By Sullivan Burgess ’20
If you are watching the news, ESPN, Fox Sports, or any other media outlet, you are subjected to keeping tabs on the NBA’s newest and most controversial basketball family, otherwise known as the Ball family. Here is the million dollar question: is this family worth the hype or attention?
Let us start with the oldest of the brothers, Lonzo: as the second pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, there were high hopes in Laker Nation as Magic Johnson, the President of Basketball Operations for the team, put his trust into Lonzo to be the future of the team. Currently, Lonzo is averaging 10.2 points per game, 7.1 rebounds per game, and 7.1 assists per game, shooting 35.6 percent from the field, and remains sixth in the midseason rankings of NBA Rookie of the Year as the Lakers remain 15-28 in the west at 12th place.
Throughout this season, we have seen the head of the family, Lonzo’s father, Lavar Ball, continue constant off-court drama including his negative words against Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton, saying, “Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him.”
This ongoing behavior against his son’s coaches has a long history, including pulling the youngest brother of the three, LaMelo, from his last two years of high school due to the father’s differences with the coach, as well as wanting him to receive the best training possible for his future career.
LaMelo, who withdrew his scholarship from UCLA, now plays overseas with the Vytautas Prienai-Birštonas of the Lithuanian Basketball League alongside his older brother and middle child LiAngelo Ball, who signed after he left UCLA to avoid a long-term suspension after being arrested.
As reported in the news, LiAngelo was arrested for shoplifting in China alongside two other UCLA players, who still remain suspended from the team. This story resulted in the still ongoing feud between Lavar and President Trump over Lavar’s comments on the President’s involvement with his son and the other two players. LaMelo and LiAngelo debuted in Lithuania on Jan. 13 of this year, making LaMelo the youngest professional player of the sport at 16 years old, as well as the youngest athlete to have his own signature shoe of the Big Baller Brand, the second of the signature shoe line of the family including Lonzo’s ZO 2s, which came out over the summer of 2017.
The team lost 95-86 to the Lietkabelis Panevezys as the brothers were scoreless in the minutes they played, combining for 0-7 in shooting. This summer, Lavar is expected to begin a Junior Basketball League, in which top prospect players can choose to play professionally to avoid being labeled one and done in the NCAA, with player salaries ranging from $3,000 to $10,000. Now that you know all of their actions, you can decide if the family is worth the hype.