For Pete's Sake

Steve Kerr laments coverage of LaVar Ball, the ‘Kardashian of the NBA’

LaVar Ball.
LaVar Ball. The Associated Press

LaVar Ball continues to make headlines, much to the chagrin of basketball fans like ESPN’s Dick Vitale.

On Sunday, Vitale made it clear again that he doesn’t understand the attention given to LaVar Ball, the shoe salesman and father of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball. In fact, Vitale blasted ESPN for traveling to Lithuania to cover Lonzo’s younger brothers, who are playing their professionally, and for writing about LaVar’s criticsim about the Lakers coaches.

On Monday night, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr also questioned ESPN’s decision to follow LaVar Ball.

Connor Letourneau, who covers the Warriors for the San Francisco Chronicle, shared Kerr’s thoughts on LaVar Ball and ESPN on Twitter.

Kerr had a lot to say about Ball and sports coverage in general.

“This is the world we live in now,” Kerr said. “I was thinking about ESPN, and they laid off, I don’t know, 100 people. How many people did they lay off over the last year? Well over 100, many of whom were really talented journalists covering the NBA. So, this is not an ESPN judgment, it’s a societal thing more than anything. Where we’re going is we’re going away from covering the game, and we’re going toward just sensationalized news. It’s not even news, really. It’s just complete nonsense. But if you package that irrational nonsense with glitter and some ribbon, people are going to watch. So, I talked to people in the media this year. I said, ‘Why do you guys have to cover that guy?’ And they say, ‘Well, we don’t want to, but our bosses tell us we have to because of the ratings, because of the readership.’ Somewhere, I guess in Lithuania, LaVar Ball is laughing. People are eating out of his hands for no apparent reason, other than he’s become the Kardashian of the NBA or something. That sells, and that’s what is true in politics, entertainment and now sports. It doesn’t matter if there’s any substance involved in an issue. It’s just ‘Can we make it really interesting for no apparent reason?’ There’s nothing interesting about that story. Do you know how many parents of my players have probably been at home like, ‘Man, he should be playing my kid.’ And yet, we’re sticking a microphone in his face because, apparently, it gets ratings. I don’t know who cares, but people care. Or else ESPN wouldn’t be spending what they’re spending to send reporters to Lithuania, when they laid off people who were writing really substantial pieces. People like Ethan Strauss and Marc Stein are getting laid off. This is not a condemnation of ESPN. It’s not. It’s a societal issue. It’s been going on for many, many years, and it’s really, I think, invading the sports world now.”

Here is the tweet from Letourneau:

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff