LaMelo Ball and Zion Williamson Played in What Might Go Down as the Craziest AAU Game Ever

Earlier this month, Lonzo Ball put on a show while playing for the Lakers in the Las Vegas Summer League. After struggling to find his shooting touch in his first game with the team, he recorded a triple-double in his second game and then absolutely exploded during his third game by going off for 36 points, 8 rebounds, 11 assists, 5 steals, and 2 blocks. He put together several other impressive performances before being sidelined with a leg injury, but that injury didn’t prevent him from being named the Las Vegas Summer League MVP.

Despite all of that, though, you can now make the argument that LaMelo Ball, not Lonzo, took part in the craziest game in Las Vegas this summer. And some people are already saying that the game might go down as one of the craziest games in AAU history.

On Wednesday night, LaMelo’s Big Ballers AAU team took the court at the Cashman Center in Las Vegas for an Adidas Uprising Summer Championships game against the SC Supreme AAU team, a South Carolina-based squad that features top college recruit Zion Williamson. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Williamson, he has made a name for himself by putting together one highlight reel after another filled with sick dunks and incredibly athletic plays:

Prior to the game, LaMelo’s dad LaVar Ball, who is the coach of the Big Ballers team, tried to hype up the contest by predicting that LaMelo would go off for 40 or 50 points during an interview with Overtime:

He also spoke about how he believes that he and LaMelo could beat Michael Jordan and LeBron James in a game of 2-on-2 while talking with Overtime:

But truthfully, the game didn’t need any more hype than it already had heading into the contest. According to ESPN, between 3,000 and 4,000 people made their way into the Cashman Center to watch the game. People were packed into every square inch of the gym long before the game started:

NBA stars Damian Lillard, Andrew Wiggins, Thon Maker, Jamal Murray, Eric Gordon, and of course, his brother Lonzo Ball were among those in attendance:

And in addition to all of the people inside the gym, there were reportedly another 1,500 waiting outside hoping to get in to watch LaMelo and Williamson play. Here's a look at the line before the game:

There were so many people that, at one point, LeBron showed up hoping to watch the much-anticipated matchup. But he was reportedly advised not to come into the gym because of the crowd:

Several college coaches, who are used to attending AAU games like this one throughout the year, said that Wednesday night's game was unlike anything they had ever seen before:

The closest comparison most people had for the game was the games LeBron played in back in the early 2000s when he was in high school:

Despite the obvious excitement surrounding the game, it was unclear if it would even be played just minutes before it was scheduled to start. One of the organizers for the event told ESPN that local police didn’t give the final OK for the game to begin until about 60 seconds before tip time.

And it wasn’t just people in Las Vegas who were clamoring to see LaMelo and Williamson play, either. Ball Is Life put up a livestream of the game that, according to SB Nation, drew more than 70,000 viewers at one point. In total, the livestream has been viewed more than one million times in just 12 hours:

The game itself was almost an afterthought after everything that led up to it, but both LaMelo and Williamson more than lived up to the hype they generated. LaMelo finished with 36 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists, while Williamson finished with 31 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals (not to mention several thunderous dunks). But ultimately, SC Supreme pulled out a 104-92 win in front of a packed house. You can watch highlights, courtesy of Overtime, here:

And when it was all over, LaVar stated the obvious while speaking with ESPN. He said that, moving forward, AAU organizers are going to need to pick larger arenas if they want to invite Big Ballers to play.

“They’re gonna have to get a bigger venue,” he said. “When the Big Baller brand come to town, better get something big.”

Whether you love or hate what LaVar and his sons are doing right now, this is just another example of how much chaos they’re creating out there in the world.

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Lonzo Ball on Whether He’s Starting a Sneaker Bidding War: ‘Something Like That’

Over the last three Summer League games, Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball has worn everything but his Big Baller Brand ZO2 shoes. Last Wednesday, Ball was spotted rocking the Nike Kobe AD. 

Two days later, Ball wore James Harden's signature Adidas shoe.

Then, Lonzo rocked the Under Armour Curry 4 personally sent to him by Steph.

