The blueprint for future success is straightforward when raising a son who is on the cusp of being selected as an NBA lottery pick: make ubiquitous and incessant claims in the noosphere of the barracuda press corps using a self-aggrandizing rhetoric and forge a reputation of bizarre and borderline pathological behavior matched to the soundtrack of The Shining.
Unfortunately for UCLA Bruin freshman sensation Lonzo Ball, the underground and fleeting 3-hour early morning circus amid the warehouses of Hamburg fueled by the ethereal kaleidoscope of ecstasy, Brahms and vicodin, only to completely dissolve and retract from existence into the new day like antics of his father are overshadowing a brilliant season on the court.
The elder Ball is literally a wild caged animal out of control in consuming heavy doses of self-importance and spewing polarizing sound bytes. Recently, the former basketball player at Washington State University deemed his son a better player than current NBA icon Stephen Curry. In a later interview, Ball claimed vociferously that he could beat Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one, prompting a global counterattack from a large contingency of professional basketball alumni. (Ball was also quoted in demanding that his son would only play for the Los Angeles Lakers, upon gaining draft eligibility.) The angry dad’s bulletin board material has coincided with the successes of Lonzo and younger son Lamelo in reaching the public realm. Despite Ball’s outlandish rants, Lonzo has managed to lead the Bruins to the vortex of the NCAA tournament, and Lamelo articulated one of the most memorable games in high school history in scoring 92 points. While the dime store psychologist will offer the phrase “He is living vicariously through his sons”, the initial and obvious diagnosis offers and incomplete conclusion, as the plight of the elder Ball transcends conventional wisdom. Currently, Ball is under the mass media microscope again for providing pointed and specific parenting advice to the regal Lebron James. Much to the delight of those critical of the NBA star’s almost stoic and industrial approach to handling celebrity and branding, Ball’s comments elicited an impassioned response from the King and briefly gifted the scotch guarded and contrived feel of the league a much needed infusion of humanity.
Ball, who is a personal trainer in Southern California, offers up multiple parallels to Marv Marinovich, one of the most ominous monsters in the history of sporting parents. Marinovich like Ball, was blessed with raising a son proficient at athletics. While the majority of parents in the US embrace and encourage the reasonable development of sporting fitness and skills, Marinovich far surpassed the boundaries of sanity in virtually engineering his son from birth, into a prototypical and highly recruited college quarterback. The philosophical ramifications of the tactics and methods employed in guaranteeing success are as fascinating and thought provoking as sickening.
After the younger Marinovich signed a letter of intent with the coaching staff and Larry Smith at USC, rumors spread around the campus that athlete’s ascension into a division one caliber star was anything but natural. Of course, the impending and harrowing circumstances of plummeting 100 miles from the rare heights of elite status at terminal velocity towards a collision with tragedy is a well-known narrative in the high risk-high reward world of overbearing parenting tactics and prodigies not prepared for the demands of the spotlight. Todd Marinovich’s epic free fall and subsequent obliteration by the forces of reality and performance anxiety are a testament to the precarious constructs of free will and fate.
In an intriguing twist to the constant stream of memorable statements hung carelessly and forever by Ball within the digital cloud, a certain unnamed television network is currently working on the treatment of a new reality concept highlighting terrible sports parents. The show will allegedly star both Ball and Marinovich in managing little league baseball teams with the goal of winning a championship and at least one child being drafted by a professional organization. Negotiations are still pending for the job of hosting the show with one of the parents who recently sent out recruiting paraphernalia of their 2-year-old swimming to various Pac-12 athletic departments.