The Stakes Are High For LaMelo And LiAngelo Ball Going Overseas

People have been losing their ever-loving minds over LaVar Ball’s antics from the moment that his golden child Lonzo stepped foot onto the UCLA campus. 

And in one year’s time, after Lonzo played spectacularly during his freshman year with the Bruins and parlayed his potential as a game-changing floor general into becoming the #2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, LaVar has simultaneously morphed into an emerging business tycoon, buffoon, goon, father of the year or a man inebriated by reality TV’s celebrity monsoon, depending on one’s point of view.

Most Exciting Player in College Basketball || UCLA PG Lonzo Ball 2016-17 Highlights

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With his latest move, where he orchestrated the signings of his younger sons LiAngelo and LaMelo to the Prienu Vytautas club in the Lithuanian pro league (LKL) to one-year deals, LaVar has pushed many of his detractors to the point of being apoplectic.

“What has this fool gotten his kids into?”

“This is a suicide mission!”

“LaVar is the worst sports father ever, exploiting his kids at no cost.”

“I feel bad for those kids. Their father is an egomaniacal idiot who has ruined the younger ones. They should have stayed in school, gone to college and earned a degree in case the NBA doesn’t work out.”

Big Baller Brand on Twitter

It’s not about the money for the Ball Brothers. They have a passion to play Basketball and to experience playing as pros was the Goal. They have accomplished this mission and are excited to be playing on the same team to top it off. The Big Baller way!

Those are all some derivations of statements I’ve heard over the last few days, with very few in support of the move. 

There’s one thing you can say about LaVar, the man is always on the offensive, keeping everyone guessing  about his motives, his next moves and what type of alternate universe his mind operates in. 

Regardless of how you feel about him and his media persona, we can honestly say that whatever he did with Lonzo, he got that right. Despite his struggles with shooting the long-range jumper, that kid can play. 

Less than two years removed from high school, Lonzo’s ability to rebound, orchestrate and distribute on the NBA level is unquestionable. He’s got plenty of work to do in terms of his aggression and efficiency, but anyone that’s laughing at him, calling him a bust, doesn’t know a damn thing about the game and what they’re seeing. 

His vision and understanding of pace and space is beyond exceptional. And if you think he’s soft, watch him bang down low, skinny frame and all, and observe the latent toughness in grabbing those boards. 

He is indeed a work-in-progress, but anyone who understands the game beyond highlights and dunks will tell you that Lonzo is legit. And as Shalamar once had said, you can take that to the bank!

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Los Angeles Lakers point guard and rookie Lonzo Ball gets his 1st career triple double, with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists. He becomes the youngest player in NBA history (20 years, 15 days) to get a triple-double.

LaVar is many things, but if you truly want to examine the man, among all of the negative perceptions one might harbor, you better call the man a visionary. 

Despite people slinging arrows at the Big Baller Brand, the concept instituted a paradigm shift. They bypassed the long-held business model of a standard rookie shoe deal in favor of a creative new ownership model.

He took things further when LaMelo was given his own signature shoe while in high school. Folks went berserk behind that one, claiming foul. But the only thing foul about it, when fully examined, was how the sneaker companies spend millions to adorn prep phenoms with their logos, using them as human billboards to push product without any compensation. 

And speaking of no compensation, the NCAA was rumbling about the kid not being eligible possibly for college hoops because of it. Which is the ultimate irony in that the NCAA makes Billions (with a capital B!!!) off of exploiting kids with their own television deals, while the individual schools profit handsomely with their own arrangements with the likes of adidas, Nike and Under Armour. 

And yet, if the athlete is given an extra cheeseburger, he gets tagged as being some sort of criminal for receiving extra benefits. But in actuality, it’s the NCAA and individual universities that get all the extra benefits while they keep the kids under strict cost-control within the guise of amateurism.

Chino Hills CRAZY SHOW Continues! FULL Highlights! LaMelo Ball Halfcourt Shot! LiAngelo SCORES 65!

Chino Hills won their 47th straight game tonight against Foothill to kick off the 2016 Rancho Mirage Holiday Invitational! Onyeka Okongwu and Eli Scott set the tone for the game with some HUGE basketball plays especially on the defensive end, while LaMelo Ball and LiAngelo shouldered the scoring load once again.

But there ain’t nothing amateur about elite high school hoops and college basketball. And LaVar not only knew this, but he exposed it by trying to get his kids there deserved slice of the pie, basically telling the whole antiquated apparatus, “Aw hell to the naw!!!”

And now that he’s pulled Melo out of high school and Gelo out of UCLA, directing them towards the lower rungs of pro ball overseas, the chorus of people losing their minds has reached a fever pitch.

But wait, where was all of this noise when tennis phenom Anna Kournikova signed a management deal at age ten and went to Bradenton, Florida, to train at Nick Bollettieri’s tennis academy, later debuting as a pro at the age of 14?

