Lavar Ball and his three sons were supposed to take over the world. Not the basketball world, but the world. That doesn’t look likely.
Lavar Ball’s master plan is slowly becoming a shattered dream. Ball, the CEO of Big Baller Brand and the father of three young, talented basketball players, has been under some serious pressure over the past few months.
The Ball Family has faced obstacles no one saw coming. His middle child—and former UCLA basketball player—LiAngelo Ball’s arrest has not only damaged the family name but likely made his NBA dreams unreachable. His oldest son Lonzo Ball, who is the face of the Los Angeles Lakers, is showing signs of a bust. His youngest son, LaMelo, is no longer considering a UCLA basketball scholarship and is exploring options to play overseas. The outspoken father who guaranteed that all three of his sons would be Lakers and bring the “Ball Era” to the NBA is becoming nothing but an afterthought. The “Ball Plan” does not look promising.
LiAngelo, the middle child of the Ball Family, committed to UCLA when he was a junior in high school. Ball did not last long as a Bruin, however. UCLA opened their preseason in China against an underrated Georgia Tech team. UCLA ended up taking the win but took a bigger loss. After the win, Ball and two other UCLA freshman were detained for shoplifting, which was caught by video surveillance in as many as three stores.
Shoplifting is a serious crime in China, punishable by serious jail time—anywhere from three to 10 years in a Chinese prison. The three UCLA shoplifters were forced to stay at a hotel in China for an extra week while the rest of the team flew back home. United States President Donald Trump spoke to Xi Jinping, the president of China, and a deal was made to bring the three UCLA players back home and face no charges.
Lavar Ball made national headlines by not thanking President Trump for the help. Ball believes that there isn’t enough proof to determine that the President was the main reason for his son’s release. He went on CNN to discuss his reasoning surrounding the situation. During the interview, Ball told CNN’s Chris Cuomo “It wasn’t like he was in the U.S. and said, ‘Okay, there’s three kids in China, I need to go over there and get them.’ That wasn’t the thought process.” President Trump later tweeted his thoughts on the outspoken father.
When the three UCLA shoplifters returned home from China, UCLA held a press conference regarding the situation. Ball and the two other basketball players vocally apologized for their actions and thanked the Presidents of both countries. At the end of the press conference, UCLA announced that all three players would be suspended indefinitely and there was no timetable for their return to the court.
This past week, Lavar Ball announced that he was pulling LiAngelo out of UCLA. “I’m not going to let UCLA take the fire out of my boy by not letting him play for two months,” he told Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times via Bill Platschke. “We’re going to do some other options.’’ This is great news for the UCLA Bruins Men basketball team. Since Ball is no longer enrolled, UCLA will have their hands almost clean of the situation.
This shoplifting incident has destroyed LiAngelo’s NBA hopes. Ball was only a three-star recruit out of high school. The big-built guard does not have what it takes to become an NBA-caliber player, even if he played his entire freshman year at UCLA. Overseas is the best option for the 19-year-old guard. He can make some good money doing what he wants to do—playing professional basketball.
LaMelo is the youngest Ball in the family. Considered a top 10 recruit as a sophomore, the Lavar pulled the 16-year-old out of Chino Hills High School due to coaching and administration issues. LaMelo is currently home-schooled by his father.
Not only is he no longer expected to attend UCLA, but there are questions about whether he’ll even be eligible to play as he has his own signature shoe, something the NCAA doesn’t allow.
He’ll likely be in the same position LiAngelo is; looking at options to play overseas for a minimum of a season. That said, LaMelo is more talented than his older brother and, assuming he continues to develop, is a legitimate NBA prospect.
Lonzo is the face of the Los Angeles Lakers but hasn’t been playing as well as expected. he should be. The second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft is shooting only 42 percent from the free throw line and a horrific 31.3 percent from the floor. Ball is only averaging 8.7 points per game and seems to lack confidence. His play might also be affected by the off-court issues involving his family.
While Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma are playing well, taking some pressure off of Lonzo, he needs to start showing signs of improvement before people start thinking that Lavar “wrote too many checks” for Lonzo to “cash.”
The Lakers recently enforced a new rule which restricts media from entering or interviewing family members and friends of Lakers players. The rule can be nicknamed the “Lavar Ball Rule.”
So—is Lavar’s time in the spotlight slowly dying out? With all his sons in unexpected positions and his dream not going to plan, he should be worried. His entire “empire” rests on the shoulders of three kids who don’t seem up to the challenge.