If Mike Bryant isn’t considered the prototypical sports father, he probably should be. His dedication to helping his son, Kris Bryant, develop into the reigning National League MVP on the field, and a respected member of every community he belongs to off the field, are matched by few and topped by none.
He’s a voice of reason and source of knowledge. Most importantly, he’s done it all without having to feed his own ego or direct any of the spotlight on himself.
A lot of the same could be said about LaVar Ball, the father of UCLA standout and future NBA lottery pick Lonzo Ball. The dedication and support measure up, but his seemingly unquenchable thirst to make headlines and share the spotlight with his son are in stark contrast to Mr. Bryant’s. In fact, it’s to the point now where even Mike Bryant felt the need to weigh in with some very wise and important advice for Mr. Ball.
“The guy is going to ruin it for his kids,” Kris Bryant’s dad, Mike, said on ESPN 1000 in Chicago on Tuesday. “I mean that in a sympathetic/empathetic way. Let his kids go out there and play and let the rest happen. But to compare him to Michael Jordan and better than Steph Curry, c’mon, that’s disrespecting those guys. If I had five minutes with him and I could get him to listen for two of them I think I could get him to think a little bit.”
Ball’s boastful rants and overbearing antics have rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Perhaps most notably, he’s engaged in some very public and at times personal verbal sparring battles with basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley. It could be argued though that neither man has come out of those exchanges looking any better than the other, and it’s really only served as fuel to keep LaVar Ball going down an ill-advised path.
That’s where Mike Bryant’s approach and demeanor differ, and it makes his message stronger. He wants to keep the focus where it belongs, which is on the kids. There was already enough pressure on Kris Bryant to live up to without Mike Bryant adding to it. Just the same, there’s already enough pressure on Lonzo Ball to fulfill the potential that could make him a next-level superstar in the NBA.
Now that pressure has been multiplied over and over again, and for the sake of what? A father’s ego?
Every parent has quirks that make them different, and most of the time that’s a good thing. To judge others for those quirks or differences in personality is difficult, but when it becomes more about themselves than the good of the kids, it has to be reined in. That’s where Mike Bryant is clearly on the money. If LaVar Ball doesn’t heed that advice soon, this will continue building and serve as a larger detriment to his son.
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