‘Gateway to Gastonia’? SNL sketch on LaMelo Ball, dad LaVar pokes fun at Charlotte

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Matthew Stephens, Bailey Aldridge
·3 min read
Kenan Thompson as LaVar Ball, left, said on Saturday Night Live that LaMelo Ball, right, has NBA Rookie of the Year and MVP locked up. He also gave Charlotte a couple of new nicknames.
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“Saturday Night Live” writers did enough research for their latest Weekend Update segment to make Charlotteans cringe.

During a sketch on SNL’s weekly news desk, LaVar Ball (played by Kenan Thompson) showed up to brag about his son LaMelo Ball and how well he’s playing for “the most storied franchise in all of basketball, the Charlotte Hornets!”

That’s when LaVar goes on to give Charlotte two new nicknames, one of which the chamber of commerce may want to ignore:

  • “Charlotte, North Carolina: The regional banking capital of the world” (or did he say “bacon”?) and

  • “Gateway to Gastonia.”

Ouch.

He joked about how the city has “no mountains” and “no oceans” but plenty of humidity.

Brooklyn Decker, a model and Matthews native, tweeted about the skit, calling it the most “the most painfully accurate thing I’ve seen in a while.”

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And others on Twitter agreed about the accuracy of at least one joke: the humidity.

“We can all agree about the humidity,” one user tweeted.

“The part about the humidity is spot on,” another wrote.

As much as the new nicknames may sting, SNL directed the biggest spotlight on Charlotte and the Hornets in 3 minutes, 43 seconds than most national media have in a long time.

When asked by Weekend Update co-anchor Michael Che whether he thought LaMelo would win Rookie of the Year, Thompson’s LaVar responded “he’s got all the awards locked up.

“Rookie of the Year, locked up. MVP, locked up. Prettiest hog at the Mecklenburg County fair, locked up,” he said.

After LaMelo wins MVP, his caricatured father says, he’s going to unite North Carolina and South Carolina to create a super Carolina called “Carolosus, monster of the South,” who may or may not be appearing in the upcoming Warner Bros. film Godzilla vs. Kong.

LaMelo Ball loves his dad, but make no mistake: New Hornets guard isn’t a LaVar clone

Hornets rookie Ball, drafted No. 3 overall last November, is the NBA front-runner for rookie of the year, averaging 15 points, 6.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists entering Sunday’s 10 p.m. game at Sacramento. He also became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double Jan. 9 vs. Atlanta.

He was also named the NBA’s Eastern Conference rookie of the month in February.

LaVar Ball has been known for making bold claims, including saying his son Lonzo was better than Steph Curry before he even played in the NBA and saying he could’ve taken now-Hornets owner Michael Jordan “in one-on-one.”

He’s also no stranger to Charlotte. In 1995, he had a two-month stint as a tight end on the Carolina Panthers’ practice squad.

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