Anti-Trumper LaVar Ball’s Personal Brand Takes a Huge Hit

Dec 15, 2017 by

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Father of three basketball players has history of outrageous comments about Trump — and his latest actions could take him right out of the game

by Tom Joyce

It’s no secret basketball father LaVar Ball loves the spotlight — but his latest dribble could take him right off the court.

Ball’s two younger sons, 16-year-old LaMelo and 19-year-old LiAngelo, are headed to the city of Prienai, Lithuania, to play for the Prienu Vytautas of the Lithuanian Basketball League (LBL). His older son, of course, is Lonzo Ball of the Los Angeles Lakers — so all three of the man’s sons will now be pro basketball players. But this does not help LaVar’s personal brand.

Known for his brash predictions and outlandish behavior, LaVar Ball once said that all three of his sons would be one-and-done college basketball players, meaning they would go to college for one year and then be drafted by an NBA team. While this was true for Lonzo, it is not for either of the other two sons. LiAngelo was kicked out of UCLA for theft — and by playing for a pro-team, he and LaMelo lose their NCAA eligibility.

Sure, there are quality basketball teams overseas — specifically in the Euroleague — but one would be hard-pressed to find quality competition in Lithuania. It is a small country of less than three million inhabitants; the average person earns about $12,000 a year, according to Trading Economics. ESPN ranks the LBL as the 10th best pro-basketball league in Europe, meaning there are several more competitive leagues the Balls could have played in that are not the NBA.

In general, the league in Lithuania has produced virtually no NBA talent. It reportedly struggles financially and does not play in the best venues.

The decision to move the two young athletes to Europe was made by — LaVar Ball. When talking to Bleacher Report about his father’s actions, LiAngelo said, “He knows what he’s doing, so I just trust the process.”

Once again, LaVar comes across as someone who is making all of his children’s life decisions. He decided LaMelo would be home-schooled this year — then shipped him and LiAngelo off to Europe. LaVar also told the Boston Celtics earlier this year he would prefer they not draft his son, according to Bleacher Report.

Even if the move to Lithuania does work out for the Ball family, LaVar’s personal opportunity to market himself will be limited.

The majority of Lithuanian citizens do not speak English; the county has its own native basketball players to support. That said, Ball likely will not be a media attraction in Lithuania, and, even if he were, few Lithuanians could afford the $500 shoes he sells on his Big Baller Brand site.

Also, how will the Ball children adapt to a new culture and to a team with a coach who, according to Draft Express, does not speak any English? Despite the relatively low skill level of the league, the Balls will be competing against players who are several years older than they are. This, too, could lead them to struggle. If this is the case and they were to abandon the league midseason — they could essentially destroy their chances of ever playing in the NBA.

The Lakers are limiting LaVar Ball’s potential media hogging in order to keep the focus on the players.

Sure, he has one son playing in the NBA right now, but LaVar’s influence is shrinking. This month, the Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers, began enforcing what is now known as the “LaVar Ball Rule,” according to ESPN. The rule prevents members of the media from entering a part of the arena reserved for guests of the players. Hence, the Lakers are limiting LaVar Ball’s potential media hogging in order to keep the focus on the players on the court — and off him.

Given all of this, the LaVar Ball “game” could end far more quickly than expected.

Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets.

Source: Anti-Trumper LaVar Ball’s Personal Brand Takes a Huge Hit

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