Fairfax (Los Angeles) boys basketball coach Steve Baik, who coached Chino Hills, (Calif.), to an unbeaten season and a Super 25 title last year, said that LaVar Ball hasn’t changed. The perception about him has.
Ball is the father of UCLA player Lonzo Ball and Chino Hills players LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball. All three were members of last season’s title team.
“I know he’s loud and appears arrogant and this and that, and I’m not make any excuses for some of his comments, but a lot of people take these snippets and portray what they want,” Baik told USA TODAY Sports. “The whole LeBron comment, about his kid, I don’t think that was a criticism of LeBron’s kid. That was maybe just an example. Steph Curry is the only example I can think of where a son is better than his dad in the NBA.
“What LaVar said, there is some truth to that and I don’t think it was a direct insult to LeBron and that’s what people are putting it out to be. People are putting the mic in LaVar’s face and asking specific questions. LaVar hasn’t changed. The only difference is he’s been given a platform.”
Baik said he was surprised at what seems to be a rift between Ball and current Chino Hills coach Stephan Gilling. Gilling was promoted to head coach when Baik left.
After Chino Hills’ season ended with a loss to Bishop Montgomery in the CIF Southern Regional semifinals, LaVar went on ESPN LA’s Morning Show with Keyshawn, Jorge and LZ and said, “That coach is hard-headed. He wanted to do things his way.”
“I was surprised at the outcome of the season with the way things ended,” Baik said. “Stephan was a guy who was close to the Ball family as well as me and it was a strategic hire. Both sides (Gilling and Ball) knew what they were getting into.
“Stephan knew the difficulty of that job. I don’t know what took place, other than losing some big games. There has to be something to blame. I don’t think it was Steph’s fault. He’s done a phenomenal job, I thought, of keeping his head up and handling the pressure. He had a great year, going 30-3. The three losses were to big-time programs and they had a chance to win all three. I don’t know what it is going to be like going forward. It is a difficult thing and expectations are high.”