LaVar Ball’s statements and antics over this past year always seemed better suited a professional wrestling ring.
It was only natural that the patriarch of the Ball family — and the head of the Big Baller Brand — made an appearance on WWE’s Monday Night Raw at the Staples Center for an awkwardly entertaining segment with WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz.
With sons, Lonzo — in his first appearance in the Staples Center as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers — and LaMelo looking on, LaVar was the center of attention. When The Miz mentioned something about a partnership between the two, the scripted interview went south. It resulted in LaVar saying nonsensical things like, “There’s only two dudes better than me, and I’m both of ’em!” before later taking off his shirt. When Dean Ambrose, a WWE superstar feuding with The Miz came out on to the ramp, LaVar didn’t quite grasp the concept that that was his cue to stop talking.
This segment was somehow entertaining and cringeworthy at the same time.
Now that Lonzo is beginning his NBA career, maybe it’s time LaVar try something different. A manager in the WWE may just be his true calling. He’s certainly had plenty of practice.
Larry Brown hasn’t coached in the NBA since 2010, but that hasn’t stopped his name from being thrown around as a potential candidate for vacancies.
The Los Angeles Lakers have talked about the possibility of contacting the Hall of Fame coach, according to a report filed earlier this week by Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com.
The Lakers, sources add, have also internally discussed reaching out to Scott Skiles and former NBA championship-winning coach Larry Brown, who has spent the past two seasons in the college game at SMU.
At this point, his name is merely being tossed around along with others. The Lakers are in a wide-ranging coaching search, having interviewed or discussed the position with six former NBA coaches so far. In 2004, Brown, who is now 73, became the first coach to win an NBA and NCAA title when his Detroit Pistons knocked off the Lakers in the Finals.
Brown, the basketball coaching nomad, made his return to the college ranks in 2012 when he revived the SMU program. In only his second season, Brown almost got the Mustangs back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1993. However, a weak strength of schedule left them on the cutting room floor on Selection Sunday.
The Ponies have the bulk of their roster returning, including leading scorer Nic Moore and top rebounder Markus Kennedy, in addition to the arrival of Emmanuel Mudiay, the No. 2 overall recruit in the Class of 2014, according to Rivals. SMU is arguably a top-10 team heading into the 2014-2015 season.
Mike D’Antoni resigned as the Lakers’ coach in late April. He was linked to the opening at his alma mater, Marshall. His brother, Dan D’Antoni, was hired by the Thundering Herd on April 24.
There’s a negative side to having a coach put together a successful season: all of a sudden he becomes a targeted acquisition.
This isn’t a problem if you’re Kansas or Duke or North Carolina. It’s not an issue if the coach in question is a Lute Olson or a Jim Calhoun, legends that are inseparable from their program.
It does, however, become a bit of a nuisance for guys like Kevin Ollie and Fred Hoiberg. Both are former NBA players that have long been considered to be future coaches at the highest level. Hoiberg turned Iowa State into a Big 12 contender in four years, which was enough to get him named as a favorite for a job — Golden State — that hadn’t even come open yet. That was the second time that his name had been bandied about as a potential replacement at the NBA level.
For Ollie, it was only a natural thought that he would be interested in replacing Mike D’Antoni with the Lakers. He’s a UConn alum, but he’s also a native of Southern California that grew up at a time when Showtime was at its peak. That’s what it wasn’t a surprise when FOX Sports’ Bill Reiter tweeted out that Ollie ‘plans to visit‘ with the Lakers in the coming weeks about potentially moving back west. Reiter also said that Ollie is planning on staying at UConn, but that he ‘wants to listen’ and ‘have a conversation’ about the opening.
Ollie denied the report on twitter on Tuesday afternoon, and he may be telling the truth.
But he’s also in the middle of trying to leverage a surprising run to the 2014 national title into a bigger contract with the school.
And what better way is there to gain leverage in contract negotiations than to say, ‘hey, the Lakers are courting me.’ After all, Mike D’Antoni was making $4 million-a-year.
The Los Angeles Lakers have already reportedly shown interest in Kentucky head coach John Calipari and UConn head coach Kevin Ollie since former head coach Mike D’Antoni resigned following the end of the season, but could the Lakers also be looking at another former NCAA championship coach?
According to a report from Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers are also interested in speaking with North Carolina head coach Roy Williams about their vacant head coaching position.
Bresnahan reports that the Lakers are currently interested in George Karl, Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis, Jeff Van Gundy, Calipari, Ollie and Williams and that Los Angeles won’t hire a new coach before the May 20th NBA Draft Lottery.
The 63-year-old Williams was previously approached by the Lakers in 2004 — after Phil Jackson’s first stint with the team — but the Tar Heels head coach had only spent one season as the head coach at his alma mater and turned down the opportunity to jump to the NBA.
Since then, Williams has won two national championships at North Carolina in 2005 and 2009 and also was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007. Williams owns a 724-190 career record during his 26-year college coaching career that includes stops at Kansas and North Carolina.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is a North Carolina graduate, so Williams will likely speak with him either way, but it’s really hard to imagine him jumping to the NBA for the first time at this point in his career.
Hours before John Calipari led his Kentucky Wildcats into the 2014 National Title game a rumor surfaced via former UK star Rex Chapman, that would cause chaos in the coaching carousel.
Win or lose, Calipari would leave Lexington for Los Angeles and accept the Lakers head coaching job, according to Chapman.
Moments after a heartbreaking 60-54 loss to UConn, Calipari commented on any speculations that he will head back to the NBA.
“The Lakers have a basketball coach,” Calipari said courtesy of Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated. “Kentucky has a basketball coach. I have the best job in the country.”
In five seasons at Kentucky, Calipari has amassed a 152-37 record with three Final Four appearances and a National Title in 2012. The Lakers are 25-52 this season. While the current Kentucky coach is being linked to the Lakers’ job, the current Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni has reportedly been approached by a college program.
Wisconsin picked up a fifth verbal commitment in its 2013 class on Sunday night, as 6-7 forward Nigel Hayes (Toledo, OH/Whitmer HS) has decided to play for Bo Ryan.
The news was first reported by Reggie Rankin of ESPN.com, and Hayes picked the Badgers over Ohio State and Stanford.
Hayes joins a class headlined by point guard Bronson Koenig, and with three of Wisconsin’s five seniors being starters this is an important recruiting class for the program.
Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans are all entering their final year of eligibility, and the hope is that the 2013 class will help fill in some of those gaps.
Joining Hayes and Koenig are forwards Vitto Brown and Riley Dearring and guard Jordan Hill.
Wisconsin worked hard to land Hayes and the effort paid off, capping what’s been a good day for the Badger program.
The Badgers won their 11th consecutive season opener on Sunday, as Berggren scored a team-high 19 points and Ben Brust posted a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds) in the 84-47 win over Southeastern Louisiana.
Also of note in the victory was the return of Bruesewitz, who was expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks due to a gruesome cut he suffered in a weight room accident last month.
Bruesewitz played 13 minutes on Sunday, scoring ten points and grabbing three rebounds.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.