LaVar Ball says he could have beaten Michael Jordan back in the day An — United Black Books
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LaVar Ball says he could have beaten Michael Jordan back in the day And he wants a $1 billion endorsement contract for his sons

SC Featured: Ball brothers looking to change basketball

Don’t ever accuse LaVar Ball of not aiming high. The father of UCLA’s Lonzo Ball has made his presence felt in recent weeks, and this time he’s set an asking price for his sons’ sneaker deal: $1 billion. Somehow, this is the least outlandish thing he’s said all year.

There was the initial declaration that his son, Lonzo, only had plans to play one year before going pro, an awfully bold comment for a sport where fate and futures can turn on a dime. Then, he claimed that Lonzo was better than Stephen Curry. He famously declared that Lonzo would only be playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. Following that, he got into a public spat with Charles Barkley, a feud that felt like two uncles arguing at the cookout. Most recently, he claimed that he himself was a better basketball player than Michael Jordan back in his day, which is laughable.

The apparel contract stuff is real business, though. For his three sons: Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo, he’s asking for the 10-figure number from one of the big companies and says that if they don’t get it, they’ll start their own. Some have speculated that his loud antics could potentially hurt his sons’ future college or pro careers. LaVar himself says he’s not doing anything more than protecting his kids from exploitation. His approach brings to mind two other patron saints of black sports parenting, Earl Woods and Richard Williams.

Woods was known for his driving style on Tiger, who eventually grew up to revolutionize the golf world. Williams was even more maligned, as he was coaching and raising not one, but two girls in Venus and Serena, who’d eventually become the two most popular tennis players on earth by a wide margin. In short, the methods to their madness were effective.

But the Balls are in a different situation. For one, they’re playing basketball, a sport that’s already undergone its cultural boom for the most part. We’re not talking about primarily country-club sports that for various socioeconomic and cultural reasons had not accepted brown faces for the most part. It’s basketball. At this point, Lonzo is just another kid who might go No. 1 overall in the NBA draft, while LaMelo, the youngest is not bolstering his reputation by scoring 92 points in high school game under questionable circumstances. Of course, there’s also LiAngelo, the forgotten Ball.

But if his three sons turn out to be something like Tiger Woods, Venus and Serena Williams and, say, LeBron James combined, then that $1 billion number isn’t that outlandish. People are already saying that Lonzo is the second coming of Magic Johnson, which on its own, if true, makes his starting point in negotiations understandable. Ultimately, that’s the issue — there’s no way to know if that’ll be the case.

Don’t expect LaVar to back down. You might poke fun at the way he operates, including down to the way he named his kids, but he’s just continuing a family tradition. His own brothers are named LaFrance, LaValle, LaRenzo and LaShon. He won’t be backing down just because a couple of people think he’s too loud. At 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, I’m not sure a lot people are going to be able to make him do so, either.

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