Lonzo's ever-changing footwear of choice doesn't appear to be bothering his father LaVar one bit. “That boy can play barefoot and do the same thing. He’s just letting them know he can play in any shoe he feels like,” LaVar told ESPN. “That’s how that Big Baller Brand roll. We’ve got that independence. We don’t have to be strapped down. You know how many players want to do that?”

Prior to Sunday's Lakers game against the Dallas Mavericks, ESPN's Cassidy Hubbarth pointed out his latest footwear of choice tonight and wondered if there was an ulterior motive in the works. “You're wearing the Jordan 31s tonight … are you trying to start a bidding war here?,” Hubbarth asked. “Something like that,” Ball replied.

Regardless of what he throws on his feet, Lonzo is still balling out—no pun intended—against the Mavs.

Send all complaints, compliments, and tips to sportstips@complex.com.

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LaVar Ball Shoots Down Rumor About Lonzo Ducking De’Aaron Fox in Summer League

 

Earlier this week, the Lakers held Lonzo Ball out of a Summer League game against the Kings. And while that normally wouldn’t be all that big of a deal, Lonzo was scheduled to square off against De’Aaron Fox in that game for the first time since Fox got the better of him during Kentucky’s win over UCLA in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. So some NBA fans suspected Lonzo was skipping the game in an effort to duck Fox.

Fox himself even seemed to suggest that Lonzo was ducking him when he sent out this tweet that he deleted later:

Since then, Lonzo has silenced those who criticized him for sitting out that game by playing his two best Summer League games thus far. But some fans are still wondering why he didn’t play against the Kings, especially since he’s looked healthy in other games this week.

While attending an AAU tournament with his youngest son LaMelo on Thursday, LaVar Ball was asked about Lonzo’s absence during the Kings game. And as you might expect, he downplayed all of the speculation surrounding why his son sat out of the game. He said Lonzo isn’t “scared of nobody” and scoffed at the idea of Lonzo sitting out to avoid playing against a particular opponent:

“We don’t do that shit,” he said. “We ain’t scared of nobody. What you talking about? Y’all can think whatever y’all want. Whatever Magic [Johnson] and Rob [Pelinka] got him doing is what they got him doing.”

The speculation surrounding Lonzo skipping the game against the Kings has been kind of silly. We could understand people questioning him missing the game if there was some random streetball player taking part in the Summer League that had it out for him. But we’re pretty sure Fox is going to make the Kings roster next season, and we’re pretty sure Lonzo is going to have to play against him at some point. So what exactly would be the point of him ducking him in a Summer League game?

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Lonzo Ball Went Off in Front of LeBron James During a Summer League Game, and NBA Twitter Lost It

Lonzo Ball played his best game of the Las Vegas Summer League on Wednesday night. He went off for 36 points, 8 rebounds, 11 assists, 5 steals, and 2 blocks in the Lakers’ 103-102 win over the 76ers. And he did it while wearing a pair of Nike sneakers as LeBron James looked on from the crowd, which made the night even crazier than it already was for both Lonzo and those NBA fans watching the game from home.

When Lonzo took the court at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas for Los Angeles’ game against Philadelphia, the first thing that most people noticed was that he wasn’t wearing his signature Big Baller Brand ZO2 sneakers.

Instead, Lonzo was rocking a pair of Kobe Bryant’s signature Nike sneakers, which sparked quite a reaction among NBA fans on Twitter:

That reaction continued once the game started. As Lonzo picked apart the Sixers’ defense and did a little bit of everything on the court, NBA fans picked apart his affiliation with BBB and commented on how much better he was playing in a pair of Kobes:

There was also a LeBron sighting at the game, and of course, that got a lot of attention, too. Some NBA fans openly wondered why LeBron was at a Lakers’ Summer League game and speculated about how it might be a sign that he’s seriously considering joining the team in free agency next summer:

LeBron downplayed that talk by telling ESPN.com that he’s in Las Vegas right now to work with the players on the Cavaliers’ Summer League team. He also said that he was at the Lakers/76ers game to see former Cavaliers assistant coach Lloyd Pierce, who is now with the Sixers.

