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Melo Ball told us he was something different. He doesn’t consider himself a social media star or NBA Star. He’s a movement, an extension of a royal family whose father predicted the success of his kids and forewarned us about his youngest prodigy, similar to how Richard Williams confidently proclaimed his youngest daughter Serena as the alien of tennis. 

The Total Superstar Package 

Lonzo Ball set the tone as far as proving the marketability of the Ball brothers. He had the hype and the co-sign from the Lakers and Magic Johnson, but he didn’t have those transcendent skills.

He’s solid, but he’s not Melo, who is an unadulterated superstar. Where Lonzo seemed to lack confidence early in his career, Melo stepped on the court knowing he was one of the best in the business. 

Sophomore Season Sickness 

The reigning NBA Rookie of the Year arrived at Spectrum Center Arena in downtown Charlotte wearing a neon green suit with a neon green trench coat and driving his matching neon green Lamborghini. 

Ball showed up suited and booted for the Hornets season opener. When the lights came on, the 2020 NBA Draft No.2 overall selection was unstoppable putting in 31 points (11-23 overall and 7-9 from three) to anchor his nine rebounds and seven assists, two steals in a thrilling 123-122 win over the Pacers. 

Last night’s performance was a microcosm of what head coach James Barrego says he’d like to see from his franchise player and lead guard going forward.

Ball was dominant and decisive in everything he did on the floor, and that type of leadership and confidence infused some life into the listless Hornets, which overcame a 16-point halftime deficit (75-59) by outsourcing the Pacers (64-47) in the second half and (33-13) in the big third quarter rally behind a (24-0) run that had fans chanting “MVP” “MVP”  as Ball stepped to the free-throw line. 

Ball was the catalyst behind it all, as he was either “Dropping Dimes’ ‘ or going “Bombs over Baghdad” from deep.

Ball was asked about that moment:

“Yeah definitely, I heard it.” The city turnt. I love it. We’re gonna keep trying to win.”

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MJ’s Prized Disciple 

Melo’s enthusiasm to build small-market Charlotte into a winner is music to the front office’s ears. As he continues to soar past his peers, the possibility of him jumping to a larger market will loom over the franchise. For now, Ball’s embraced Charlotte and playing under the guidance of Michael Jordan is something he hopes to do for a long time.

“You’re supposed to just go to a team and just build from there,” Melo told reporters. “I feel that’s how it should be. “Especially when you like a high pick too, most likely going to a team that wasn’t as good, so you try to make them better. I feel like that’s the whole process right there.”

Head coach James Barrego is pleased with his young star’s maturation and had this to say about it:

“Melo has played off of instinct his whole life. “What makes him special is his feel and instinct, which none of us can teach. Now it’s about raising his basketball IQ, where he’s taking information, processing it, and now applying to an NBA game. That’s his next level. The details of winning an NBA game this season will be more valued through his lens.”

Welcome to The Melo Ball Era. He may not be the guy you wanted, but he’s taking his top spot as if anointed.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.