Plenty of people have had plenty of things to say about basketcopter dad Lavar Ball’s treatment of FS1’s Kristine Leahy during Wednesday’s edition of Colin Cowherd’s show. Here’s what I said on Twitter: All TV and radio stations should ban Lavar Ball, permanently.
Ball crossed the line. He was openly disrespectful to Leahy, with words and gestures that suggested sexism and misogyny.
Lavar Ball’s defense to the suggestion from Leahy of sexism was to say, “I’m married.” Which is a half-step south of saying, “No one respects women more than me” and a half-step north of saying, “My mother was a woman.”
Don’t take my word for it, as if you ever would. The comments are available to be heard. The body language is available to be seen.
It all started when Leahy simply asked how many $495-a-pair Big Baller shoes have been sold. At that point, everything changed — Ball’s tone, his content, everything; Ball did not want to deal with her in any way.
Then, when the focus shifted back to the conversation with Cowherd, Ball’s demeanor shifted back to what it had been, without the animosity. Then, after Ball dismissed the opinions of Jason Whitlock by saying, “I don’t think he can comment on anything but snacks” and Leahy said, “So you disrespect women and people for their weight?,” Ball again flashed hostility toward Leahy.
The mood swung back to respectful until Leahy once again pointed out that Ball doesn’t respect women.
“I don’t respect women but I’m the one that’s married,” Ball scoffed. “She can say what she wants. I never disrespect women. But if you act like that, something’s coming to you.”
I’ve opted to address the issue in this space not because there’s a football connection (there isn’t; does it make it better that I admit it?) but because of a comment made by ESPN’s Jorge Sedano on Twitter in response to my suggestion that Ball should be banned from all radio and TV appearances.
“Interesting that a successful guy who created a few stirs himself back in the day & created something big out of nothing would say this,” Sedano said on Twitter.
It’s one thing to create a stir by expressing opinions others won’t. It’s quite another to create a stir by openly and blatantly disrespecting others, especially when directly interacting with them.
Besides, we still create stirs — largely based on offering fair criticism of the league, its policies and practices. Sometimes, the NFL disagrees with the criticism. Sometimes, the NFL disagrees strongly enough to complain directly to me about it, to those with whom I do business, or both. Through it all, I strive to always interact with the league in a respectful way.
Ball flashed on multiple occasions on Wednesday an unacceptable degree of disrespect in his interactions with Leahy. It got to the point where I was surprised that Cowherd didn’t admonish Ball, kick him off the set on the air, or at least throw to break early and return with Ball out of the building.
Regardless of how Cowherd and FS1 handled it (and chances are that Cowherd and FS1 loved every second of it), the point is that Ball should have no place on any future radio and TV show, based on how he treated Leahy. The point that resulted in this issue landing in this spot is that I strongly disagree with anyone who would compare the creation of a stir through the honest communication of authentic opinion and the creation of a stir by treating another person in an improper, inappropriate, and disrespectful way.