LaVar Ball may have really done it now. On Monday the senior-most Ball announced that he was pulling his middle son, LiAngelo, from UCLA. Big Ball was upset that the school had placed his son and two other students—Cody Riley and Jalen Hill—on indefinite suspension after the three student-athletes were caught shoplifting in China.
“I’m not sitting back and waiting,” LaVar Ball told ESPN. “He wasn’t punished this bad in China.
“We get back over here and the consequences were even stiffer than China,” he continued. “So basically they’re in jail here.”
So Daddy Ball is pulling his son out of college. In October he pulled his youngest son, LaMelo, then a junior at Chino Hills high school, out of school after a disagreement about the system the coach planned to implement.
So far, the lone Ball success has been the progression of Lonzo, who was a one-and-done player at UCLA before being drafted No. 2 by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2016 NBA draft. While the jury is still out on Lonzo, his rookie season is about what many expected: flashes of dominance marred by a really ugly jump shot and stretches where he disappears on the court. Which is hard to do when your dad might be the loudest person in Staples Center, drawing so much attention to the first-year player that the team has reportedly implemented the “LaVar Ball rule.”
Here’s how ESPN breaks down the rule:
[T]he Los Angeles Lakers are enforcing a policy that no longer allows members of the media to congregate in a section of the arena among family and associates of players after games.
Family, friends and agents wait for players in the seats behind the basket closest to the visiting team’s locker room at the end of games. Interviews conducted in that designated area and near the tunnel leading to the arena corridors are now forbidden.
In prior years, media socialized and, at times, interviewed individuals in that sector without interference. If a media member is recognized in that area now, arena security or Lakers staffers direct that he or she leave the area.
Now that LiAngelo is no longer a student at UCLA, the biggest Ball can get back to what seems to drive all his decision-making: money. Even LaVar Ball’s well-publicized feud with President Donald Trump has been a moneymaking exploit that includes Ball sending the president three pairs of red-white-and-blue Big Ball Brand sneakers to show that the Ball family is patriotic.
Now the NCAA doesn’t have to look through its phonebook-sized rulebook to see if a student with his own signature shoe playing in college violates any regulations, because Daddy Ball took care of that. Instead of pulling the sneaker, he pulled his son from school, and ESPN is already announcing that there are plans for the release of the Gelo 3.
And now the senior Ball is reportedly looking to ship both LiAngelo and LaMelo overseas, thus ending their collegiate careers before they began. And until they succeed, which I hope they do, they are effectively high school and college dropouts.
I never thought I’d have to say this in print, but LaVar Ball is out of his damn LaMind.
Not because he pulled his middle son out of college, but because he pulled his middle son who isn’t nearly as talented as his first child, Lonzo. His middle child also does not have the upside of his youngest son, LaMelo. In truth, LiAngelo shoplifted before—when he stole a scholarship from UCLA. Had he stayed in college and earned his degree, that wouldn’t have been a robbery; it would have been a fair exchange: a decent degree for what was most likely going to be a decent career.
But Daddy Ball has gone full cheerleader mom by pulling his son out of college. So LiAngelo gets caught stealing, and the university puts him and the other two students who were caught with him on indefinite suspension. This was an opportunity for LiAngelo to grow up and show that he’d learned his lesson. Does it matter if he actually learns anything? Hell no. But coaches and organizations like to be able to look at how players handle adversity, and they don’t have that now because Daddy Ball took him out of school.
So unless your cable network gets basketball games in Jakarta, Indonesia, or unless LiAngelo can team up with two washed-up NBA veterans and join the Big3, we may never get to see him play ball. LaVar is a big talker and even bigger gambler, and while his “bit” as a loudmouth know-it-all worked alongside Lonzo’s quiet demeanor and unique basketball abilities, LiAngelo is not Lonzo.
Here’s what NBA senior analyst Adrian Wojnarowski had to say about LiAngelo’s prospects for playing at the next level.
I don’t see an NBA team taking a chance on a middle-of-the-road player who they didn’t see compete against top college talent because his daddy, whom they know they’re going to have to deal with, pulled him out of school. LaVar Ball really burned LiAngelo with this move, and I think NBA execs, coaches and staff are getting a little tired of the Big Baller Brand and all that comes with it.