OAKLAND — Steve Kerr isn’t happy with the current state of media and you need not look further than ESPN’s treatment of LaVar Ball as an example why.
Here’s the video:
Kerr calls LaVar Ball the Kardashian of the NBA, goes on epic rant pic.twitter.com/4NN7ylIAQ0
— Karl Buscheck (@KarlBuscheck) January 9, 2018
His full answer:
This is the world we live in now. I was thinking about ESPN, they laid off — I don’t know, 100 people? How many people did they lay off in the last year? Many of whom were really talented journalists covering the NBA.
This is not an ESPN judgment, it’s a societal thing more than anything. Where we’re going is we’re going away from covering the game and we’re getting closer to sensationalized news. It’s not even news, really, it’s complete nonsense. But if you package that irrational nonsense with some glitter and some ribbon, people are going to watch.
I’ve talked to people in the media this year, I said, ‘why do you guys have to cover that guy?’ They say, ‘we don’t want to. Nobody wants to. But our bosses tell us we have to because of the ratings, because of the readership.
Somewhere, I guess this is Lithuania, LaVar Ball is laughing at all of us. People are eating out of his hands for no apparent reason, other than he’s become the Kardashian of the NBA or something and that sells. And that’s true in politics and entertainment and now in sports. It doesn’t matter if there’s any substance involved with an issue, it’s just can we make it really interesting — for no apparent reason.
There’s nothing interesting about that story. You know how many parents of my players who are probably at home going, ‘why isn’t he playing my kid?’ And yet we’re sticking a microphone in front of his face because apparently it gets ratings. I don’t know who cares, but people care. They must care or else ESPN wouldn’t be spending whatever they’re spending to send reporters to Lithuania while they’re laying off people who are writing really substantial — people like Ethan Strauss and Marc Stein are getting laid off — again, this is not a condemnation of ESPN. It’s not. It’s a societal issue. It’s been going on for many, many years and I feel it’s invading the sports world.
Some context: ESPN published a post on Sunday that featured an interview with LaVar Ball, father of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball.
In that exchange, LaVar said that former Golden State Warriors assistant and current Lakers head man Luke Walton “doesn’t have control of the team no more.”
Later on Sunday, Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle ripped the story, saying it was a “disgrace.”
“ESPN is an NBA partner, and they’ve been a great one,” Carlisle told reporters. “But part of that partnership is that the coaches do a lot of things to help them with access, interviews and all those kinds of things. And in exchange for that, they should back up the coaches.
“Printing an article where the father of an NBA player has an opinion, that’s printed as anything like legitimate, erodes trust. It erodes the trust that we’ve built with ESPN, and our coaches are upset because Luke Walton does not deserve that. Two years ago, he took a veteran team and led them to 24 wins in a row, which is an amazing accomplishment. And off of that, he earned the Laker job. To have to deal with these kinds of ignorant distractions is deplorable.”
Kerr didn’t take issue with ESPN undermining coaches, but he was disgusted by the notion that a parent would be given a platform to complain when that isn’t a typical function of the pro game.
“I feel horrible for Luke. That’s my guy, he’s one of my best friends,” Kerr said Monday. “He shouldn’t have to deal with this. But, to me, one of the things about the NBA: it’s always been a haven from parents. The guys who coach high school, that’s who really has to deal with parents. I’ve never had to talk to a parent who’s upset about playing time. I’m sure there are plenty out there, but they don’t have a voice in the NBA. But for whatever reason, we’re giving this guy a voice and Luke has to deal with it. It’s a shame.”
For Waltons’ part, he’s taken the unfortunate development in stride. He told reporters on Sunday that as long as he and Lonzo have a good relationship, he doesn’t care about outside noise.
And since he’s a Kerr disciple, Walton has employed humor when addressing the situation. He removed Lonzo from Sunday’s game in the first quarter, leading to questions about the decision.
“His dad was talking shit, so I took him out early,” Walton said before softening the blow. “Just kidding.”
(In reality, Lonzo asked to be taken out because he was tired.)
“[Walton’s] handling it great, he’s doing all he can,” Kerr said. “It’s just part of his gig, unfortunately.”