Ball Pressure: How LaVar Applied His Force To The NBA
On Oct. 18, 2018, the NBA looked itself in the mirror, did a double take and finally realized the idiocracy that is the one-and-done rule. It’s rare to see a billion dollar corporation go through a humanly process to understand the errors of its ways but we’re finally here, folks. After instituting the one-and-done rule which required players to be at least one year removed from high school, somewhat forcing them to either attend college for a semester or go play overseas before declaring for the NBA Draft, the league decided to give into the pressure by altering the format of the G-League and creating a “professional path” which allows elite prospects a 125k alternative to the college route.
This is my favorite part of the writing process. The one in which I get to gloat about being right about something I’ve been ridiculed over for years. The NBA didn’t feel pressure from its fan base. It didn’t feel pressure from the players per se. The feeling of duress came from a rather boisterous fellow. A man so confident in his approach, every sports media outlet clung to him like syrup on chicken, hanging on to his every word, no matter how outlandish his proclamations may seem. A man who has been ridiculed by a majority of the world for having the utmost confidence in his children and not being afraid to voice his opinions and forge a path on matters that pertain them. LaVar Ball took his large ass Big Baller Brand shoe, put it on the NCAAs/NBA’s throat and made them squirm until they finally figured out a better approach.
By creating the JBA, Ball offered an alternative to the low-paying/mentally draining lifestyle that WAS the G-League, the corruption of the NCAA and the inherent social disadvantages that come with being a teenager starting a professional career overseas. He created a system that allowed teenagers who may not have been academically eligible, just weren’t interested in taking classes in some major they’d never pursuit career wise or needed to just plain and simply feed their families a chance to continue their hoop dreams, get PAID for it and build enough film to either get a shot at the NBA or create a career on the hardwoods overseas.
When colleges offer athletes scholarships, they don’t necessarily care about the success of the athlete once the ball stops bouncing. Let’s not fool ourselves with the “they get a free education what more can you want” bullshit. The NCAA is a fundamental American institution built off of capitalism, corruption and greed. Chewing up underprivileged black kids and spitting them out is what they do. If you look at the online rosters for most big-time college programs, you’ll see a host of bullshit majors that you know will never amount to any lucrative post-sports success. Not only are athletes encouraged to take these majors in order to stay eligible, many at high profile universities aren’t expected to actually do the work. That sounds like a huge waste of time to me. If the NCAA offered courses on things like money management for professional athletes, how to deal with the inherent pressures that come with being a young person with money and unrealistic expectations and different careers within the business of sports, it would make much more sense. The least they can do to properly compensatie kids who generate the institutions billions of dollar without seeing a LEGAL dime is schooling them on how to flourish post sports and within the business of it. Like that should be the bare minimum.
In baseball, a player can get drafted by a professional team out of high school and decide if he’s ready for the big leagues or not. In fact, the player’s name stays in the draft throughout his collegiate career until he chooses to sign with a team, allowing him a better chance to evaluate when it’s time to make the leap to a professional farm system. Baseball players also have the option to play professionally without losing their NCAA eligibility, something you can’t do in sports which feature predominantly black athletes like football and basketball. We’ve seen several NFL players embark on minor league baseball careers, return to college once things didn’t work, join the football team and then get drafted into the NFL. Allowing baseball players to make money for their talents and then return to college and compete in sports without allowing others to do so is a travesty.
Recent legal proceedings have forced the NCAA to adjust it’s the institutional practices. The fact that the NCAA’s corrupt ways are currently being exposed is positive, but has also been rather negative, as many pay for play arrangements/offers are coming to light. The sad part about this is that the players are suffering more than the grown ups who’re looking to capitalize off the talents of kids trying to feed their families through athletics. Hoopers like Bryan Bowen Jr. (whose career has been ruined thanks to a pay for play scheme that ultimately exhausted his college eligibility), Zion Williamson, Kyle Kuzma and Dennis Smith Jr.’s names are being dragged through the mud for reportedly being compensated for their talents. If it isn’t hurting anyone, I don’t see the issue in a kid accepting money in order to help out his family. Does screwing up a child's reputation, future earnings and opportunities for looking out for their best interest make sense, especially when there are millions of people looking to exploit children who are superior athletes? Naw. And I see no issues in the game being played on both sides.
With the JBA, LaVar Ball walked through the door, waving the 44, and set out to tackle the hypocrisies of an institution looking to take advantage of his kids and those who look like them. Thanks to the NBA’s new ruling in regards the G-League, hoopers will get a better grip on their professional destiny, as more opportunities will be in place to ensure the success of the game’s next generation. Cut LaVar a check, Adam Silver.