Facebook is venturing into the world of original programming, and it clearly wants to announce its arrival with a loud, bloviating bang. Why else would it be partnering up with the loudest man in sports — LaVar Ball? Facebook and Ball will team up to create a yet-to-be-titled docuseries (which we’ll just call The LaVar Show for now) focusing on LaVar and his three sons: Lonzo, LiAngelo, and LaMelo.
Lonzo was recently made the no. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the LA Lakers. LiAngelo will be starting his college career at UCLA next season. While the youngest, LaMelo, is the one of the most talked about high-school prospects in the country and a legit top-ten recruit in the class of 2019.
No matter how you feel about the patriarch of the Ball family, you can’t deny his unrivaled ability to grab the limelight and hang onto it. His boasts seem to get more outlandish with each passing day. He’s claimed that he could have beaten Michael Jordan one-on-one in his prime. He’s declared that his eldest son, Lonzo Ball, is better than two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry. And he’s said that clothing companies like Nike and Reebok will have to pay a billion dollars to sign his sons to a marketing contract.
Much like our venerable President, most of the nation disagrees with what he says. But everyone’s still listening.
The Balls are already the Kardashians of the sporting world, so it’s fitting that they’re about to get their own show. Will the Balls become the next big reality TV family or just another flash in the pan? Let’s start with the odds for the new show, and then get into something a little more sporty.
There are a lot of storylines to cover. Lonzo is going pro with the most storied franchise in the NBA and expectations are enormous. The fate of the family rests on his ability to bring the Lakers back to glory — or at least respectability. Middle-child LiAngelo starts at UCLA, but LaVar is openly doubtful about his ability to make it to the NBA, so it will be interesting to see how that affects the family dynamic. And high schooler LaMelo is a promising young player with huge shoes to fill.
It’s a recipe for drama, and LaVar and his family will find a way to make a meal of it.
Facebook is a newcomer to the original-content game. Nothing is guaranteed. The show could tank and be canceled before the end of the first season. Or it could go the way of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which is 13 seasons deep with countless spin-offs.
It may seem like the cross-section of people who are interested in both sports and reality TV is pretty small, but LaVar Ball isn’t just sports. First and foremost, he’s a massive personality who makes ridiculous claims. He was born for reality TV. Viewers won’t necessarily agree with what he has to say, and they may not even particularly like him, but they’ll tune in anyway, just like they’ve done with countless other reality stars. Drama sells and the networks know it.
This year the NCAA Tournament generated an average viewership of 9.3 million, a 24-year high. March Madness went on to break an all-time record, hitting 69.1 million. If the Balls can capture even a tiny fraction of that market, they’ll have an extremely successful show on their hands.
So far, Facebook has only ordered two shows — the The LaVar Show and Returning the Favor, featuring television host Mike Rowe.
If that’s all Facebook has in in the works, then the Ball family have nothing to worry about. But this is just the start of bigger things to come, Facebook hopes. The Balls are in the spotlight right now, but who knows how long it’ll last.
Keeping Up With The Kardashians hit a season-premiere low of just 1.48 million viewers, but that’s probably still more than the Balls can hope to pull in. Lower on the reality-TV food chain, there are a few shows the basketball family could “keep up” with.
Teen Mom and Dance Moms are probably within reach. Dance Moms is hitting an average of around one million per episode, and Teen Moms is pushing just north of that in its sixth season.
The Real Housewives franchise is desperately searching for new ideas, expanding to new continents like Australia and Asia. The Real Housewives of Sydney pulled in a measly high of 106,000 and their newest installation, The Real Housewives of Bangkok, will probably do even worse.
It has become quite evident that LaVar Ball knows the secret to grabbing the world’s attention: make outlandish statements. Try to tell me you wouldn’t at least be interested in who won, if you knew LaVar was playing someone 1-on-1.
The problem is, outside of his sons (who I’m sure don’t have much of a choice), does anyone else have any interest in playing him? If there’s anyone who could be persuaded, it’s the head coach of the UCLA basketball team, Steve Alford. He sure wouldn’t want to lose the commitment of LaMelo in 2019.
Of all Lonzo’s Laker teammates, Lopez has one of the bigger personalities. I’m sure LaVar was disappointed the Lakers let Swaggy P to walk in free agency, considering his love for being on camera …
The biggest baller can’t have his reputation tarnished. For entertainment value, you know it’ll at least be close, with LaVar hitting a clutch game-winner right in his opponent’s face.
First, let’s rule out the players LaVar has trashed on television — LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Michael Jordan. There’s no way they’ll do anything to help elevate the man who became famous by making ridiculous remarks at their expense.
Lakers President Magic Johnson could make an appearance. With Lonzo on the team, their paths are bound to cross. Whether Johnson will allow the cameras to be switched on remains to be seen, but more exposure for Lonzo is good for business.
As for former Laker and reality star Lamar Odom, who has made several appearances on Keeping Up with the Kardashians alongside his wife Khloe, we could be in for a good, old fashioned crossover episode.
Stephen A Smith, who is pretty much LaVar Ball in a suit, has clashed with LaVar in the past. They’re both loud, obnoxious television personalities, and they both know that saying ridiculous things gets views. Put them together and they make for instant entertainment … or something so insufferable it makes you yearn for the days of Bridalplasty and Temptation Island.
LaVar, Lonzo, and LaMelo made a guest appearance at Monday Night Raw, where LaVar trashed The Miz while promoting his Big Baller Brand products. It was mildly entertaining, pretty bizarre, and, at times, extremely awkward.
LaVar’s personality is a great fit for pro wrestling, though. Another appearance to promote the new show makes a lot of sense.
Say what you will about LaVar Ball, but you can’t deny his marketing prowess. He uses any and every opportunity available to promote his ridiculously-priced products, which includes a pair of $700 shoes.
All of LaVar’s kicking and screaming can make it easy to forget that this is a family replete with insane basketball talent. His hype train is running on legitimate tracks. As mentioned, Lonzo was drafted second overall by the Lakers this year and will soon be the face of the storied franchise. Will he take the Lakers back to glory? Will his brothers follow in his footsteps?
LiAngelo is about to enter his freshman year at UCLA, but no one is expecting him to enjoy the type of success Lonzo did. I wouldn’t blame LiAngelo for crying the disgruntled middle-child effect here. He’s a three-star recruit, and will be lucky to even start as a Bruin.
Hope lies with the baby of the bunch, LaMelo. He’s a five-star recruit and ESPN has him ranked eighth in the 2019 class. Lonzo has set the bar real high for his little bros, but LaMelo has a great shot to follow him into the NBA. While the rankings can and will change before Lonzo’s draft year comes up, most top-ten recruits make an appearance in the association, at the very least.
It’s pretty reasonable to assume the only way Lonzo leaves LA is if Magic Johnson decides to trade him. I’m not sure he’d ever be ready to face LaVar’s subsequent wrath.
There is a chance the Lakers could wind up with both Paul George and LeBron James in 2018 free agency. If so, I’ll be taking the under. Even if they only land one of the two, Golden State could lose Kevin Durant in the next two offseasons, and Chris Paul becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2018.
Unless Magic sacrifices Lonzo to obtain someone like Chris Paul, the oldest Ball brother should be distributing the rock for the Lakers for quite some time. We saw Lonzo’s affect on the players around him at UCLA; imagine what he could do for Paul George.
Featured photo: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire.
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