As they say, it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye, or in the case of Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, loses a sense of where the boundaries are. So far, the pair of second-year Lakers have yukked it up for months while taking playful public shots at each other, but in the wake of a diss track recorded by Ball that got into a potentially sensitive area, their team has reportedly asked the pair of fast friends to take things down a notch.
By recording the track, Ball brought their back-and-forth to a whole new level, one that has usually connoted nothing but bad blood in the hip-hop world, with the Drake-Pusha T feud a particularly glaring recent example. In Ball’s song, titled “Kylie Kuzma,” last year’s second overall draft pick hurls insults at the No. 27 selection, but what got the most attention was his reference to the fact that Kuzma has said he never met his biological father.
“Don’t know who your daddy is,” Ball rapped, “well your a– is getting sonned.”
According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Ohm Youngmisuk, the Lakers, who “had grown concerned about the increasingly personal nature of some of the recent roasting between two of their young stars,” decided it was time to sit them down for a little talk. Both players were said to have “agreed to tone down the joking insults on social media,” with “no lingering issues.”
Presumably, that means we won’t see Kuzma return fire in the form of his own diss track, at least not one released for public consumption. That would be a disappointment for, among others, Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz’s rookie of the year candidate who had urged Kuzma to “respond.”
However, Kuzma had already gone a long way toward raising the stakes in a video he made last month with Bleacher Report. Using a Dave Chappelle sketch as inspiration, Kuzma raked Ball over the coals, including the line, “Lonzo’s face looks like a deep-dish pepperoni pizza.” (Warning: profanity.)
“Kyle Kuzma came out talking crazy, and you think my son will sit back and let him say all this stupid stuff, and you don’t think he’ll come back?” LaVar Ball, who may have taught his son a thing or two about talking trash, said Tuesday to FS1’s Colin Cowherd. “It’s not even about a diss track, it’s about saying, ‘Hey, you never should have said nothing in the first place.’ ”
As Cowherd pointed out, though, the issue for the Lakers could well be that the team is trying to lure the biggest possible free agent this summer, LeBron James. Assuming the 33-year-old superstar leaves the Cavaliers, he will want to join a team ready to contend for an NBA title right away, and the high jinks between Ball and Kuzma, which have also roped in young teammates Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram, could leave James with the impression that the Lakers have a lot of maturing left to do.
“When the back-and-forth between you and Kuz gets a little personal and a little much, you’re not just on an [Instagram] story. These are actual diss tracks, with real production values, that you’re spending time and energy on,” Shelburne said on a recent ESPN podcast. “It just doesn’t look all that professional. And it certainly doesn’t look all that serious for a young team that’s trying to position itself as a team that wants to win right now.”
“I know that the Lakers certainly want to let their guys have fun. They don’t mind, on a certain level,” Shelburne added. “But the latest stuff, I’ve definitely gotten some text messages back-and-forth in L.A., from people within and outside the organization doing a double take.”
Also weighing in was Kuzma’s mother, Karri Kuzma, who sent this terse message Wednesday via Twitter: “Everyone’s had their fun now get back to work.”
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