As superstar freshman Lonzo Ball leads UCLA into a Sweet 16 matchup against Kentucky this Friday, his dad LaVar continues to play the part of the embarrassing parent. Now, LaVar’s found himself in a war of words with LeBron James after James took exception to a statement he made about why Lonzo has a greater chance of succeeding in the NBA than James’ 2 sons, 12-year-old Lebron James Jr. and 9-year-old Bryce.
LaVar’s big mouth is nothing new. Lonzo’s impressive play has been one of the top stories of March Madness, but LaVar seems determined to make his own headlines by starting beef with literally anyone he can. He’s already publicly feuded with Charles Barkley (possibly the first time Barkley has been in a fight he didn’t start), criticized his son’s high school coach for a loss, declared his son will “only play for the Lakers,” and even stated that in his prime he would’ve “killed” Michael Jordan one-on-one. The guy just likes to talk.
The inciting incident with LeBron came during LaVar’s appearance on Chris Broussard’s “In the Zone” podcast. There he stated “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.’ 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.”
LeBron made it very clear he did not appreciate LaVar bringing up his sons.
“Keep my kids’ name out of your mouth,” LeBron said in a comment to ESPN. “Keep my family out of your mouth. This is dad to dad. It’s a problem now.”
Despite constant criticism, LeBron rarely speaks out against his detractors — typically choosing to let his play speak for him (and hey, it speaks loudly). But by responding to Ball’s statements about his kids, he proved he’s not against going full Papa Bear-mode.
“He can talk all about his brand, talk about his sons, talk about basketball, talk about me, but keep my family out of this,” LeBron warned.
Most dads understand where LeBron is coming from. While it’s highly unlikely that your parenting experience involves being one of the greatest athletes of all time, you know that there is no limit to what you will do to defend your kids from unwarranted attacks. And no matter how you feel about LeBron as a player, it’s hard to disagree with his desire to have a former college benchwarmer shut the hell up about his young sons.
LeBron has worked hard to prevent his sons from standing in his considerable shadow. When asked about his son “Bronny’s” chances of making it in the NBA, LeBron has stated, “He has a chance. That’s all you can ask for.”
When recently asked about Lonzo, LeBron made no mention of LaVar. Instead, he told ESPN, “I actually like [Lonzo]. I like his game.”
Where will this feud go next? Only time will tell. But while you wait for Papa Bear LeBron’s next emergence, enjoy watching his 12-year-old son dominate the court.