UCLA basketball got exactly what it wanted from the Ball family


After an appearance in an exhibition game and an international incident, it seems that the LiAngelo Ball era at UCLA has come to an abrupt close.

In several interviews with several national media on Monday, LaVar Ball revealed that he was removing his son from the middle of the UCLA basketball team and withdrawing him from the university. LiAngelo Ball had been suspended indefinitely since he and two first-year teammates were caught stealing in stores during UCLA's trip to China last month. The incident reached international headlines and resulted in a public war of words between the patriarch of the Ball family and the president of the United States.

This was the second time in 2017 that LaVar Ball has abruptly removed one of its children from school.

In October, LaVar announced that his youngest son, LaMelo Ball, 16, was being removed from Chino Hills High School and would be educated at home. According to reports, LaVar had problems with Dennis Latimore, basketball coach of Chino Hills freshmen, who had not yet coached his first official practice at the school. It was also revealed that LaMelo, one of the best players of the clbad of 2019, received his own exclusive shoe through the "Big Baller Brand" of LaVar, becoming the first player of 16 years to own such distinction.

On Monday night, Yahoo reported that options were being explored to send LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball overseas to begin their professional careers. Essentially, the turbulent relationship between the Ball family and UCLA has come to an end years earlier than the pair originally intended.

That's probably good for everyone in Westwood.

The relationship between the Balls and UCLA, which officially came into effect in January 2014, was always mainly about Lonzo Ball. The five-star virtuoso shipowner was destined for greatness, regardless of where he played in college and no matter how absurdly one of his legal guardians chose to behave. He was the kind of player who could transform UCLA basketball, even if he was just a Bruin for a season.

The transformation is exactly what happened last winter.

With Lonzo leading the way, the 2016-17 UCLA Bruins went from a 15-17 team that was so bad the previous season that head coach Steve Alford paid a portion of his compensation, to one that was among the most talented and elite throughout the country. The Bruins' accelerated pace thrilled the crowd, averaging more points per game than all teams except one in Division I, and finally gained a third position and advanced to the Sweet 16 tournament of the NCAA tournament.

Perhaps as important as the 31 victories, the presence of Lonzo Ball at UCLA made the Bruins cool again. He justified that Under Armor gave the school the best handkerchief of all time, and restored the faith of the Alford fans and the direction of the proud program. So, if LiAngelo Ball, generously qualified as a three-star prospect, and LaMelo Ball, who committed to UCLA as a 13-year-old seventh grader, they also had to accompany him, so be it. In the grand scheme of things, everything was a small price to pay for Lonzo's only season. Or so it seemed at that moment.

LaVar Ball was always going to be a distraction, but it was manageable for UCLA when Lonzo was the son in question. With LiAngelo, things were going to be more difficult. Play the child too much, and it can cost him the chemistry of the team or even a couple of wins. Do not play with him enough, and be prepared to see his father's criticism as the main story on his ESPN shouting program on the other the next morning. It would be hard to blame Alford, and anyone else caught in the situation, for looking for a way out.

Now you do not have to.

The Scouts seem to be somewhat divided in the state of LaMelo Ball as a legitimate prospect of the NBA. He can become a good player, but the likelihood of his evolving into a player of the caliber of his older brother was always a remote possibility. And even if such an evolution occurs, it probably would not be positive enough to overcome the negative of a father whose redeeming qualities become increasingly difficult to find every time a national incumbent becomes.

Lonzo Ball is a billionaire who could be one of the 15 most famous players in the NBA, and part of the credit for that certainly belongs to his father. Having said that, the first part of that state would probably have been true if you or I raised the child. The second part may have come true in due time.

The two younger Ball brothers will probably have money regardless of what they do with the rest of their lives. If what you want to do in the immediate future is play basketball and put yourself in a position where you can succeed, then it is difficult to see how your father's actions in recent months have helped make that reality more likely.

The Ball brothers have always seemed nice enough. Outside LiAngelo's problems abroad, there have been no great accusations of nefarious behavior imposed against them. They play an entertaining basketball style that requires equal parts of effort and panache. They also have what Russell Hammond would call "the buzz". The rumor is good. But when a noise louder than a buzz is amplified in the same way over and over again, it eventually drowns out everything around it and removes those things from its value. Having the buzz is no longer worth it.

Out of a few farewell shots, noise is no longer UCLA's problem.

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