LaVar Ball‘s feud with Luke Walton went to a new level early on Sunday morning. The noted sports dad spoke with ESPN’s Jeff Goodman while overseas in Lithuania about the Los Angeles Lakers’ head coach and made a rather damning allegation regarding Walton’s ability to exert control over his own team.
According to Ball — whose youngest son, Lonzo, is the Lakers’ starting point guard — Walton no longer possesses the ability to control his team, and his players no longer want to play for him anymore. Currently, the Lakers sit at 11-27, the worst mark in the Western Conference and the second-worst record in the NBA.
Ball believes the issue is that Walton is “too young” and is unable to connect with his players, basing this statement on everyone’s body language.
“You can see they’re not playing for Luke no more,” Ball said from a spa resort in Birstonas, where he is staying while his two youngest sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, get ready to make their professional debuts with Lithuanian team Prienu Vytautas. “Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him.”
“That’s a good team,” he added of the Lakers, who have lost nine straight games. “Nobody wants to play for him. I can see it. No high-fives when they come out of the game. People don’t know why they’re in the game. He’s too young. He’s too young. … He ain’t connecting with them anymore. You can look at every player, he’s not connecting with not one player.”
Obviously saying that a head coach, one with whom you’ve tried to publicly feud in the past, has gotten to this point is an incredibly serious allegation, even if Ball’s past comments make it seem like he’s just trying his hardest to get Walton fired at this point. Additionally, Ball discussed the future of the Lakers and how he thinks there’s no way Walton can lead the team in the event a superstar like LeBron James or Paul George joins the franchise this offseason.
“Even if you bring in a LeBron or a [Paul] George, he can’t coach them guys,” Ball told ESPN. “What is he gonna tell them? He’s too young. He has no control.”
Walton has always shrugged off criticisms from Ball when they’ve become public like this, but publicly calling for someone’s job is a big deal. Two things are certain, though: The meeting with the Lakers’ brass where they asked Ball to cool it with the public criticisms of Walton did not work, and the next time Lonzo meets with the media, things are going to get awkward in a hurry.