But while speaking with ESPN.com in the fourth quarter, he acknowledged that he was impressed with what he saw from Lonzo. “He can really pass it,” LeBron said.

LeBron also acknowledged that he was impressed with what he saw on Lonzo’s feet by putting up this Instagram post after the game:

 

Just. Do. It

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on Jul 12, 2017 at 9:44pm PDT

For his part, Lonzo said that he saw LeBron in the crowd. He claimed it didn’t make him play any harder, but he said he hoped LeBron got a glimpse of what he’s able to do on the court. “Saw him at halftime,” Lonzo told ESPN.com. “It’s nice that he came out and got to see the game. Did it inspire me? No. But I hope he saw a good game.”

And Lonzo also explained his choice of sneakers for the game. While everyone else freaked out over him wearing Kobes, he offered up a simple explanation for why he went with Nike sneakers over his usual BBB kicks. “Um, you know, Mamba mentality,” Lonzo said, referencing Kobe. “Thought I’d switch it up.”

He added: “Like I said, you can wear whatever you want when you play with Big Baller Brand…and it is just nice to get out there and do that.”

The Lakers return to action on Thursday night against, oddly enough, LeBron’s Cavaliers. Don’t be surprised if LeBron shows up to see Lonzo again. And after what he was able to do against the Sixers, don’t be surprised if Lonzo wears Kobes again, either.

 

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Lonzo Ball Says 21 Savage’s ‘Issa Album’ Is Better Than Jay Z’s ‘4:44’

Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball has only played in two NBA Summer League games, but he's developed into one of the most polarizing figures in the league today. Following his rocky debut where he scored five points on 2-for-15 shooting from the field with five assists, four rebounds, and three turnovers in 32 minutes, people were quick to hit the panic button. Or, even worse, call him a bust. The very next game, Ball silenced his doubters by racking up a triple-double with 11 points, 11 dimes, and 11 boards. 

After (briefly) settling down all the haters, Ball should have just laid low. Instead, this year's No.2 overall pick created another brushfire by delivering this scalding hot take on Twitter. 

Needless to say, people weren't feeling what he had to say. 

Stay in your lane, Lonzo, and avoid trying to tarnish Hov's name. 

Send all complaints, compliments, and tips to sportstips@complex.com.

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NBA Draft Picks Were Put on Blast With These Old Embarrassing Tweets

Here’s some free advice for all of the guys who are hoping to get selected in the NBA Draft next year: start going through your various social media accounts now and deleting anything that could potentially come back to bite you once you walk across the stage and shake hands with Adam Silver. Trust us, it'll be well worth your time.

It should be a pretty simple concept, and NBA prospects pay agents, publicists, and other handlers quite a bit of money to make them look good in the public eye. We would guess that a big part of that is scrubbing anything that could be perceived as even slightly controversial off social media in the months, weeks, and even days leading up to a big event like the NBA Draft.

But on Thursday night, 60 players were selected during the NBA Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and after they were drafted, Twitter went into overdrive and started looking through their old tweets to try and dig up any dirt that they may have posted in the past. And somewhat amazingly—in a “How the hell is this still happening?” kind of way—there were quite a few players who had incriminating stuff located deep in their Twitter timelines.

Some of the stuff was relatively harmless but still raised eyebrows among NBA fan bases. For example, Jayson Tatum—who was selected No. 3 overall by the Celtics—once sent out this tweet in the middle of a Boston game in 2012:

Jayson Tatum tweet.
Image via Twitter

Likewise, Lonzo Ball, the Lakers’ pick at No. 2 overall, sent out this tweet back in 2013 that seemed to predict Kobe Bryant & Co. wouldn’t make the playoffs before the 2013-14 season even started:

Lonzo Ball tweet.
Image via Twitter

Jordan Bell, who was drafted by the Bulls at No. 38 before being traded to the Warriors, said this about Golden State in 2016:

And Terrance Ferguson, selected with the No. 21 pick by the Thunder, had this to say about Oklahoma City when the Warriors were on the verge of coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the 2016 Western Conference Finals:

Terrance Ferguson tweet.
Image via Twitter

We’re sure OKC fans loved being reminded of that, especially since the loss to the Warriors ended up costing them Kevin Durant. We’re also sure they now appreciate the fact that Ferguson is actually from Oklahoma but was actively rooting against the Thunder as recently as just last year.

