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LaVar Ball can’t stop giving people reasons to wish he’d just go away and stop appearing on television. Or on the internet. Or out in public. Or ... you get the picture.
Ball went on ESPN’s “First Take” on Monday morning to talk about the inclusion of his son, Lonzo Ball, in the trade package for Anthony Davis. And while he was in the process of loudly talking over every single question that was asked of him, he couldn’t stop himself from making host Molly Qerim extremely uncomfortable.
As Ball was blathering, Qerim interjected to try and get the segment to look more like an interview and less like the ramblings of an increasingly delusional basketball dad. She said, “LaVar, can I switch gears with you because I have a question here.”
Ball’s response? “You can switch gears with me anytime.”
That comment is so unnecessarily gross that you almost need a shower after hearing it.
When Qerim processed his comment, her eyes went wide, giving a look that could only mean “did this man really just say that to me live on the air?” She recovered masterfully, telling Ball to “stay focused.” Stephen A. Smith wasn’t impressed either, but not surprisingly, Ball didn’t seem to realize that his comment was a shockingly inappropriate thing to say to someone during a live interview that’s ostensibly about basketball.
Qerim didn’t mention that moment for the rest of the broadcast, but did appear to refer to it at the very end of the show.
“If anyone’s calling HR today, it’s me.”
You know what? She should. And Jemele Hill agreed, complimenting Qerim for her graceful handling of that truly dumb situation.
It’s not clear if ESPN learned any lesson from this incident, but the network did strongly condemn Ball’s comment. Here’s what an ESPN spokesperson said about the incident, via Larry Brown Sports.
“LaVar Ball’s comment to Molly Qerim Rose was completely inappropriate and we made him aware of that.”
Ball’s representative Denise White released a statement on behalf of Ball. Via TMZ:
"[LaVar] was asked if he wanted to switch gears, in his mind switching gears was 'changing the subject anytime' and he said, 'yes, you can switch gears with me anytime.' At NO time was that intended or meant to be sexual in nature."
Ball can say what he wants about how he intended that comment, but his tone and demeanor when he said that to Qerim are in conflict with his explanation — as is his decision not to immediately clarify himself when his comments were clearly taken as being sexual in nature. And in the statement, he (or White) didn’t even bother to apologize for (perhaps unintentionally) making Qerim uncomfortable. But taking responsibility for things he did wrong is not Ball’s brand.
Everyone else knows how to behave when they’re interviewed on TV, even on a show with Stephen A. Smith. Molly Qerim is a professional and deserves to be treated that way. Why should LaVar Ball get to play by different rules? Why should he be allowed to make an inappropriate comment and get asked back again and again? What value is he adding to, well, literally anything?
Nothing. He adds nothing. The NBA doesn’t need him. The entire sport of basketball doesn’t need him. All sports everywhere for all times in the past and future don’t need him. Go away, LaVar Ball.
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