The week that was: Why the Lakers need Lavar Ball

The Lakers need Lavar Ball on that wall.


Follow Jim on Twitter @mediarodriguez

The more I see and hear LaVar Ball preach the gospel of Big Baller Brand, the more I wonder how many parts of this is clever showman or unhinged fool. 

I’m rooting for Ball. All of them. I really am. 

I remember Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena. The brash, in your face tennis coach from the inner city that boldly claimed two black girls from Compton, California would rule the tennis world. He was right. Damn right.

I also remember Marv Marinovich. His son, Todd, was literally trained to be the perfect quarterback. But this regimented lifestyle led to Todd’s downfall. A dark place of drugs, assaults and arrests.

LaVar’s actions have definitely given us some pause. 

  • Telling a female reporter to “stay in her lane”.  
  • Brushing off his son’s international shoplifting charges.  
  • A verbal tit for tat with the President of the United States. Think about that. 

Ball pulled his kid out of high school because of a coach that wouldn’t accommodate his game and now jousting with the employer of his oldest son. 

The Lakers knew this was coming. LaVar would not be silenced.  

The team tried to tell us that they had an understanding with the Biggest of the Ballers. LaVar would keep his criticisms about the coach, system, organization to a dull roar. Run it by the team first.. sure. Not so much. 

LaVar says Laker players don’t want to play for head coach, Luke Walton. He insists that Luke has lost the team. Here.. we.. go. 

Some will tell you LaVar needs to let the Lakers run their own organization. I’m here to tell you it’s the other way around. The Lakers need LaVar. Yeah. They do.

Think about it.  

The Purple and Gold are in rebuilding mode. They’ve lost 27 of their first 40 games this season and aren’t going anywhere. Hard to imagine one of the jewel franchises of the NBA rendered irrelevant.  

But LaVar has made them matter. 

When you watch a Laker game, why are you watching? When you check the box scores your eyes immediately go to find Lonzo’s stat line. That’s because LaVar made it happen. 

This isn’t the golden era of Laker basketball but in some perverse way.. LaVar is building a bridge. He’s softening the blow. Getting the franchise through the lean years. And make no mistake.. the good times will include Lonzo Ball. Shoot, his brothers might even be on the court with him when they win another title. 

What will the future hold for Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo? So far it’s been Lakers, Los Angeles, Louis Vuitton and Lithuania. Hopefully there is some Love too. 

Now if we can only get LaVar to return a phone call and get to the post office. People are waiting for those shoes, Big Baller. 

You can listen to my radio show, The Sports Bosses , weekdays at 9 a.m. CT on SBNation Radio.

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Houston is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.

Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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