By Matthew Barnes, Contributing Writer
If you have any form of social media, you’ve probably heard of the Ball family, especially the outspoken, charismatic father Lavar. The patriarch of the household made himself famous by saying ridiculous statements about his three sons’ basketball talents, and the media has rewarded him with attention.
The Balls are known for their family-owned sports apparel business, the Big Baller Brand (BBB). It is ridiculously overpriced: his eldest son Lonzo’s signature shoe costs $495. However, regarding BBB’s most recent release, inflated pricing might be the least of their worries.
The youngest son, LaMelo, is a junior in high school. He was the top trend on Twitter a few months ago when he dropped 92 points in one game. He has already committed to UCLA, and has a lot of potential to be the program’s next superstar. That is, if he gets to play.
On Aug. 31, BBB announced a signature shoe for LaMelo, which is available to pre-order and costs $395. This makes him the only high school player in history to sport his own pair of kicks. He needs to enjoy those shoes now, though, because he might not be wearing them to play in college.
NCAA rules prohibit college athletes from using their own spotlight to endorse anything. Considering BBB already released an ad for the shoe with LaMelo in it, they appear to be breaking the rules. This could put the high schooler’s college eligibility at risk.
Why would Lavar put his son in this position? Maybe it’s because he doesn’t think too clearly. For example, he said he could beat NBA legend Michael Jordan one-on-one. He said Lonzo, who hasn’t played an NBA game yet, is better than two-time league MVP Stephen Curry. Nobody takes this guy seriously, but he was a funny victim to joke about for a few months.
I honestly didn’t mind that Lavar Ball. He was a caricature, but he was entertaining. However, after the sneaker news, I have witnessed a new Lavar Ball, and I don’t like what I see.
Here is the part that bothers me. When asked about his son’s eligibility, Lavar said, “He’s going to have a shoe. [The NCAA is] not my boss.” News flash: it’s hard to win a war against the NCAA. Take for example the University of Central Florida’s former kicker, Donald De La Haye, who was deemed ineligible because of money he was receiving from his YouTube channel. NCAA representative Stacey Osburn said this decision was ultimately made by the university, but one can’t help but think the NCAA had some influence. If a YouTube account is enough to warrant ineligibility, a personal shoe line seems like a no-brainer. Lavar Ball has no power, but his arrogance is relentless.
Thus, raises the question, does Lavar have his sons’ best interests in mind? LaMelo is only 16 years old. He is going to follow the path his father wants for him out of respect. But this might not be his best idea. Only great, proven players such as Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Stephen Curry have their own shoes. LaMelo has not proven anything against anybody, but his father expects people to buy his overly expensive shoe, all the while putting his college eligibility at risk?
Lavar Ball thinks he is invincible. He has faced no repercussions for anything he has said, and nobody has held him accountable for his actions. His family is actually being rewarded and praised. They even star in a reality show on Facebook, where the daily lives of the “Balldashians” is shown off.
But the NCAA doesn’t hold back. LaMelo will be punished for his father’s ego. Lavar needs to stay in his lane and realize he is just a washed-up guy who is trying to get fame off his sons’ success. It is pathetic, and he has gone too far.