LaVar Ball, the outspoken father of UCLA freshman sensation Lonzo Ball, was a guest of the Arizona Wildcats hoops pregame show on KCUB 1290-AM this afternoon and he did not hold back from the start.
Host Mike Luke started the interview asking the elder Ball if he knew from the start that his sons (including , LiAngelo and LaMelo) would be destined to be really good basketball players.
“Yes, I planned all this from Day One, me and my wife,” Ball said.
That set the tone for what turned out to be a lengthy informational interview session of the audacious Ball with the KCUB panel of Luke, former Arizona football and basketball player Kelvin Eafon and AllSportsTucson.com writer Anthony Gimino.
LAVAR BALL INTERVIEW PART ONE
LAVAR BALL INTERVIEW PART TWO
In the first recording, Ball talks about UCLA’s need to speed the game up tonight against Arizona and play zone “a little bit” to force the Wildcats to shoot over the Bruins.
“I don’t think Arizona is the best shooting team out there,” he said.
He later said nobody in the country compares to the skill set of Lonzo, and he responded to his previous claim that his son is better than two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.
“I have my opinion of my son and I watch people play,” LaVar said. “I said he’s better than Steph Curry … to me! That don’t have to be for everybody else. But to me I think my son is better than Steph Curry and I don’t care what nobody says. I’m saying he’s taller, faster, stronger …
“Put him in the right situation. Steph Curry shoots the ball. Lonzo shoots the ball. He dribbles the ball. Lonzo dribbles the ball. Like I said, he’s going to have problems if he tries to go against my son one-on-one, but it’s a team game. I don’t know why everybody gets mad for. What I’m not going to say is Lonzo is pretty good but he’s no Steph Curry. Stop it. Steph Curry is pretty good but he’s no Lonzo Ball.”
Ball also claims his son is a program-changer and insisted that if Lonzo and Washington’s potential No. 1 draft pick Markelle Fultz changed teams, “UCLA will be right back where they were, 15-17 (last season), and Washington would be at the top. You’ll have all those athletes and Lonzo would make those athletes run for Washington.”
The elder Ball played against Arizona in its first Final Four season of 1987-88 when he played at Washington State. He said he was a 6’6″ and 270 forward back then and drew the assignment of guarding Anthony Cook and Sean Elliott.
He transferred to Cal State Los Angeles after his freshman year because he said Kelvin Sampson’s offensive style was too slow.
About playing at McKale Center in 1988, in a game Arizona won 79-41, Ball said the experience included “excitement … there was a bunch of people in there. Arizona is good with all those fans. It’s a good atmosphere to play in.” He played nine minutes and scored four points while shooting 1 of 5 from the field.
When Luke asked Ball if Arizona was a school that he would consider sending his kids, Ball said, “No … it’s too far from L.A. … We’ve got a big family. Here’s the thing, if Lonzo was playing open run he can always call his brothers down there and say, ‘Yo, come on down here and play with us at UCLA.’ You see what I’m saying? And hey, being at UCLA, the Lakers and Clippers can come right down the freeway and look at my boy every day.”
In one part of the interview that was not recorded, the elder Ball said he wants his son to play with the Lakers, who are coached by former Arizona standout Luke Walton.
Lavar Ball: "My son will only play for the Lakers."
— Michael Luke (@ironmikeluke) February 25, 2017
LaVar Ball is not too fond of Pac-12 Networks analyst Kevin O’Neill, a former Arizona assistant and interim head coach. O’Neill mentioned to the KCUB crew Friday that Lonzo Ball’s weakness is his mid-range jumper.
“I would say, Kevin O’Neill, his analysis, I don’t like at all on the fact that he’s one of those guys who analyzes people who never played the game,” Ball said. “Nobody ever picked him up, I guarantee you. I’m not going to take nothing he that says (seriously), just like a grain of salt. I don’t think he has enough knowledge to be out there.”
O’Neill actually lettered in basketball for three years at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, from 1976–79.
His prediction of UCLA vs. Arizona?
“Like I said, my boy don’t lose to people two times in a row,” Ball said. “He’s got to figure it out. Everybody says it’s hard to play up there at Arizona? Now, my boy is going to change the news on you. He’s going to get this one.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.