Nobody, not even the Los Angeles Lakers, can act surprised that LaVar Ball told ESPN's Jeff Goodman that head coach Luke Walton has lost the team, all but calling for Walton to be fired amid a nine-game losing streak. Nobody.
The Lakers may have gone into this relationship wearing rose-colored glasses, but their eyes were wide-open. They scouted Lonzo Ball extensively at UCLA. They had the Bruins' coaching staff over to their offices before the draft. They even drove to the Ball house in Chino Hills, California, to look LaVar in the eye and get a sense of who he was beyond the headlines and television interviews.
In that meeting, Ball again told the Lakers what they wanted to hear. But this time, he left himself a very public out, telling ESPN, "I am going to say, to plant a seed, 'Let's look for this now.' They may not want to hear that, but it's going to be successful if you listen to what I'm saying on that fact, that I know what it takes for my son to run like this."
Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka met privately with LaVar Ball on Nov. 29, asking him to tone down his criticisms of Walton or, at the very least, to come to them before teeing off on the second-year coach.
All of those quotes were on the record, which means Johnson and LaVar Ball must both be held accountable for them. Johnson for not calling Ball out publicly once he began to break his promise and for not defending his coach. And Ball for not upholding his word, which puts his son Lonzo in the position of having to choose between defying his father or selling out his coach.
Ball confirmed Johnson's recollection, adding: "As far as training my boy, this is as far as I can take him. I'll leave it up to you to take him further. You can get him better with the film time and the coaching. You can take him to another level. I trust you with my boy."
Ball looked back at them and said he wouldn't upstage the Lakers or their staff if they drafted his son. As Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson told ESPN in July, Ball told him, "Earvin, look, I'm not following my son. I'm not going to be hanging out in L.A."
LaVar Ball's current target is Walton. Next it could be Johnson or Buss or Pelinka or any of Lonzo's teammates. There will always be a microphone or television camera around to capture him saying it, whether it's ESPN or any other media entity.
The story now is how the Lakers react. Appeasement hasn't worked. Neither has deference. Silence only makes his voice louder and helps grow the seeds he's trying to plant.
One Lakers player said the situation has become a distraction for the team at times. But his frustration was directed mostly at the media for fueling the hype around it, and he was annoyed that Walton, whom he strongly supports, had been dragged into the toxicity.
Walton, for his part, has continued to preach to his team that the only opinions that matter are the ones in his locker room, a classic Phil Jackson approach of letting chaos outside the bubble of the team bring the group closer together. Privately, sources close to Walton said he's more annoyed by the distraction than concerned about his job security.
Sunday night, Walton even tried to defuse the situation with a bit of humor. Asked why he substituted Lonzo early in the first quarter, Walton deadpanned, "His dad was talking s---, so I took him out early." Two seconds later he smiled and said, "Just kidding."
But instead of publicly standing behind their coach, or at least admonishing Ball privately, the organization has stuck with a policy of not giving him any oxygen. It was a nice way of handling it. A classy way of letting him promote his business, Big Baller Brand, without standing in his way.
但是，湖人并没有公开支持他们的教练，或者至少是在私下劝诫他们，而是坚持一个政策，不给他任何炒作的元素。这是一种很好的处理方法。这是一种优雅的方式，不妨碍他，可以让他推广自己的生意、Big Baller 品牌。
It was also a bit naive in this era of instant hot takes, cable news and social media.
Those quotes were all on the record, too. That should have been enough for the Lakers to know that Ball would never stop his criticism of Walton or anyone who doesn't bend to his will.