Like him, love him, or hate him, LaVar Ball is a master marketer and a devoted dad. His sons’ successes are largely due to his personal investment in their growth and development as athletes and young men. But Ball is facing intense scrutiny once again for taking son LiAngelo out of UCLA to prepare him for the pros.
He told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that the university’s decision to suspend LiAngelo and his two teammates indefinitely, after Chinese authorities had already dropped charges of shoplifting against them, was unfair. Ball refuses to let the school rob his son of the opportunity to pursue his dreams because of one mistake.
“That’s one of the main reasons he went to UCLA is to play basketball,” Ball told Cuomo. “That’s his passion. And for them to prolong this and go on and on, it’s ridiculous to me.”
Since returning to school, LiAngelo has reportedly been a model student. UCLA coach Steve Alford told ESPN on Tuesday that he wasn’t angry, rather he was “surprised” at Ball’s decision to pull LiAngelo out of school.
“LiAngelo has been, since coming back [from China], he’s been tremendously,” Alford said. “He’s been to all of his classes, he’s been to all the tutors, all the mentors. He’s done exactly what’s been asked of him.”
Ball said that placing his son on an indefinite suspension thwarts his plans for LiAngelo. They only intended to play for the Bruins for one year and then prepare for the NBA draft. The protective father is considering other options for LiAngelo including overseas play. Missing two to three months or more of playing time with UCLA will hurt his chances significantly of pursuing a professional carer. Collegiate play is no longer an option.
“He’s not transferring to another school,” Ball told ESPN. “The plan is now to get Gelo ready for the NBA Draft.”
While Cuomo, Stephen A. Hill, Cris Carter, and other sports talking heads have been highly critical of Ball’s decisions regarding his sons, former UCLA player, NBA player, and Phoenix Suns head coach earl Watson defends him and even called him a “genius” on Fox’s Undisputed with Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe.
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) December 5, 2017
“I think he’s a genius,” Watson told Bayless. “I think what he’s doing, he understands Gelo at UCLA for three or four years will not get drafted. If you’re going to take your shot, you take it now. You take it as soon as possible, but you make moves to make sure your son gets the best chance possible. You can’t fault LaVar for being strategic. You can’t fault LaVar for creating a business in a collegiate business game. You can’t fault him for that.”