Dallas Mavericks coach and National Basketball Coaches Association President Rick Carlisle on Monday continued his criticism of ESPN — and specifically reporter Jeff Goodman — following the publication of a story in which LaVar Ball ripped Lakers coach Luke Walton.
On Sunday, Goodman wrote a story from Lithuania in which Ball, father of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball and the most controversial dad in sports, said Walton has lost the team.
“You can see they’re not playing for Luke no more,” Ball said. “Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him. … That’s a good team. Nobody wants to play for him. I can see it. No high-fives when they come out of the game. People don’t know why they’re in the game. He’s too young. He’s too young. … He ain’t connecting with them anymore. You can look at every player, he’s not connecting with not one player.”
Later Sunday, before the Mavericks’ 100-96 loss at home to the New York Knicks, Carlisle laid into ESPN in his pregame news conference.
“As president of the coaches association, I view the recent ESPN article as a disgrace, quite honestly. Luke Walton is a terrific young coach who is bringing along a young team, and it’s a difficult task. If you don’t believe it, just ask me. We’re going through that now and went through that last year,” Carlisle said.
“Printing an article where the father of an NBA player has an opinion that is printed as anything like legitimate erodes trust,'” Carlisle added. “It erodes the trust that we’ve built with ESPN, and our coaches are upset because Luke Walton does not deserve that.”
The NBCA released a statement Monday in the name of Carlisle and NBCA executive director David S. Fogel that pointed out the fact that coaches grant ESPN unique access based on the partnership between the association and the network. They then accused ESPN of lacking the fairness, objectivity and respect that the partnership requires.
“Yesterday’s article by Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com regarding Luke Walton was a salacious one-sided story lacking journalistic integrity,” the statement read. “The article attacked Coach Walton on the basis of one person’s unsubstantiated opinion. The story failed to provide quotes or perspectives from any players, or from Lakers management, either named or unnamed, verifying the claims made in the story. The article lacks any of the basic fundamental benchmarks and standards of reliable journalism. It is reprehensible and insulting both to our Coaches and to the standards of ESPN.”
The statement concluded:
“It is regrettable and troubling that ESPN was willing to provide a megaphone for a player’s parent anytime he wishes to share his personal opinion. While the Coaches Association does not believe NBA Coaches should be immune from criticism, the NBCA demands that ESPN, and our other network partners, work harder to ensure a more objective and balanced account in their coverage.”
Los Angeles sits at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, tied with the Memphis Grizzlies at 12-27. The Lakers ended a nine-game losing streak Sunday night with a 132-113 victory against Atlanta.
Walton, 37, is in his second season in charge of the Lakers, his first head-coaching job after two seasons as an assistant with Golden State. Los Angeles was 26-56 in his first season, and drafted Ball second overall out of UCLA last June.
LaVar Ball is in Lithuania with his other sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, who are playing professionally.
LiAngelo was a freshman at UCLA this season but left the school following his detainment in China on shoplifting charges in November. LaMelo, 16, was set to be a high school junior but LaVar pulled him out of school, saying he did not like Chino Hills High’s new basketball coach.
–Field Level Media