There are times—yes, there are—when LaVar Ball is right. Often he is a grandstanding buffoon who gets the benefit of the doubt for drumming up attention for his sons, without any particular concern for whether his sons much want that attention, and with even less concern for whether the gains earned by that attention are, in fact, the kind of thing that a healthy community of people would celebrate all that much.
But! Sometimes LaVar Ball is right, and this is one of those times. Not about constructing a signature shoe with his 16-year-old son’s name on it, that can be sold to absolute marks for $400 a pair, but for not giving the remotest shit whether the completely fucking crooked and bogus NCAA would consider such an act a violation of their garbage eligibility standards. From an ESPN report:
“He’s going to have a shoe,” LaVar said Saturday night during his son’s 16th birthday party, held at an event space at the Chino Airport. “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.”
“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?”
Let’s be clear about something: when you take up the LaVar Ball flag, you are taking up incredibly brazen nightmare-sports-parenting. You are also making the mistake of assuming that the Ball sons are good at basketball because their dad is an overbearing nightmare of a sports parent, which ignores the fact that there are thousands and thousands of overbearing nightmare sports parents, the vast, overwhelming majority of whom will not raise successful professional athletes. You are also making the mistake of applauding someone for marketing their own children in order to sell $500 sneakers, a level of depravity that even Phil Knight never exactly reached, on either end. You are also failing to recognize that saddling your children with your outlandish behavior as a condition of their professional advancement is the same unbelievably unfair bargain made by the parents of, you know, Lindsay Lohan. No. Do not take up the LaVar Ball flag. LaVar Ball is an asshole. That someday he will be rich beyond my wildest imagination does not excuse his behavior—it speaks to the basketball talent of at least one of his children, and indicts our deranged culture.
Still. About this much LaVar Ball is absolutely, 100 percent right: the NCAA is a fucking cartel, and they have no business whatsoever telling someone that they can’t monetize their talents when the entire function of their organization is to monetize that person’s talents, to the NCAA’s exclusive gain. Fuck them. There are all sorts of reasons why no person should ever spend $400 on goddamn LaMelo Ball shoes, but the NCAA operating the NBA’s preferred minor league exclusively on unpaid labor, and masking it as amateurism, should absolutely not be one of them. LaVar Ball gets at least a fist pump for calling them on their hogwash.