Now that Lonzo Ball is safely on the Lakers, the Lavar Ball media circus has finally started to slow down a bit. A month ago, he was hawking merch and jumping around on WWE Raw; lately, he’s mostly been in the news for an NBA player telling him to fuck off and for throwing a tantrum at his son’s AAU game.
Last night, his Big Baller Brand AAU Team rolled into Las Vegas for their most high-profile game yet against SC Supreme, the team of second-ranked recruit and dunk machine Zion Williamson. As with most LaVar Ball-adjacent things, the basketball being played was somewhat ancillary to the event, and Ball’s showmanship seemed like it took center stage. He boasted about his status as a basketball god-king and claimed that he flipped out and cost his team a win by throwing a fit because the “referees were cheating.”
ESPN reports that the gym was packed to capacity, with 3,000 to 4,000 people in the stands (including Damian Lillard, Andrew Wiggins, Jamal Murray, Thon Maker, and Eric Gordon) and another 1,500 people getting turned away (including LeBron James) to wait outside. Las Vegas police nearly shut the game down because things got too raucous. A Facebook Live broadcast from Ball Is Life has already racked up over 1 million views, and reports from the scene make it seem like Beatlemania.
As tipoff drew closer, the scene got wilder. I watched a group of kids — like 20 or 30 teenagers — completely flip out when they got a glimpse of LaMelo Ball, who was on the second floor with his teammates and isolated from the craziness. The teenagers tried to come up the stairs to take pictures. But they were turned away by Adidas officials. So they were reduced to chanting “Melo! Melo!”
Williamson did several good dunks for his team, which is made up of elite recruits unlike Big Baller, but the highlight of the night seems to be Ball picking up a technical with a minute and change left in the game and stomping off the court, leaving his team rudderless until he came back to the sidelines.
Ball’s opposite spent the game coaching while holding his infant son.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this,” said Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski.
“It reminds me a little bit of LeBron games,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few told ESPN.
“Unreal,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “Never seen anything like it.”
And those were just the ones who made it in the door.
At one point, an officer stepped in and ordered the garage door that separated the lobby from the gym shut. And suddenly what we had was a group of college coaches — Long Beach State’s Dan Monson, Nevada’s Eric Musselman, Saint Mary’s Randy Bennett, etc. — essentially trapped in the lobby. They couldn’t go outside to the parking lot because there were crowds of people blocking the doors. And they couldn’t go inside to the gym because the garage door was shut.
Not that it really matters, but Big Baller lost, 104-92.