Charles Barkley continued his feud with LaVar Ball on Wednesday, but in an intriguing twist, he’s proposing some action to go with their war of words. The TNT analyst and former NBA star suggested that he play a game of one-on-one with the father of UCLA’s Lonzo Ball and two highly touted high school players.
Speaking on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” show, Barkley referred to Ball’s recent comment that back in his “heyday,” he “would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one.” That prompted some to note that Ball played one season of Division I college basketball, when he averaged 2.2 points for Washington State in 1988-89, before transferring to Division II Cal State-Los Angeles.
Previously, Barkley had labeled as “stupidity” Ball’s boast that his son Lonzo would be better than Steph Curry. That had Ball firing back, saying, “If Charles thought like me, maybe he’d win a championship.” Barkley responded to that jab thusly: “I don’t know what his basketball career was, but I’d put mine up against his.”
On Wednesday, Barkley said of Ball (via ESPN), “Once I found out he averaged two points a game … listen, you need to slow your roll. He says I didn’t win a championship. I said to myself, ‘I need to go back and Google this guy, because maybe I missed the Ball era, when he was dominating and winning championships everywhere else.’
“Listen, I’m too old and fat to play basketball, but I’ll challenge Mr. Ball to a one-on-one. How about that? I don’t even know how old he is — he’s got to be around my age — but no guy who averaged two points a game can beat me at one-on-one. I’m positive of that.”
Not surprisingly, Ball saw fit to offer a rejoinder, telling ESPN’s Cari Champion that “Charles wants some press.” Some observers could have found that comment noteworthy, given that Ball has been widely criticized for gaining attention at the potential cost of putting unnecessary pressure on his kids to fulfill his very public predictions of greatness, but the 49-year-old pressed on.
“He wants to play one-and-one and all this, and he says I averaged two points — who cares?” Ball said of Barkley. “I know he don’t want to play one-on-one because he’s too big. He’d better stay behind at TNT and eat them doughnuts.”
“He’s not my favorite player now. Not because I don’t like him. It’s because my boys are my favorite players now,” Ball added. “He’ll be all right, though. … I’ll send him some Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and he’ll be my friend again.”
Continuing his tour of ESPN programs Tuesday, Ball took on Marcellus Wiley of “SportsNation” in one-on-one. Ball won, albeit against a former NFL, not NBA, player and using what appeared to be an eight-foot rim.
LaVar Ball just beat Marcellus Wiley in a one-on-one, 3-1, and I am in tears. pic.twitter.com/J8X1g4RfsT
— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) March 15, 2017
Elsewhere, Ball cracked yet more doughnut jokes at Barkley’s expense. “That boy is out of shape — if I played him now, it’d kill him,” he said (via TMZ Sports). “He’s too big. Just enjoy talking and eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts, he’ll be fine. … If we played right now, he wouldn’t score a bucket. He’s too slow, he can’t walk — I mean, what’s he going to do?”
“As you get older, you get delusional,” Ball added. “Thinking he could be beat me now, he’s gotta be crazy.”
Ball also provided an update on the attempted burglary of his house Tuesday evening, while he was out watching his two younger sons play. “Everybody’s fine, all they did was crack a window,” he said.
It remains to be seen if Barkley and Ball actually get a game of one-one-one going, but we can already announce a big winner here: Krispy Kreme, which is getting all sorts of free advertising. Barkley is also doing Ball a huge favor by bringing his far greater fame to their feud, but it’s worth noting that his TNT show is in constant need of wacky bits, and it would not be a shock to see the two square off on that set.
In the meantime, we’ll get to see Lonzo Ball try to lead his third-seeded team through the NCAA tournament, starting with a matchup Friday against Kent State. LaVar Ball recently offered an interesting spin on his own relative lack of basketball success, saying that it allowed him to spend more time with his sons and mold their games.
“Here’s the thing, you gotta play the odds and the percentages,” Ball told Chris Broussard of Fox Sports (via 247 Sports). “There’s been a lot of great players, and all of their sons are wack. … Kareem’s got sons, Jordan’s got sons, Shaq’s got sons.”
“You’ve got LeBron, it’s gonna be so hard for his kids, cause [people are] going to look at them like, ‘You gotta be just like your dad.’ And after a while that pressure starts sitting on you, like, ‘Why do I gotta be like him, why can’t I just be me?’ And then they’re gonna be like, ‘Aww, you’re soft, you’re not that good.’ Because the expectation is very, very high.”
“My sons are good, they’re great,” Ball added. “But let’s say I really excelled in football and made millions of millions of dollars. Do I spent that time with them now? No, I have to worry about the offseason, and I just buy you a trainer and hope that you turn out okay. Whereas the fact that I wasn’t all that, allows me to take the time to make my boys all that.”
So if you’re counting at home, that’s one feud with Barkley, one quasi-feud with Jordan and what appears to be a clear attempt to get the attention of LeBron James, not to mention Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Barkley’s fellow TNT analyst, Shaquille O’Neal. That’s quite a starting five — how about a game against Ball, his three sons and, just to fill out that roster with another Barkley antagonist, Draymond Green?