Immediately after the NBA Draft lottery, LaVar Ball — the father of UCLA standout point guard Lonzo Ball — basically told the Boston Celtics, owners of the top overall pick, not to even bother looking in his son’s direction.
LaVar announced to whoever would listen that he was not going to work out for, or even talk to the Celtics. He wanted, and still wants, Lonzo to be selected with the No. 2 overall pick by the Lakers so the family can stay in Southern California and be a part of the franchise they grew up watching.
Many came after LaVar, saying that he was foolish to freeze out the Celtics and that he was ruining Lonzo’s career by speaking for him. But, as it turns out, a father meddling in his son’s draft day affairs is nothing new. It tends to happen more in the NFL, but it also happened for one of the game’s most beloved stars: Stephen Curry.
In a Sports Illustrated story, former Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn recounts how Curry’s father, former NBA guard Dell Curry, essentially told Kahn and the Wolves not to draft his son. Kahn wrote:
And, in a much lesser known incident, it happened to me. In 2009, just days after my May 22 hiring as President of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the agent for Steph Curry told me that Steph’s father, Dell, did not want his son to be drafted by Minnesota — “No offense,” as I recall Jeff Austin, his agent saying to me at the Chicago draft combine.
Jeff Austin, who I’d known casually, had represented Dell Curry when he was a player. He had been handed Steph due to his connection to Dell and told me this was a family request. “I really need your help on this,” Jeff said, explaining why there would be no visit and perhaps even hell-to-pay. (As it turned out, this was the only time when I was with the Wolves that I ever ran into this type of draft problem.)
“The Knicks had eight and we thought in New York he’d be a great fit. We really wanted him to drop to eight,” Austin said. “Once we got to seventh, we were like, ‘C’mon man, don’t pick him with [Golden State].’ At the time, the Warriors were not in our mind as a preferred destination.”
Fortunately for Steph and the Bay Area, Golden State picked him anyway and he’s helped create one of the most promising young dynasties the NBA has seen. Meanwhile Minnesota and New York have continued to flounder.