LaVar Ball stealing the show at Vegas tournaments
LAS VEGAS (AP) — LaVar Ball walked to the scorer’s table, pointed his finger around and asked a question.
“Where are the officials?” he asked. “I need to find the officials.”
Given Ball’s interactions with officials this week in Las Vegas — anywhere, for that matter — it seemed as if more fireworks were in store from the brash coach/famous father/showman.
Instead, Ball offered only praise.
“We should have been over here,” he said after his Big Baller Brand team’s victory at a local high school. “Y’all communicated with us, y’all were good. If you communicate with me, I’m good.”
Communication has not been a problem for Ball since he forced his way into the spotlight.
The father of Los Angeles Lakers rookie guard Lonzo Ball has kept his name in the headlines with a barrage of boastful statements, claiming he could have beaten Michael Jordan one-on-one, his son is a better player than three still-active NBA MVPs and that he would negotiate a $1 billion shoe deal for his three sons.
He’s also appeared shirtless on WWE Raw, came out with a $495 Big Baller Brand basketball shoe and is currently filming a reality TV show about his life.
A polarizing figure, Ball brought his roadshow to Sin City this week for the high school showcase basketball tournaments.
As is usually the case, he is stealing the show.
Top-tier recruits are playing all across the city and coaches from most Division I programs are here to watch them, yet much of the focus is on the big man with the Big Baller Brand.
Ball’s week started on a high note at the Adidas Uprising tournament, with more than 3,000 people showing up at the Cashman Center Wednesday night to see LaVar’s youngest son, LaMelo, face SC Supreme and Zion Williamson, another top-10 recruit.
More than 1,000 people were turned away — LeBron James reportedly among them — and the Las Vegas police department was called to control the crowd.
Numerous NBA players were able to get in and an estimated 80,000 watched a Facebook live stream of the showdown that left even veteran coaches shaking their heads at the spectacle.
“Never seen anything like it,” Kansas coach Bill Self told ESPN.
The Big Ballers lost that game, but the big Ball continued to serve as a basketball pied piper, drawing huge crowds wherever he went as a TV crew documented his every move.
Big Baller Brand won its lone game on Thursday, but Friday brought controversy from the coach.
After receiving a technical foul from a female official in a morning game against Team BBC, Ball demanded she be removed or he would take his team off the floor, as he did in an AAU game earlier this month. After a short delay, tournament organizers decided to replace the official, but Ball was hit with another technical foul by the new official and refused to leave the court after being ejected.
Adidas officials opted to call the game with Team BBC leading 53-43, giving Big Baller Brand a loss. After the game, Ball made comments to ESPN about the female official that were construed to be sexist.
The controversy only seemed to add to the Big Baller fervor.
Fans stood 10 deep to watch Big Baller Brand beat College Bound on a smaller court at Cashman Center Friday night and the stands were close to full at Canyon Springs High school for a win over the Riverside Hawks on Saturday.
Ball was on his best behavior for those two games, barely rising out of his chair during Friday night’s game, getting into a few not-so-heated discussions with officials on Saturday.
“Y’all communicated and I like that,” Ball told the official after Saturday’s game. “You just tech-ing and all that bull----, foul, foul, foul, nobody wants to see that.”
But people sure want to see Ball, for one reason or another.