Not much feels sweeter than shutting your haters up. Just about everyone can relate to the joy of proving doubters wrong, especially if you believe most of them should be supporting you.
I’m willing to bet that’s exactly how LaVar Ball is feeling after a week filled with milestones and accomplishments by his family that not even his greatest critics can deny.
American basketball players LiAngelo Ball, center, and LaMelo Ball, left, and their father LaVar Ball participates in a media conference at the Harmony park hotel in Vaizgaikiemis village, Prienai district, Lithuania, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball have both signed a one-year contracts to play for Lithuanian professional basketball club Prienai – Birstonas Vytautas in the southern Lithuania town of Prienai, some 110 km (68 miles) from the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.(AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)
It truly is a list of achievements never quite seen before.
LaVar’s youngest son, LaMelo Ball, became the youngest American ever to play professional basketball at age 16 when he made his debut for BC Vytautus of Lithuania on Jan. 9. The young teenage celebrity star, who already made history back in September 2017 when he became the first 16-year-old to have his own signature basketball sneaker, scored 10 points with nine assists and a few highlights that made ESPN’s Sports Center later that night.
LaMelo took the court with his older brother, LiAngelo Ball, who scored 19 points with three rebounds as Vytautas beat Zalgiris-2, the top ranked junior team in Lithuania.
This all happened on a Lithuanian basketball court that had LaVar’s Big Baller Brand logos everywhere, including right in the middle of the hardwood. That, apparently, was part of the contractual agreement that the Ball family negotiated with Vytautas when they first joined the team. Somehow, LaVar was able to convince the Lithuania team to quit its own league and play in the Big Baller Brand Challenge Games, a five-game showcase intended to feature LaMelo and LiAngelo’s pro debuts against top Lithuanian talent.
The father of American basketball players LiAngelo and LaMelo, LaVar Ball shows the T-shirt of his sons new team, Lithuanian BC Prienai – Birstonas Vytautas, during a news conference at the Harmony park hotel in Vaizgaikiemis village, Prienai district, Lithuania, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball have both signed a one-year contracts to play for Lithuanian professional basketball club Prienai – Birstonas Vytautas in the southern Lithuania town of Prienai, some 110 km (68 miles) from the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.(AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)
The first game of the Challenge was played in the early afternoon in Eastern Time on a Tuesday, during hours when a majority of Americans are working. Yet, the game still attracted more than 100,000 viewers via Facebook Live. A hundred thousand people watching Lithuanians hoop from their computers or smartphones just to see what the Ball Family was going to do.
The Ball brothers didn’t play as well in the second game of the BBB Challenge as Vytautas faced a much better opponent in BC Lietkabelis on Jan. 13. Melo and Gelo went scoreless as they were limited to just 15 total minutes of play. According to Bleacher Report, Vytautas’ head coach decided to go with more experienced players on the team over the Balls due to the much tougher competition. Unlike the opponent in the first game, BC Lietkabelis isn’t a junior team. They’re all grown men and made the Finals last year in Lithuania’s top pro basketball league, the LKL.
But that, alone, could be considered a positive achievement, itself: that the Ball brothers are actually facing strong competition. Nothing can replace real in-game experience against quality competition, and LiAngelo and LaMelo will gain that during their temporary stay in Lithuania. That’s something many pundits argued wouldn’t happen when LaVar first announced that he was withdrawing his kids from their respective schools. Yet, the man just keeps pulling off the impossible.
LaVar said his eldest son, Lonzo, would be drafted by the Lakers long before his son even entered his name into the 2017 NBA Draft. He pulled it off.
LaVar said his son would have his own signature shoe and people would pay 500 bucks a pair. He pulled it off, and despite an F grade from the Better Business Bureau, people are still buying BBB shoes and apparel.
When the man gets his mind set on something, it seems he, somehow, always finds a way to pull it off, no matter how daunting the goal may be.