The Ball family could be legends or losers
One of the more interesting stories to come out of the sports world this past year was the story of the Ball family. The family first gained notoriety when its oldest son, Lonzo, started gaining national attention as a high school prospect at Chino Hills High School, in California. He committed to the University of California, Los Angeles, and it was soon clear that he would be one of the top talents in his draft class. During Lonzo’s freshman year, his younger brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo made headlines of their own as they dominated opponents as a senior and sophomore at Chino Hills. As the word of the family’s talent spread, and Lonzo’s future in the National Basketball Association became more cemented, the patriarch of the family began to make his presence known.
LaVar Ball has always had a brash personality, but as his children improved, his comments became more outrageous, leading LaVar to gain a national following as well. In March, LaVar stated that he could beat Michael Jordan, arguably the best basketball player in the history of the world, in a game of one-on-one. He soon after appeared on ESPN’s “First Take” with Stephen A. Smith to discuss his comments, and the rest is history. If basketball fans didn’t know LaVar before, they certainly knew him then. LaVar was seemingly always in the headlines in the months leading up to the draft, saying Lonzo would only sign in LA, among other ridiculous statements. This caused some NBA players to build resentment towards Lonzo before he had even played an NBA game. LaVar has always acted on the behalf of his kids. When athletic companies such as Nike and Adidas wouldn’t offer his sons a lucrative enough shoe deal, LaVar decided to start his own line of sportswear that would sell under the Big Baller Brand. Lonzo’s debut sneaker, the ZO2, retails for almost $500, a higher price than any product offered by more established brands. At the shoe’s launch, Ball took to twitter to say “If you can’t afford the ZO2’s, you’re NOT a BIG BALLER.” The slides sell for a whopping $220, and a single pair of low cut big baller brand socks retails at an astounding $25. The Brand has sold a fair amount of merchandise, but is still working on getting off the ground.
Lonzo has been having a solid rookie season, putting up respectable numbers. They’ve been nothing spectacular, but if you listen to LaVar, it’s due to Luke Walton’s coaching and not his son’s play. As the Lakers look to add top talent in the free agent market next offseason, many speculate whether LaVar’s antics will have any effect on whether people sign with LA.
LiAngelo had a much more eventful freshman year at UCLA. On a team trip to China, LiAngelo and two teammates were detained in China for shoplifting and faced serious prison time. This made national headlines and eventually, President Donald Trump called Chinese officials to set the athletes free. Following these events, LaVar announced that LiAngelo would leave UCLA and join his younger brother LaMelo in signing with a professional team in Lithuania. LaVar is aware of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s distaste for one and done players, so using funding from Big Baller Brand, Lavar created the Junior Basketball Association. The league hopes to field 10 teams which will play in NBA arenas. While some may find LaVar’s antics entertaining, others do not share in that opinion.
LiAngelo and LaMelo were on the path to having NBA careers of their own. Even with the shoplifting incident, LiAngelo probably would’ve had a successful freshman season and would also been drafted to the league next year. LaMelo had just started his junior year in high school with a commitment made to UCLA when he was in 8th grade. But after signing an agent for his two children, LaVar destroyed his children’s chances to play basketball in college and by sending them to Lithuania, is gambling their dreams of playing in the NBA.