The National Basketball Association (NBA) boasts countless athletes that are not only athletic and imposing, with players averaging 6 feet 7 inches, but the league also boasts players who are exceptionally skilled due to years of hard work and grit. While genetics may be the primary reason for the athleticism and size of these basketball standouts, parenting plays a major role in the work ethic and mindset of the athletes as they develop.
LaVar Ball is an outspoken parent of three West Coast prospects. His oldest, Lonzo Ball, is a projected high lottery pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, and Ball has brought to light a debate regarding parenting styles and the effects that they have on their athlete children’s futures.
Lavar Ball’s approach to parenting has taken the form of a cheerleader, including talking about his children as if they are gods of basketball. Ball has been most quoted saying, “I have the utmost confidence in what my boy is doing. He’s better than [Golden State Warriors point guard] Steph Curry to me. Put Steph Curry on [University of California, Los Angeles’s] team right now and put my boy on Golden State and watch what happens.”
This parenting strategy of projecting outlandish future achievements onto their children is not a new phenomenon in the world of sports. The approach worked for Earl Woods and his son Tiger. After several years of lofty projections from Earl Woods, Tiger Woods lived up to nearly all of the hype, becoming one of the most successful golfers of all time. However, this strategy is clearly not foolproof — quarterback Todd Marinovich, whose father Marv Marinovich employed similar parenting strategies, fell far short of his father’s public expectations of becoming a Hall of Fame football player.
Ball has notably proclaimed that his children are set up better for future success than the children of professional athletes.
“The monsters in the NBA, their dads [weren’t] that good,” said Ball on a podcast with Fox Sports. “They were okay, they [were] players, but the fact the old [Stephen] Curry wasn’t [an] All-Star, he wasn’t cold. He could shoot the ball, though. Kobe Bryant, his dad wasn’t all that, that’s why he’s such a monster.”
These comments shed light on a parenting style that directly contradicts Lavar Ball’s. NBA superstar Lebron James’s children already have high expectations from basketball fans’ despite only being 9 and 12 years old. Instead of taking on the role of an ego booster, James has chosen to serve as a role model never having any trouble with the law, on-court performance through unprecedented work ethic, political activism and charity work.
While a star basketball player is the result of both nature and nurture, the nurture aspect can take several different forms. With immense excitement surrounding players like Lebron Jr., Lonzo Ball and Lamelo Ball the effectiveness of different parenting styles will certainly be on display for the years to come.