There are some things that will never change. The sun will rise in the East and set in the West. The spring performances of prep basketball and football stars will be blown out of proportion because of the competition and extra sets of eyes. And, perhaps most assuredly, LaVar Ball will find a way to hate the person coaching his sons.
The latest iteration of Ball v. Man with Whistle has preceded the departure of his sons from professional basketball in Europe. What was long ago seen as a dog and pony brand-building promotional expedition for Big Baller Brand, the Ball family’s Lithuanian adventure is set to expire after a noted Lithuanian basketball journalist reported that Ball told him he was pulling LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball out of their roles with BC Vytautas, where they have been playing since January.
The move isn’t a particularly surprising one given each player’s status. LiAngelo is nursing an ankle injury which is likely to keep him off the court for the remainder of the Lithuanian season. His younger brother, LaMelo, has struggled to get any game time with the senior team, leaving him to generate the occasionally jaw-dropping highlight on the team’s junior squad, a far cry from professional American basketball. In short, there isn’t a lot keeping the Balls in Lithuania unless they planned on keeping LaMelo in the system next year.
LaVar made it clear that wouldn’t be happening, and in doing so confirmed the most predictable piece of news in the 2018 calendar year: LaVar doesn’t like the BC Vytautas coach.
We know, you’re shocked. We were too. Who could have seen an egomaniacal middle-aged man using his sons to build a consumer brand business disagreeing with a cosmopolitan European coach who also sells meat out of the back of his truck/van.
Wait, that’s right. Anyone could have seen it coming because it’s literally what LaVar has done at every step of his family’s development. To whit:
— 2015-16: LaVar complains about Chino Hills coach Steve Baik, despite team winning Super 25 national title and Lonzo Ball earning All-USA Player of the Year. Baik later resigns position to accept a head coaching role at Fairfax High in Los Angeles.
— 2016-17: LaVar complains about Chino Hills coach Stephan Galling, who departs after the season while noting the rift. In the summer after LaMelo’s sophomore season, LaVar takes over coaching duties of his own AAU squad, exerting direct influence over his sons’ positions and playing time on the court.
— 2017-18: LaVar complains aggressively about coach Dennis Lattimore before the season even starts, eventually deciding to withdraw LaMelo before he worked with Lattimore.
— 2017-18: After arriving in Lithuania for LiAngelo and LaMelo to play for BC Vytautas, LaVar continually criticizes Virginijus Šeškus, accusing him of an agenda against the Ball brothers in limiting their playing time. At one point Ball takes over coaching duties for the junior team in a special one-off Big Baller Brand tournament. He eventually decides to withdraw his sons from their overseas contracts just two weeks before the end of the Lithuanian season, with BC Vytautas still fighting against relegation from the top league.
There are a number of things that could emerge as true surprises in the next steps for the younger Ball brothers. Barring a truly historic performance at the NBA Draft combine, LiAngelo Ball seems unlikely to be selected in the 2018 NBA Draft. LaMelo can’t go back to CIF competition in California public schools but still has two years before he’s eligible to enter the NBA Draft. He could play in the Balls’ semipro league, or he could, well, maybe he could do something else? We’re really not sure here.
Yet the only thing that seems relatively certain is that LaVar Ball will find something wrong with the coach wherever LiAngelo and LaMelo end up next. Just ask Luke Walton.
(Lithuania highlights via itsOvertime.com)