Steve Alford is joining the growing list of key UCLA figures that say LaVar Ball wasn’t a problem with at the school. The UCLA head coach says he “never” dealt with any issues with the Big Baller Brand founder while Lonzo Ball was at the program.
Alford joined The Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday and echoed something his son and Lonzo’s teammate Bryce Alford said a day earlier: LaVar Ball never created problems at UCLA.
“LaVar’s never been a distraction to us. I think that was established in the recruiting process and that’s all part of it. We do the coaching and you’ve got to trust us that we’re gonna do what’s best for your son. So LaVar was great. Never got a phone call. Never was at practice. Was never a distraction to us at all. We would see him every now and then on TV saying something, and I can remember Lonzo and others just laughing at comments and they’d go about doing their job.”
Alford openly worried that the reputation LaVar Ball has earned in recent months will be transferred to Lonzo as he enters the NBA. If that happens, it will be in spite of all the raving the Alfords have done about Lonzo’s play on the court.
“Lonzo is just a terrific player. He’s a very special talent and can beat you in a lot of ways. Can beat you on the backboard. He can beat you defensively. I swear there was a game against Riverside this year where he showed up and he wasn’t going to take a shot. He was just going to get 20 assist and he nearly did both of those things. So he’s just a very, very special talent. But the thing I’ll appreciate most is the way he went about his job with his teammates.”
The praise is very similar to what Lakers coach Luke Walton said about Lonzo in an interview earlier this month, and what Alford’s own son Bryce has said. It was also in that interview where he said the Lakers and other teams would ask UCLA what kind of influence LaVar had on how things went there last season. Unless that private conversation is different than what we’ve heard here, we already have our answer.