Over the past few days, the somewhat-manufactured LaVar Ball-Luke Walton controversy has blown up, with other NBA coaches (including Rick Carlisle and Stan Van Gundy) threatening to cut off ESPN access if they continue to feature the elder Ball in interviews. Even Dick Vitale has spoken out in favor of less LaVar.
Steve Kerr was asked his thoughts Monday night, and as has become the norm, he offered an eloquent statement on the matter. Kerr focused on society’s gradual movement towards less substantive news, working in ESPN’s spate of layoffs while also stressing he wasn’t blaming ESPN’s coverage.
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) January 9, 2018
Here’s the transcript:
Steve Kerr had some strong words pregame about ESPN's coverage of LaVar Ball: pic.twitter.com/jzMiaqa5we
— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) January 9, 2018
This is a much more reasonable reaction than those from Carlisle and Van Gundy, who were essentially expecting ESPN to back NBA coaches, which is certainly not the network’s role, even as an NBA broadcast partner. Kerr managed a few subtle digs at ESPN, couched with valid criticism of modern media and its attempt to go after clicks or ratings or video plays at the expense of quality.
At the same time, he notes, that’s where the interest is; expecting media companies to not cover things that draw interest is not going to happen any time soon; instead, it’s probably best to hope that coverage subsidizes the more important things news organizations do, whether or not they always have a big audience. Kerr also seems to “get” what LaVar is going for, without endorsing it; Carlisle and Van Gundy come across as marks, whether or not that’s fair.
Kerr is talking about weighty issues, and as usual, speaking with authority and competence, but these things aren’t going to be fixed overnight, even if we somehow banned LaVar Ball from appearing online or on television ever again.
(That’s not to say it wouldn’t be worth trying.)