LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball have both signed with the Lithuanian basketball club Vytautas. Supposedly reporting to the club in early January.
So my first reaction was that LaVarr Ball is insane, and this is going to ruin his kid’s lives. Yet the more I think about it, the more I start to think that it’s an extremely shrewd move.
Why is this possibly brilliant? So at first, I was looking at it from the boys perspective. They are young and probably a little entitled. Dad is off making a name for the family and in the process turns them into celebrities. But to quote Jay-Z “Along with celebrity comes about 70 shots to your frame.” Lonzo earned the celebrity he got, he was talented enough to be the #2 overall pick in the draft. The other kids got an unearned celebrity. This can be a bad thing for a young kid. You start having everyone telling you how great you are and lose sight of the work it takes to get to where your brother got.
In LA with a bit of fame, those Ball boys are libel to get into all kinds of trouble. Not only that when they play basketball they are a target, they have guys chirping them constantly about their dad and his antics. So what if LaVarr is thinking to get them out of LA before they end up in rehab. What if he is sending them to “Basketball Boarding School?” What if that is how he is looking at this deal with Vytautas? From that perspective, this could be brilliant. You keep them away from bad influences at home. Teach them what it means to be a professional player as a full-time job. Expand the Big Baller Brand into Eastern Europe in the bargain. At UCLA what are they doing but preparing for a basketball career? It’s possible that it will be better for both of them to do it out of the spotlight many time zones away. Even if this is just a big publicity stunt and the boys never play, it’s still an apprenticeship in basketball, they can still learn from it.
The other thing that could happen is that this doesn’t last. The boys hate it and feel homesick. They mentally check out. They are home before the end of March. I’m by no means a LaVarr ball fan, but I’m rooting for his kids to do well. They seem a lot more reserved than Dad.