is a comic book hero. If Lonzo doesn’t deliver. If he doesn’t win Rookie of the Year as LaVar predicted (now let’s not even look beyond that because we have to wait for how the season plays out), then the air could be sucked out of that ball.

Should that happen, someone will be bawlin’.

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