Where should I start?
I do not agree with Lavar Ball’s decision to pull his middle son, LiAngelo, out of UCLA. If you missed it, LiAngelo was involved in a highly publicized incident in China that resulted in the arrest of him and two other UCLA players for theft from a handful of high-end stores during the UCLA men’s basketball team’s trip overseas for a game.
Lavar called the incident “not a big deal” from the time the news broke and I would be a liar if I said a part of me didn’t agree with his sentiment. Don’t get me wrong, I know theft should not be condoned or accepted, but I fully believe if it was another UCLA student or happened on American soil, it would not have been a big deal.
The fact that neither of those were the case leads me to why I disagree with Lavar pulling his son from the university. The coach set the punishment – and indefinite suspension – and Lavar said the punishment was too harsh.
I don’t believe, like other people, that LiAngelo should have been kicked out of the university or the team, but a suspension until the start of conference play (about 12 games) seemed a little too harsh, in my opinion. However, given the circumstances and personality involved, a harsher than normal punishment was warranted.
I’m a firm believer that once you reach a certain place in society, you have to be more conscious about what you do and say. It’s not fair, but it’s life, and LiAngelo needed that lesson, in my opinion.
Lavar’s actions, on the other hand, undermined the coach and university, which is unacceptable, especially since his son’s actions took away from the team.
Now, LiAngelo and his younger brother, LaMelo, 16, have signed with a professional basketball team in Lithuania – foregoing their amateur status and ability to play college basketball.
I think the move could have a big payoff for LaMelo in the future simply because overseas basketball could teach him to have a complete basketball game, rather than a watered down rendition that has become popular in America.
Aside from that, it’s a terrible move, in my opinion. It’s the epitome of “I’m taking my ball and going home.” Lavar withdrew LiAngelo because he did not like the coach’s decision after he, essentially, got a coach fired from LaMelo’s former high school.
At some point, the Ball brother and Lavar will face something they can’t run from or control, like the Los Angeles Lakers. Lavar may have influence on many things, but he has zero influence on the Lakers, head coach Luke Walton and Magic Johnson, Lakers president of basketball operations.
It’s still too early to see how this story ends, but for now, let’s enjoy the Ball circus.
Xavier Smith is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @wilsonnewswritr.