LaVar Ball ended our long, national nightmare by releasing his sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, from their Facebook-branded exile in Lithuania and telling organized basketball as we know it to fornicate itself by starting his own alternative to the NCAA; the Junior Basketball Association. One look at the JBA’s Wikipedia page is probably enough to answer any and all questions you may have about the validity of the organization:
But in case you thought it might somehow be legit, there’s also this:
LiAngelo Ball, the UCLA washout the Lakers told in no uncertain terms would not be part of their Summer League team, recorded a 53-point triple-double in his first game as a Los Angeles Baller. He paired with little brother LaMelo, who had an absurd triple-double of his own, to combine for 82 points, 27 rebounds, and 29 assists. That was bad news for the Philadelphia, uh, Ballers, who lost 171-140 since the JBL is just modified Slamball from what I can tell.
With way rougher coaches:
Coaching in the JBA. This is wild. I’m not surprised. This is probably how professional basketball looked in the 70s pic.twitter.com/ceiD9PUYyW— Ry (@JustRyCole) July 13, 2018
The JBA hasn’t yet posted a box score from Thursday’s game, so it’s not yet known how many shots the Balls took compared to the rest of their team, but a LiAngelo-heavy stunt wouldn’t be foreign territory for LaVar. He’d previously scheduled a series of exhibition games against low-level Lithuanian clubs to capitalize on his son’s much-ignored declaration for the 2018 NBA Draft, culminating in a 72-point performance that, while impressive on paper, was ultimately meaningless. He’d go unselected at the draft and unwanted as an undrafted free agent when NBA teams sorted out their Summer League squads.
While LiAngelo’s road to the NBA winds through a series of roadblocks the size of the Himalayas, LaMelo has a more realistic career path. The youngest Ball was considered a blue chip prospect who showed off enough talent to commit to UCLA as a 13-year-old, and he could be a viable prospect as he grows. It’s unclear, however, how playing in Lithuania and the JBA will affect his development compared to more traditional routes like AAU ball, spending a year with a college team, or even finding a more competitive overseas club to help groom him.
For now, LaMelo is a Baller, dishing passes in an effort to help the older brother no NBA team wants to look better. The plan at the end of the JBA season, which culminates when the Ballers beat the Ballers for the league title, is to take 2018’s top 10 players overseas for another barnstorming tour, a la LaVar’s recent run through Lithuania. There will be plenty of talent on that team. There will also, undoubtedly, be two Ball brothers.