Steve Kerr took the high road Monday in response to criticism from LaVar Ball, who earlier compared the Warriors coach to lip-syncing pop duo Milli Vanilli. Ball claimed that Kerr was trying to “take all the credit” for a dynastic Golden State team that the outspoken patriarch said was “put together” by Kerr’s predecessor, Mark Jackson.
“Anybody can be a coach. … Look at Steve Kerr: He’s the Milli Vanilli of coaching,” Ball told Lithuanian basketball writer Jonas Miklovas earlier in the day. Ball, the father of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, has been in Lithuania with his two younger sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, as they begin play with a professional team in that country.
On Sunday, Ball was allowed to act as head coach for an exhibition game featuring his sons’ team, which won handily while playing a notably up-tempo, volume-shooting style. Flush with that success, Ball crowed about how “easy for me” coaching was before offering extensive comments to Miklovas in which he also compared 19-year-old LiAngelo and 16-year-old LaMelo to Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson.
“You can go stand in the same spot, like Luke Walton did, and win 20-something games when you got the right horses just running,” Ball told Miklovas, referring to the former Warriors assistant coach who temporarily took over for an ailing Kerr and enjoyed great success before moving on to become head coach of the Lakers. Ball has repeatedly criticized Walton this season, at one point causing Kerr to refer to the basketball parent as “the Kardashian of the NBA” and someone who lacks “substance.”
“Not talking about that,” Kerr said Monday, when apprised of Ball’s most recent comments. “Basketball — we’re talking about basketball.”
“Sometimes, less coaching is the best coaching, but some of these guys like to act like they’re really coaching some guys that know how to play,” Ball had said of Kerr. “How do you coach KD [Kevin Durant], Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson? You know how you coach them? You don’t. Turn your back and let them do what they do.
“As soon as they win the championship, everybody say, ‘Oh, he’s a great coach.’ That team was put together by Mark Jackson. And now, he jumps up and try to take all the credit. That’s why I call him the Milli Vanilli of coaching.”
When Miklovas pointed out that Michael Jordan never won big before getting coached by Phil Jackson, Ball asserted that Jackson’s approach was to “sit back and look relaxed the whole time, and call it the ‘Zen Master.’ ” He added, “What coach Phil did: Back up. Michael Jordan’s the superstar, and you can’t coach him. Pat Riley? Back up, let Magic [Johnson] do what he do. He’s a champion. How do you coach these guys? You don’t. They something special. You let them do what they do.”
“Melo is in that same book. Gelo is in that same book,” Ball continued, referring to his sons, who he pulled out of high school and UCLA, respectively, to have them pursue their basketball careers in Europe. “They’re something special. So I just back up, tell them to go get the victory and come on back home. And the majority of the time, it happens like that. They always get wins.”
Kerr wasn’t the only member of the Warriors who chose to hold his tongue in response to Ball’s comments. However, veteran forward David West let his facial expressions communicate plenty about what he thought, in addition to telling reporters, “I don’t waste my brain matter on stuff like that.”
While Ball was claiming Kerr took too much credit for the Warriors’ success, he was not beyond identifying the reason the Lakers have won eight of their past 11 games: himself. That streak did commence just after Ball was quoted by ESPN as blasting Walton for having lost “control of the team” and not “connecting” with any of the Lakers, and he said that his well-calibrated criticism provided the perfect motivation for the young squad to “band together.”
“So now you not even worried about the Lakers no more, you’re just worried about me talking about Luke,” Ball said. “Now, what’s going to happen when I say you lost the team — everybody going to jump on board, because they lost the team, or everybody going to band together? They ain’t start winning until I made that comment.”
In contrast to Kerr and West, one Golden State player not only commented on Ball Monday, but offered words of praise. “LaVar is smart, marketing-wise,” Andre Iguodala said (via the San Francisco Chronicle). “See, because we keep talking about him. I like LaVar. That’s my man.”
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