As it relates to Gelo leaving UCLA, where was the outrage when Tamir Goodman, aka The Jewish Jordan, left Towson University after his freshman year, after a dispute with the school’s new coach, to play ball in Israel before what was supposed to be a certain NBA career? 

The NBA dream never materialized for Goodman, and championship stardom eluded Kournikova, though she got paid in full.  The point here is that they were allowed the freedom to do things differently without the convoluted despair that there lives were being ruined.

LiAngelo is not an NBA prospect right now, which people are pointing out. 

“It’s absurd to do this to him, when he should just be happy to serve out his indefinite suspension,” folks are saying. 

But LaVar has made no bones about the fact that the Ball boys ain’t in this thing for a college education, they’re in it for a basketball education. At least he’s honest enough to admit what most of the people who profit from AAU and college basketball won’t.

LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball are Officially Professional Basketball Players. Both Ball Brothers have signed to play for Club “Prienai” in Lithuania. It’s not about the money for the Ball Brothers. They have a passion to play Basketball and to experience playing as pros was the Goal. They have accomplished this mission and are excited to be playing on the same team to top it off. The Big Baller way! #BBB #Familyfirst #builtforthis

150.4k Likes, 3,366 Comments – Big Baller Brand (@bigballerbrand) on Instagram: “LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball are Officially Professional Basketball Players. Both Ball Brothers have…”

Gelo might not be on the NBA radar right now, but neither was Jeremy Lin, Chucky Atkins, Raja Bell, Bruce Bowen, Wes Matthews, Darrell Armstrong, John Starks, Avery Johnson and Ben Wallace once upon a time. 

If LaVar felt that they’d be wasting a year of development at UCLA, and then another while sitting out a transfer year,  then why not make this move and get some real experience playing against grown men.

Some are already calling the move a disaster. I’ll reserve judgment for now.

Ben Brust on Twitter

The Ball’s to Lithuania is a disaster waiting to happen (I played there for a year and hated it). This is a picture of the teams gym that the Ball brothers would play at. Not exactly BIG BALLER material #BBB

In terms of the traditional NBA development of a prospect, this is unchartered territory. 

Brandon Jennings and Emmanuel Mudiay went overseas after high school when they were already headed to the NBA Draft Lottery after their sabbatical. They went to top teams and made good money while biding their time. So bringing up their names in this debate is foolish. This is something entirely different, something that’s never been done before.

Through the lens of simply hoops, Prienu Vytautas plays a run-and-gun style and shoots the 3 at a ravenous pace, which works in Melo and Gelo’s favor. If you’ve been watching the Warriors and the Rockets, that’s that flavor that the NBA savors. If they can adjust to the foreign environment, put in the hard work, show a sincerity in learning from the coaching staff, then the basketball piece alone might be worth the year over there.

Lithuania is a basketball-crazed country. The players over pride themselves on their hunger, hoops intelligence, feel for the game and work ethic. And despite the circus-like atmosphere, the Ball brothers didn’t get to where they are by accident. They’ve put in work over the years. Now it’s time to see if the gamble pays off.

This move isn’t about right now, it’s the first step for what will happen three years from now when Melo is eligible for the NBA Draft. It could very well be a disaster, or it could pay off handsomely. 

Either way, in the true Big Baller way, ready or not, here they come. The risks are abundant, but the rewards could ultimately give LaVar and his kids the last laugh.

Big Baller Brand’s LaVar, Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball at NYC pop-up shop | ESPN

Big Baller Brand’s LaVar, Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball at NYC pop-up shop.

Just because something is done differently and out of the box doesn’t necessarily make it wrong. Ya’ll didn’t lose your minds when Anna Kournikova turned pro at 14, or when Tamir Goodman went overseas to play pro ball after his freshman year in college.

So why are you losing your minds now. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. 

Reality TV ain’t never seen a basketball story like this. Good, bad or indifferent, you have to admire LaVar for challenging the status quo, changing the paradigm and upsetting the apple cart.

If those kids want a college education once basketball ends, that will always be there, so folks need to kill that holier than thou noise.

At the very worst, LaVar is Joe Jackson , yelling, “Melo! Gelo! Who left the towel in the swimming pool??? you gonna get a beatin’!!!” 

Well, really, at worst he could be the New Jack Marv Marinovich, but I just love the visual of LaVar with a jherri curl Afro screaming, “”Melo! Gelo! Who left the towel in the swimming pool??? you gonna get a beatin’!!!” 

the jacksons american dream- towel in the swimming pool

Uploaded by navy4181 on 2011-03-30.

Somewhere in the middle, he’s the male version of Kris Jenner, the architect of a televised car crash that will cumulatively earn billions before it’s all said and done. And at the very best, he’s Richard Williams and Earl Woods, men who willed their prodigies through unorthodox methods toward wealth and greatness.

Whichever way the cookie crumbles, there ain’t no reason to be mad at the man. Because outside of the pandemonium, bluster and hullabaloo, there’s a fascinating study developing here. And no one, in the grand scheme of things is getting hurt one bit. 

Except for folks who are all in their feelings. 

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