He wants to Make Basketball Great Again.
Loudmouth basketball dad LaVar Ball plans to start his own league called the Junior Basketball Association, according to ESPN. The league, which is still in development, would be for highly touted players out of high school who do not want to play in college.
The JBA would be fully funded by Big Baller Brand, LaVar’s sneaker and apparel company, and would pay players between $3,000 and $10,000 a month, he said. Players would also only be allowed to wear his shoes and uniforms.
Ten teams would try to play games in NBA arenas in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Dallas and Atlanta. The logo will feature a silhouette of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball going up for a dunk.
The eldest Ball, who pulled his two youngest sons out of Chino Hills High School and UCLA recently to play pro ball in Lithuania, told ESPN he’s looking for 80 players to compete in the league.
“Getting these players is going to be easy,” Ball said. “This is giving guys a chance to get a jump start on their career, to be seen by pro scouts, and we’re going to pay them because someone has to pay these kids.”
This is not a novel idea. In response to the NCAA refusing to pay athletes, Tom Brady’s agent Don Yee is planning to launch a semi-pro league for football players who aren’t interested in playing in college. Yee wants to also pay athletes to play during their college-age years and prep them for an NFL career, same as Ball wants to do for basketball players. Yee’s Pacific Pro League is scheduled to begin play next summer.
“They’re being offered a place to go to get better at their craft,” Yee told the Daily News earlier this year. “However, Pacific Pro Football will also encourage them to think about their path in life outside of football.”
Ball, while he is known for saying foolish things, may be onto something.
The college basketball industrial complex has been stained by scandal this year as the government investigates the massive influence sneaker companies have over the game and recruiting. The system is clearly broken as many elite players leave college after one year, just like Ball’s oldest son Lonzo did after one season at UCLA. Players are clearly using schools to get to the NBA, and schools are clearly using players to grow their own brands.
The fact that college players are not paid and are asked to balance school with the demands of being a semi-pro athlete only paints the NCAA in a worse light with schools, coaches and conferences getting rich off what is essentially slave labor.
Ball’s decision to start his own league, he said, was sparked by comments NCAA President Mark Emmert recently made that were critical of Ball’s decision to pull sticky-fingered son LiAngelo out of UCLA while he served a suspension for shoplifting during a team trip to China.
“Is this about someone being part of a university and playing basketball or any other sport with that school’s jersey on representing that institution, or is it about preparing me for my career, my professional career as a ballplayer?” Emmert had asked. “If it’s the latter, you can do that inside a university and that might be a really good way to go. But if you don’t want to and you don’t think that it’s right for your family then don’t come.”
While Ball has refused to thank President Trump for his role in getting LiAngelo Ball home, the Big Baller did say Emmert had a point.
“He was right,” Ball said. “Those kids who are one-and-done, they shouldn’t be there with the NCAA trying to hold them hostage, not allowing them to keep the jersey they wear while selling replicas of them in stores,” Ball said. “So our guy isn’t going to go to Florida State for a year. He’s going to come to our league.”
So now LaVar is taking his ball, and instead of going home, he’s starting a new league for high school grads.