Ever since NBA dad Lavar Ball has stepped on the scene, a very polarizing conversation has begun on what being a “good dad” to a professional athlete looks like. While some people revere and celebrate Lavar and his efforts, some find him repulsive and overreaching. In fact, a USA Today sports writer called Lavar the “Worst Sports Dad Ever” in an Oct. 3rd 2017 article, and Sir Charles Barkley echoed the same sentiments in recent interviews. Whether you love or hate Lavar, there is no doubt that the “NBA Dad” has been highlighted in a way that it has never been before.
With that in mind, we thought it was not fair for the nation to make judgments on black fathers of NBA stars based on one man who dominates the spotlight and leads the conversation. During The Right Time Christmas Special with host Bomani Jones we interviewed the fathers of NBA standouts Karl Anthony Towns and Hassan Whiteside, Karl Towns Sr. and Hasson Abubakkr to get a better perspective.
Karl Towns Sr. was excited to speak about his son playing for a second time on Christmas Day, which is the biggest day on the NBA schedule, against the Lakers. This will be the first meeting between the T’ Wolves and the Lakers this season and we can anticipate that all eyes will be on Karl Anthony and Lonzo. When asked if Karl Anthony attended the University of Kentucky to play for Coach John Calipari after playing for him with the Dominican National Basketball Team Towns Sr. had a surprising answer. He said, “Karl Anthony wanted to be a Wild Cat because of the medical program they had and Karl had a desire to study kinesiology.” He also took 50 credits in one semester at school while being a full time student athlete. Karl graduated while in the NBA taking online classes with a 4.2 grade point average. Towns Sr. told us, he is still shocked and pleasantly surprised that his son could juggle so many challenges and succeeds at all of them. Towns, a high school basketball coach, had his son practicing with the JV teams since he was 8 years old day in and day out, to instill discipline and competition. He served as a living example to his son of what hard work, dedication, and time can award you in life.
Hasson Abubakkr was a professional athlete himself, playing in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so he is able to give his son a perspective not many “NBA Dads” can. He can speak to the temptations and pitfalls of Professional athlete life from experience. Bomani asked if they played hoops together in the driveway and Abubakkr said, “No I let him have that. He plays a contact sport, I play the collision sport.” Hasson offered his son encouragement to keep going for his dream which was not a traditional NCAA to NBA path. Whiteside spent years in the Developmental league and overseas before getting his big break with the Miami Heat in 2014. Abubakkr knows a lot about determination and helping your children strive for greatness, not only in sports but in all aspects of life. His youngest son Nassan has autism which is a daily challenge but also inspiring for the entire family. In 2012, Nassan’s Place was incorporated in the state of New Jersey as a non-profit organization to provide affordable care for families with moderate income. They continue to fundraise and advocate for the cause to raise awareness and offer hope.
The stereotype of the Black NBA father seems to be, he is either non-existent or over bearing in his son’s life. We choose to highlight these two men to show that there are other voices – they are just not in the main stream media. We are in no way claiming one parenting style or man is better or worse than the other because to be a father of a professional athlete shows that you have done some incredibly correct things. We just hope this can offer some perspective to the conversation.