This past week we learned that 16-year-old LaMelo Ball, the youngest of the three Ball sons, would be getting his own signature shoe, called the MB1, and that it would retail for $395 as part of his dad's Big Baller Brand.
The major question that arises here, besides who the fuck in their right mind would drop $395 for a high school basketball player's signature sneakers, is would those same sneakers cost LaMelo his NCAA eligibility? After all, the NCAA prohibits players from profiting off their likenesses, while the teenage point guard (who ranks as the 15th best player in his class) is already committed to UCLA--even though he won't start college courses for nearly two years.
If you want to know what direction Ball would lean towards, having his own shoes or playing college hoops, there's an easy way to do that, just ask his loud ass dad. That's exactly what ESPN did on Saturday night, as they questioned the family patriarch on which activity takes top priority.
"He's going to have a shoe," LaVar said. "NCAA ain't going to tell me shit. Because they're not my boss. That's what they do, but they're not going to be like, 'Oh, LaVar, you can't bring that shoe out until we tell you.' What? Something that I'm doing for my family? That's mine? I'm not under no umbrella."
He further stated that "They're not going to tell me what I can do for my son and my family. He's not even in the NCAA, and that's the first thing they're coming up with instead of saying, 'Oh, that's a nice shoe. Your dad just gave a shoe to him, a signature shoe that he can play in that's to his specifications.' They're not looking at that part. They're looking at, 'How can we make it negative?' By saying, 'Oh, he's got to be ineligible for that. Gotta be.' No, it never happened before, so what are you saying?"
As for the other side of the debate, an NCAA spokesperson told ESPN's Darren Rovell this past week the following in a statement:
"Generally speaking, a college athlete or prospect paid for use of their athletics reputation or ability risks their future eligibility in that sport. This includes profiting from the sale of items bearing the young person's name. NCAA rules, however, do allow prospects to promote commercial products prior to enrollment, provided it is not for pay."
LaVar says that if LaMelo is deemed ineligible, he'll simply sit out a year or two and train with the goal of making it to the sport's highest level.
"We'll sit out a year or two," he said. "Just get stronger and faster, and then go into [NBA training] camp as a free agent. He already got the narrative -- he can play, he can play. You see what he's doing at 15 and 16. Don't think that by the time he gets 17, 18 that he ain't going to be 10 times better than what he is now. And everybody says, 'Oh, he got to gain more weight.' Why? What you have to do is be strong. It ain't about the weight. It's about the strength."
He also added that they had no interest in the alternative of going overseas to play ball.
As for LaMelo, you know, the person actually in the middle of all of this, he said that he'll worry about it in two years when the decision is ultimately made.