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LaVar Ball blames Lonzo, LaMelo Ball’s injuries on ‘raggedy shoes’ and ‘roody-poo workouts’ in the NBA

Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/TNS

CHICAGO — Lonzo Ball’s future is as uncertain as ever for the Chicago Bulls. But in an interview with CBS Sports this week, his father LaVar Ball mixed optimism and blame in equal force as he predicted a full comeback for both his NBA-playing sons at the end of another frustrating season for the family.

Injuries have defined the Ball family in the years since their controversial, headline-drawing ascent as high school standouts in Chino Hills, Calif. Lonzo, 26, and his brother LaMelo, 22, are sidelined with season-ending injuries. LaMelo was shut down by the Charlotte Hornets last week. Lonzo has not played basketball since January 2022. Brother LiAngelo Ball, 25, previously played in the G League but has been hampered by ankle injuries and left his Mexican pro team last month after just two games.

LaVar has often drawn criticism for his sons’ injuries, with fans noting his hefty training regimens — and the faulty Big Baller Brand shoes, which often blew out mid-game — as potential sources for the brothers’ ongoing ailments. But in LaVar’s eyes, there are other sources of blame for these injuries.

“The reason they hurt is because they got away from me,” LaVar told CBS Sports. “And they start doing these roody-poo workouts. Because if you keep running them hills, you’re going to keep that power and that strength. But you start dealing with these rubber bands and doing this lightweight stuff, of course you’re going to start breaking down.”

LaVar doubled down, blaming LaMelo’s recent streak of ankle injuries on his “raggedy shoes” in reference to the Puma brand shoes his son has preferred in the NBA.

Despite these complaints, LaVar insisted Lonzo would be back in action for the Bulls next season.

It’s a hopeful prognosis for a player attempting to accomplish a medical comeback that no other NBA player has successfully completed. Knee cartilage transplants are typically career-ending. Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog is attempting the same feat in the NHL, but his recovery has been similarly marred by setbacks and uncertainty.

If Ball can complete a full recovery, it would be an immediate balm to a Bulls team that never fully bounced back from his injury more than two years ago. Even with the success of converting Coby White into the starting point guard position, the Bulls played their best ball with Ball on the court — something his father never failed to miss.

“What Lonzo does (is) he makes everybody better around him,” LaVar said. “He’s been like that all his life. So when people used to be like, ‘Oh, he’s going to the Bulls and he’s the fourth option,’ and this and that, that doesn’t go into his head. He made Zach LaVine better. He made DeMar DeRozan better. (Nikola) Vučević. Everybody. And now they see when you take him out of the puzzle, look what happens.”

The Bulls still have at least six months to wait before Lonzo Ball’s recovery can be defined as successful or unsuccessful. That waiting period will be painful — and will likely determine the course of the next three years for the team.