In an act of irrationality only Lavar Ball would go through with, recent UCLA dropout LiAngelo Ball and his younger brother, LaMelo Ball, have signed with an agent and plan to play overseas. This move makes both of them instantly ineligible to play college basketball, and officially withdraws LaMelo from his commitment to play for UCLA.
Lonzo Ball, the oldest of the three sons of the brashest Mr. Potato Head you’ve ever imagined, played one season at UCLA before being chosen second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers, for whom he now starts at point guard. He is also the only reason I can file this article under ‘NBA’, because the odds either LiAngelo or LaMelo play in the NBA are slim to none.
LiAngelo made headlines when he and two UCLA teammates were arrested for shoplifting while travelling with the team in China. They were released sometime after President Donald Trump met with China’s President Xi while on a trip to Asia, which then sparked the most outrageous feud since your three-year-old argued with you about bedtime. LiAngelo was serving his suspension when Lavar pulled him out of UCLA to explore other options to prepare him for the NBA draft.
Reaction from writers and draft experts at this move was blunt and incredibly necessary. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted the following: “Ex-UCLA freshman LiAngelo Ball has no chance that he’ll be drafted in June — and that was true before his shoplifting incident in China. ‘He’s not on any of our scouting lists — even the extended lists,’ one GM told ESPN.”
Responding to reports of his sons signing with an agent, Lavar said the following: “I don’t care about the money, I want them to go somewhere where they will play them together on the court at the same time. The priority is for the boys to play on the same team.”
There are only two possible reasons why Lavar would care that the boys play on the same team; the first is that he’s a caring father that wants his sons to be together as they venture off into a new country where they don’t know the language or culture. There is zero chance this is the real reason, because no caring father would deprive his child of a full scholarship to any college, let alone UCLA.
The real reason is that Big Baller Brand and Lavar’s retirement plan all hinge on his sons’ success on the court. Without successful play from the Ball brothers, Big Baller Brand dies. Lavar knows that LiAngelo is the least skilled of the three brothers, he said it himself, and can’t afford, literally, to wait out what would have been a lackluster season at UCLA and an embarrassing showing at the draft for his middle child. Lonzo’s struggles with the Lakers and his quiet demeanor aren’t enough to build the brand on his own, so Lavar did this.
At least by having both of his sons sharing the backcourt in China, Lithuania, Iraq, wherever they end up, he’ll have some sort of spectacle to draw from to increase sales and live comfortably. Right now, he’s banking on his sons’ $500 sneakers and $220 sandals (yes, you read that correctly) to sell. I’d pay $1,000 for Greg Ostertag overalls before I bought $500 shoes designed for a kid who can’t breathe with his mouth closed.
Again, I don’t believe LiAngelo or LaMelo will have any significant success at the pro level or the NBA. I believe their greatest success will come when they’re estranged from Lavar and begin speaking at TED conferences about the dangers of fathers living vicariously through their athletic children.