Chino Hills photo: Chris Dufresne

LaVar Ball has every right to brag about his talented basketball sons, who have helped put a little Meadowlark Lemon into our lovely hills of Chino.

(Update: Brag about your SONS, LaVar, not yourself. It’s one thing to say you think Lonzo is already better than Steph Curry. Telling USA Today that, in your heyday, YOU could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard this year from someone not running for high office. You don’t think we can’t look things up? Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. You averaged 2.2 points one year at Washington State. Stop this kind of talk NOW. This is not about you, remember, this is about your boys. Or maybe it is about you?)  

Mr. Ball may have already reached the tipping point with media types like myself, however, who love a good “Hometown Buffet” story until we can savagely turn on it.

(Update: Scratch “may” from that sentence. The media has already transitioned from a tipping, to ripping, point. Twitter trolls have started a “LaVar Ball Says” hash tag. LaVar is getting hammered on social media.)

We may be 10 minutes from our first “Wrecking Ball” headline.

(Update: it was more like five minutes.) 

Making Chino Hills famous, first off, has been no easy trick.

(Update: I’m starting to wonder now about the fine line between famous and infamous.)  

My wife and I moved here one sweltering summer day, in 1989, thinking we had missed the exit ramp and landed in Sheboygan.

My joke for years was that Chino Hills was Wisconsin without the winter.

We were a cow town that smelled like cows on days the Santa Ana winds turned on us from the East. Chino Hills was not a city yet; rather a holier-than-thou adjunct to Chino. In other words–a prison town with quality milk products churned by Dutch families later forced to Bakersfield in order to make room for my nice home on a cul-de-sac.

When we moved here from Long Beach, there was no inkling of bulldozing our fabulous community park for the “Shoppes of Chino Hills,” which included paid parking meters. The town we arrived in had an Alpha Beta, a Del Taco, the Canyon Corral steak shack and a Basque restaurant on Central.

Chino’s reputation was still stinging from the awful aftermath of a 1983 prison escape that led to grizzly murder.

Our infrastructure breakthrough came with the long-last extension of Grand Avenue through the hills from Diamond Bar which, for years, I suspected wanted nothing to do with us (but welcomed Snoop Dogg).  Grand Avenue connected us, though, to the 57 Freeway and that opened up a land-grab vein from Orange County.

Chino Hills became incorporated in 1991, a full 10 years before Chino Hills High was established.

Now look at us. Last year we made national news when our local 7-Eleven produced a “Lotto” winner and several hoax winners. That was fun.

We also watched the Ball brothers–Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo—rise from Woody Guthrie’s ribbon of highway (71) to become America’s first basketball family.

Our hills are now alive, with the sound of sneaker squeaks, but is this a cautionary trail?

(Update: Hope not. Pray not. Todd Marinovich, the son of an overbearing father, never recovered from his adolescent over-hype as a wunderkind athlete.  Marinovich is still in the news, making the wrong kind of headlines. Fame, at a young age, can be a dangerous toxin.) 

Fame has an over-flow point I fear the Balls have reached.  I don’t know LaVar Ball from Lucille Ball but I know what sets off the news media’s B.S. detector.

(Update: He has set it off. Some might say B.S. stands for “Ball Shit.” )

The more LaVar talks, the worse it gets. There was nothing but bouquets tossed last year when the “boys” led Chino Hills High to an undefeated season and national championship. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.