Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Reimer: Rooting for LaVar Ball's kids to fail is wrong. But it feels so right.

Alex Reimer
November 08, 2017 - 12:17 pm

LaVar Ball maintained his annoying veneer of braggadocio even in the immediate aftermath of his son’s shoplifting arrest in an authoritarian state. That is why, no matter how unfair it is to the children, it is fun to relish in Big Baller Brand’s failure.

LiAngelo Ball, the middle Ball brother who Daddy Ball once said wouldn’t make it to the NBA, was arrested in Hangzhou, China Tuesday along with two other UCLA basketball players for allegedly shoplifting. The three freshmen –– Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill –– were questioned about reportedly swiping sunglasses at the Louis Vutton store connected to their hotel. The Bruins are leaving for Shanghai Wednesday to play Georgia Tech Friday. 

All three players were released from custody around 4:00 a.m. Wednesday and must stay behind in the hotel until the legal process is complete. They could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted, which is likely, considering Chinese prosecutors enjoy a 99.2 percent conviction rate

That all sounds pretty serious, but the Big Baller Brand must roll on. There are $500 shoes to sell and a Facebook reality show to push. In fact, the family is getting filmed in China for it. 

LaVar Ball can’t afford to shed his cartoonish buffoonery. So, as a result, he’s dismissing the charges. "I'm going to wait until I get some more intel on what's going on, and then I can tell you what's up,” he told reporters as he was leaving the hotel Wednesday, after he had cancelled a press conference that was slated to be held in his hotel suite. "He'll be fine. He'll be fine. Everybody making it a big deal. It ain't that big of a deal.”

It was the response of a showman, not a father, which speaks to the way Ball has exploited his children to achieve his own fame. It’s apparent all of Ball’s trash talking hasn’t helped his oldest son, Lonzo, get acclimated to the NBA. Lonzo Ball is one of only two starters in the league this season shooting less than 30 percent from the field. He seems to be rudderless, shooting the ball twice in one game and then going 3-for-15 the following night. 

As Clippers guard Patrick Beverley showed last month in Ball’s debut, there are veterans who are coming for him. His Lakers teammates say Ball is nothing like his father, but that doesn't matter to the competition. When they see Lonzo Ball on the court, they see an opportunity to shut Big Baller Brand up. 

Perhaps Ball would’ve struggled during his rookie season, anyway. But his dad’s antagonism surely isn’t making things easier

College freshmen own responsibility for their actions, but if somebody is wondering where LiAngelo Ball acquired the gumption to possibly steal from a luxury store in China, look no further than his carnival barking father. It doesn’t seem like humility was taught in the Ball household.

A number of publications, ranging from GQ to SB Nation, have lauded Ball for the seeming devotion he shows to his children. But it’s now apparent all of the boastful cheerleading only serves one member of the Ball family: the man in the household with the biggest mouth and least amount of talent.  

Children shouldn’t pay for the sins of their parents. But LaVar Ball has linked himself to his three sons. When they go down, he goes down, and gets rendered increasingly irrelevant. 

It’s so enjoyable to root for that, no matter how morally backwards it might be. 

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