Colleges, athletic apparel companies, and the NBA have been benefitting from the ostensibly free labor of prospective professional athletes for decades, but these athletes apparently have a champion here to make sure they get their due: LaVar Ball.
Ball hopes to start the Junior Basketball Association, an alternative to college for high school graduates who hope to pursue a professional basketball career.
“Getting these players is going to be easy,” Ball said Wednesday, according to ESPN. “This is giving guys a chance to get a jump start on their career, to be seen by pro scouts, and we’re going to pay them because someone has to pay these kids.”
The ever-present father of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball indicated players would be paid anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 a month, depending on skill, and the teams would compete with NBA rules in NBA arenas in Los Angeles, Dallas, Brooklyn, and Atlanta, though he admitted no venues have been rented yet. There’s also another matter: He doesn’t yet have any players.
Ball said he was inspired by something NCAA president Mark Emmert said at a SportsBusiness Journal conference just days after the sports dad pulled middle son LiAngelo out of UCLA.
“Is this about someone being part of a university and playing basketball or any other sport with that school’s jersey on, representing that institution, or is it about preparing me for my career, my professional career as a ballplayer?” Emmert said when asked if LaVar is good or bad for college basketball. “If it’s the latter, you can do that inside a university and that might be a really good way to go. But if you don’t want to and you don’t think that it’s right for your family, then don’t come.”
“He was right,” Ball said. “Those kids who are one-and-done, they shouldn’t be there with the NCAA trying to hold them hostage, not allowing them to keep the jersey they wear while selling replicas of them in stores. So our guy isn’t going to go to Florida State for a year. He’s going to come to our league.”
Because Ball’s Big Baller Brand would be promoting the Junior Basketball Association, players would probably where BBB shoes and uniforms.
If Ball wants to get this not-so-terrible idea off the ground, he’d better do it fast—NBA commissioner Adam Silver mentioned in November that he’s considering eliminating the league’s one-and-done rule, which prevents players from entering the NBA draft without having graduated high school a year prior or played a season professionally in another league.