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LaVar Ball stirs controversy with Walton comments

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By Agence France-Presse

Flamboyant basketball dad LaVar Ball’s claim that Luke Walton, coach of the struggling Los Angeles Lakers, has lost the confidence of his players created a stir across the NBA on Sunday.

Ball, father of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, made the comments to ESPN from Lithuania, where younger sons LiAngelo and LaMelo have signed to play with Vytautas in the small southern town of Prienai.

Lonzo Ball was asked Sunday at the Lakers’ shootaround if he likes playing for Walton.

“I’ll play for anybody,” Ball answered, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“My job is to play basketball,” he said. “I don’t decide who coaches.”

There was no immediate comment on the affair from Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, but Walton said he had spoken to club executives.

“I feel very secure in my job status right now,” Walton said. “We talk all the time. They’re 100 percent behind and supporting what we’re doing.”

The Lakers went into Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks on a nine-game losing streak.

The young team’s struggles has prompted plenty of comment from the outspoken LaVar Ball, who has criticized Walton’s handling of his son.

Walton said the comments didn’t concern him, as long as they didn’t adversely affect his player.

But LaVar Ball’s latest remarks caught the eye of Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, the head of the NBA Coaches Association who scolded ESPN for giving Ball a platform.

Carlisle called the ESPN article “a disgrace.”

“Luke Walton is a terrific young coach bringing along a young team,” Carlisle said, adding that ESPN, which he characterized as a television partner of the league, “should back up the coaches.”

Carlisle said that didn’t mean the sports media behemoth should run news based on what coaches will like.

“I’m saying they should look at their sources and do a better job of determining if their sources have any merit or any validity or are they just blow-hard loud mouths,” he said. (AFP)