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ESPN Should Stop Putting LaVar Ball on TV

As you’ve no doubt seen by now, LaVar Ball made an inappropriate comment to Molly Qerim on First Take yesterday. After she asked him if they could switch gears, Ball responded, “You can switch gears with me any time.”

ESPN released a statement on Monday saying, “LaVar Ball’s comment to Molly Qerim Rose was completely inappropriate and we made him aware of that.”

They should stop putting him on television.

Ball’s explanation, which his spokesperson Denise White gave to TMZ, defies credulity. “[LaVar] was asked if he wanted to switch gears, in his mind switching gears was ‘changing the subject anytime’ and he said, ‘yes, you can switch gears with me anytime.’ At NO time was that intended or meant to be sexual in nature,” she said. Taken in combination with the Kristine Leahy segment a couple years ago, does anyone really believe this?

An apology would be uncharacteristic and asking for one would be akin to asking a freezer to say sorry for being cold, and it may have just dug the hole deeper for him, but one was warranted.

I’ll admit that this is an about-face for me. I’ve previously thought that Ball was newsworthy, that his bombastic shtick was funny, and that the interest level in putting him on justified the idea of turning over one’s platform and let him shill his Big Baller Brand wares. Nevertheless, the bit has worn thin, and he’s a liability with a microphone in his hands.

I don’t think FS1 should continue to have Ball on either, but they are in a different position than ESPN in that they’re still somewhat of a new network fighting to gain awareness and interest. I do understand that there is some interest amongst swaths of the audience — especially young people — to see how he will react to his son Lonzo getting traded to the Pelicans. However, if networks must have him on, he has on multiple occasions now proven to be untrustworthy with a live microphone and his segments should be taped and edited down to just to the essentials.

This might sound a little hypocritical on my part as a blogger who will still weigh putting LaVar Ball’s name in headlines going forward, thus giving relevance to both him and the platform he appears on, but he quite frankly does not deserve to be given the type of power that going on ESPN provides.