LaVar Ball has no problems with LeBron James, so he said on Fox Sports Radio on Thursday. The outspoken father of three projected NBA players — UCLA’s Lonzo Ball and high schoolers Liangelo and LaMelo Ball — cleared the air after James publicly responded to recent comments regarding his sons’ futures.
"I've never seen one really live up to what their dad has done, so he could be the first," Ball said of James’ sons. "It's not about me having his kids name in my mouth, I'm not worried about his family. If somebody asks me a question I'll answer it the way I want to answer it. But I have nothing against LeBron or his kids."
Ball made controversial comments about James’ sons, LeBron James Jr. and Bryce Maximus James, on March 10 as a guest on the In the Zone with Chris Broussard podcast when he predicted a tougher road to NBA stardom beneath their father’s shadow. Those remarks prompted a response from James, who sent a message through ESPN’s Dave McMenamin to "keep my kids' name out of your mouth."
LeBron is tired of LaVar Ball's claims: pic.twitter.com/aYIHja3kpv— SB Nation (@SBNation) March 21, 2017
Ball didn’t walk his comments back, but he clarified them with Fox Sports Radio.
"I have no problem with LeBron, they asked me a question about if I thought superstar players' kids were good," Ball said. "My opinion is I've never seen one that's been really good. LeBron is going to make his kids one of the best players ever, according to him.
"People just asking me questions. I’ve been talking all my life. It’s just now the cameras and the things are in front of me. So, I’m just saying, if people ask me something, I’m going to give you an answer, because I can have freedom of speech to say whatever I want."
How the LaVar-LeBron beef started in the first place
The Ball-James beef is unique. Here’s a sure-fire Hall of Famer and MVP candidate blasting the father of kids who haven’t even made the NBA yet, two of which are still in high school.
But it started when LaVar Ball commented about James’ kids and their basketball futures during Broussard’s podcast.
"You got LeBron — it's going to be hard for his kids because they are going to look at them like, 'You got to be just like your dad,'" Ball said. "And after a while, that pressure starts sitting on you like, 'Why do I got to be just like him? What can't I just be me?' And then they are going to be like, 'Aw, you're soft. You're not that good.' Because the expectation is very, very high."
In the same episode, he clarified that NBA stars, including Stephen Curry and Kobe Bryant, thrived because their fathers were just average basketball pros.
James took exception, responding publicly through McMenamin on March 21.
"Keep my kids' name out of your mouth. Keep my family out of your mouth," James said. "This is dad to dad. It's a problem now.
"He can talk all about his brand, talk about his sons, talk about basketball, talk about me. But keep my family out of this."
In his Fox Sports Radio interview on Thursday, Ball responded with general indifference toward James’ threat.
"It’s just like people saying, ‘Keep my family’s mouth’ — whatever they’re saying, I don’t care. They’re not going to stop me from doing what I’m doing," Ball said. "If they take a little edgy edge on it and they get a little touchy because I answered something a certain way, who cares?"
Ball’s comments about James aren’t his only recent outlandish statements.
On his son being better than two-time MVP Stephen Curry: "I have the utmost confidence in what my boy is doing. He’s better than Steph Curry to me. Put Steph Curry on UCLA’s team right now and put my boy on Golden State and watch what happens."
He later doubled down on those claims to TMZ: "He’s going to be better than Steph Curry," Ball said. "Steph Curry’s really good, but my son is young, he’s got time to go. And you only consider him good because he won a couple of championships. What if he didn’t win no championships? He made some shots at the right time. But he’s not as young as my boy."
On guaranteeing his Lonzo wins an NCAA championship: "I’m going to tell you right now before you see it," LaVar said during an ESPN broadcast. "UCLA is going to win the NCAA championship. You think I’m playing? Right here and right now. Guaranteed. Come see me when they win it."
On being able to beat Michael Jordan one-on-one: "Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one,’’ Ball told USA TODAY Sports."I would just back him in and lift him off the ground and call a foul every time he fouls me when I do a jump hook to the right or the left. He cannot stop me one-on-one. He better make every shot ’cause he can’t go around me. He’s not fast enough. And he can only make so many shots outside before I make every bucket under the rim."
On a combined $1 billion shoe deal for the three of his sons: "A billion dollars, it has to be there," Ball told USA Today. "That's our number, a billion, straight out of the gate. And you don't even have to give it to me all up front. Give us $100 mil over 10 years."