But those tweets were just the beginning. Elsewhere, Twitter dug up this old 2012 tweet from Edmond Sumner, the Pacers’ pick at No. 52, that featured him accusing the NBA of being fixed:

Edmond Sumner tweet.
Image via Twitter

There was also this tweet from Sindarius Thornwell, who was drafted at No. 48 by the Bucks before being traded to the Clippers, that outlined his approach to dating:

Sindarius Thornwell tweet.
Image via Twitter

But the most interesting—and the most embarrassing—old tweets came from the No. 9 and No. 10 picks in the draft. Zach Collins went tenth overall to the Trail Blazers, and when he did, some Portland fans took to Twitter in an effort to find out more about him, since he was one of the lesser-known prospects to go in the lottery portion of the draft. What they found was this 2012 (2 Chainz-inspired?) tweet:

Zach Collins tweet.
Image via Twitter

They also discovered this extremely awkward Vine of Collins twerking—or at least, what we think was his best attempt at twerking:

Collins deleted both of those tweets as well as a bunch of others that showed him acting a fool when he was, like, 14.

But the most embarrassing tweet of the night definitely belonged to Dennis Smith Jr., who went ninth overall to the Mavericks in the draft. Shortly after he was selected, one of his tweets from back in 2012 went viral, and it took him a long time (too long!) to take it down. It said—*cringe*—this:

Dennis Smith Jr. tweet.
Image via Twitter

The moral of the story here is pretty simple. If you’re going to spend your teenage years tweeting whatever your little heart desires, cool. But make sure you delete everything—and we do mean everything—before you’re on one of the biggest stages in sports. Or else…

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Lonzo Ball Knew He Was Going To Be a Laker and (Maybe) Made NBA Draft History

If he was tipped off, he didn’t say. But if Lonzo Ball truly didn’t have assurance from the Lakers that he was going to be the second pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft, he felt it in his bones. Or more accurately his feet.

Because sitting in the green room, off to the right of the podium where commissioner Adam Silver announced all 30 first round selections, Ball decided to switch shoes once the Lakers were on the clock.  

Gone where the black hard bottoms he was sporting earlier. Out came a pair of the infamous Big Baller Brand ZO2s that retail for $495. Only these weren’t all black, like the ones that infamously debuted back in May. This pair was gold and purple—Lakers colors. And before Silver could say Ball’s name, he casually slipped on the sneakers because he just knew suiting up for his hometown team was his destiny.

“Just had a good feeling, and changed them five minutes before when they was on the clock, and I'm glad they called my name,” said Ball, in typically understated fashion.

The NBA’s signature fashion event, where 19-and-20-year-old kids get decked out in suits that would put every prom outside of Beverly Hills to shame, usually does not feature any wardrobe changes, other than the addition of a team hat once Silver calls your name. But Ball just might have authored an NBA first when he switched shoes in the middle of the draft.

Magic Johnson and the Lakers got their point guard of the present and future, one ESPN’s Jay Williams told us Wednesday could be “transcendent.”

Ball told Complex he changed “when [the Lakers] had the pick, right after Markelle” Fultz was chosen first by the Sixers. The Ball family had them hidden “right under the table” and Lonzo “had a feeling” he was about to be next selection. And that’s when he slipped into something way more comfortable and way more marketable than a pair of black dress shoes.

And really, Lonzo rocking a brand new colorway of the ZO2s was arguably one of the more interesting subplots to come out of the NBA Draft that didn't revolve around the Jimmy Butler trade to the Timberwolves or the prospect of Phil Jackson asininely shipping Kristaps Porzingis somewhere. Because the top part of the draft didn’t veer far from most projections. It was short on suspense and very predictable. 

Fultz went to the Sixers. Lonzo to the Lakers. Jayson Tatum to the Celtics at No. 3. Josh Jackson to the Suns at No. 4 and De’Aaron Fox, the guy who was rumored to be ahead of Ball on the Lakers’ draft board about a month ago, went to the Kings at No. 5.

In the end, LaVar Ball, with his swagger on a hundred, thousand, trillion at Barclays Center, could do his damn thing, talk his talk, and most especially walk his signature walk. His son was drafted to the only team he ever wanted him to play for, the team he predicted months ago would wind up with his son. LaVar proved to be a prophet.

Lonzo Ball LaVar Ball Green Room NBA Draft 2017
Image via USA Today Sports/Brad Penner

The man behind Big Baller Brand was surprisingly absent as Lonzo made his way through the arena's bowels, talking to reporters, taking part in NBA sanctioned obligations, and getting hounded by little kids for autographs. Usually, new draftees are paraded all over the arena with their handlers and based on how hands-on LaVar has been, it wasn’t out of the question to expect him to tail his son. But maybe it was by design that he didn’t, or maybe it was just happenstance that papa Ball had to stick around with the rest of his brood and babysit the younger LiAngelo and LaMelo while Lonzo basked in his crowning achievement of his 19 years of existence.

We didn’t really get to witness the bragging and boasting of LaVar afterward, which would have been gold. But he got what he wanted, what he predicted. And we, as NBA fans, got what was basically expected from the darft.

With the rest of the top 10 relatively bereft of drama, Lonzo winding up with the Lakers was arguably the biggest draft-specific story of the night. Lakers exec Magic Johnson got his point guard of the present and future, one ESPN’s Jay Williams told us Wednesday could be “transcendent.” Predictably, Lonzo was about as emotive as a robot, barely smiling or acting like a giddy teenager you’d expect most kids in his position to be.

But at least he was rocking the freshest kicks in the house, the ones nobody else was wearing or could get their hands at the time, the ones that he can most definitely afford now that's he's a Laker. 

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De’Aaron Fox’s Father Aaron Takes Shot at LaVar and Lonzo Ball

In his final game as a member of the UCLA Bruins, Lonzo Ball gave NBA teams a lot to think about, and it had nothing to do with his lackluster stat line of 10 points, eight assists, and three rebounds on 4-for-10 shooting. It had more to do with the player across the court from Lonzo: Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox. Fox was instrumental in helping propel the Wildcats past the Bruins in the Sweet 16 of the 2016 NCAA Tournament, scoring 39 points, dishing out four dimes, and grabbing three boards while going 13-for-20 from the field. 

Following the game, Lonzo's father LaVar dismissed Fox's performance. “They came up short, but one game doesn't define his season,” he said, per ESPN. “No one is going to take De'Aaron Fox over him because of one game. It's about your body of work, and people know what he can do.” While Fox admits that his 39-point performance was meant to “shut LaVar Ball up,” the Wildcats point guard's father Aaron has remained relatively quiet. That is, until he sat down with Jonathan Abrams of Bleacher Report

When LaVar and his son Lonzo were brought up in their conversation, Aaron took a clear dig at the Ball family, claiming De'Aaron “already ate his ass up twice” during their match-ups last season.

“My son already ate his ass up twice,” he said. “[LaVar] can say what he wants to say. I just tell him to go back and watch the film. That’s it. All that yap, yap, yapping, I don’t even got to respond to that. We played them twice. Twice his son got outplayed. I always tell [De’Aaron], let your game speak for it. You ain’t got to talk. You ain’t got to fuss.”

With De'Aaron and Lonzo's entire NBA career ahead of them, this probably isn't the last time we have heard of Aaron or LaVar throwing shade at one another. 

Send all complaints, compliments, and tips to sportstips@complex.com.

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Is This the Rarest Air Jordan In Existence?

It's impossible to single out one pair of Air Jordans as the rarest in the world. There's several one-offs, as well as a few mysterious samples that can't or haven't been explained. However, Kris Arnold can make the claim that he at least owns one of the rarest Air Jordans, and he stopped by Sole Collector's Full Size Run last week to share the story of how he obtained this likely unicorn.

During the early 90s, Arnold worked as an account executive at ProServ, a sports management firm that included Michael Jordan as one of its clients. Among the many projects ProServ worked on for Jordan was helping put together his Nike deal. Jordan had parted ways with the company a year early, prompting an office cleanout of gear that had been stored and displayed. When Arnold saw two Air Jordan sneakers on the verge of being tossed out, he asked if he could take them instead. The shoes were early production samples of the original “Chicago” and “Black Toe” Air Jordan 1s.

“I happened to be there in my office while it was happening and I said, 'No, I’ll take those.’” Arnold told us in a 2015 interview. “They were going to just throw them in the trash. That’s what they would’ve done hands down.”

Air Jordan 1 Black Toe 1985 Prototype

At first glance, one may not notice the differences between Arnold's shoes and the pairs that actually released, but there are distinguishing features. For example, the overall shape of the samples is a bit more sleek, the cut is lower, the Swooshes are larger, the toebox cut is minimal and there's subtle differences on the outsole.

To date, Arnold has received big money offers for his Jordans, but not one that has seriously made him consider selling. With that said, he hasn't completely ruled out parting with the shoes.

See Arnold discuss his rare samples in the video above, which also includes segments on the new Spike Lee x Air Jordan 1, DJ Khaled x Air Jordan 3, Lonzo Ball x Foot Locker and more. Subscribe to Full Size Size Run on YouTube and iTunes for future episodes

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Lonzo Ball Writes Touching Father’s Day Letter to LaVar

You don't really have to be a basketball fan to have an opinion about LaVar Ball at this point. He has been such an overwhelming presence in the media over the last few months that you're almost forced to take a stance on him, unless you just stay off social media altogether. Plenty of people—including some who otherwise root for his son—laugh anytime LaVar sees even a little bit of adversity.

This might shock you, but Lonzo Ball has a different take. With less than a week to go before the 2017 NBA Draft, Lonzo is attempting to change the conversation surrounding his father. First, it was a hilarious ad for Foot Locker that showed he was capable of mocking his dad. Now, he wants the world to see how much he loves and appreciates what his father did to get him to where he is today.

In a letter penned for The Players' TribuneLonzo reflected on being pushed by his father to not settle for mediocrity:

Every day, no matter what, you’d take LiAngelo and LaMelo and me around the corner from our house in Chino to run up and down that hill in the heat before bringing us back home to do sit-ups.

You were always out there with us, leading the way. You were there for every step. Pushing, encouraging and refusing to accept anything less than our very best. You never forced me to do any of it. You knew that you never needed to. You understood me.

And when I did need some motivation, you always knew just how to push my buttons. It wasn’t by making me do more reps or anything like that. It just came down to saying something simple like, 'I hope you know that you’re not getting better.' That was all I ever needed to hear from you to make me keep grinding.

Though a lot of people—myself included!—have pined for Ball to put some distance between himself and his dad's ridiculous comments, that's easier said than done for a teenager. LaVar's ridiculous claims aside, Lonzo feels like he owes a lot of his success to his dad, and he's not just going to turn his back on him because other people are mad about his brash personality.

And though publicly they seem like much different people, Lonzo insists the two are much more similar than you might imagine. He claims he has the same bold personality as his father, he just keeps it under the surface a little better:

People may not see it, but I possess the very same confidence that you have. (I think Melo got all of the talking genes.) In fact, when I think about it, confidence is the most important thing that I inherited from you. The difference is, I’ve internalized it. Everything you’ve told me, I’ve absorbed and used on the court. That’s where I do my talking.

The confidence that you have in me makes me feel so strong. It’s helped me to never back down from a challenge and to stay true to myself. I’m going to be taking this next step to the NBA knowing that I’m ready. And no matter what’s thrown at me, I know you’re always going to have my back.

Lonzo goes on to thank his dad just for being there at all, knowing many kids grow up without a father figure in their lives. Regardless of what you think about the Ball family's methods, it's clear that they love and respect one another, despite some obvious contrasts in how they carry themselves.

You can read the full Players' Tribune piece here, and if you're fortunate enough to have your dad in your life, maybe you can use this as inspiration to forgive him for some of his more embarrassing traits. At the very least, you get to deal with them in a more private setting. 

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