This dude LaMelo Ball has to be the worst person imaginable to play with pic.twitter.com/QGsUPLha6w
— NBA All Access (@nballaccess) May 28, 2017
This compilation video of LaMelo Ball lowlights from Saturday’s 52-point Big Ballers drubbing at the hands of the Compton Magic has been making the rounds. It shows LaMelo taking one ill-advised shot after another, and missing them badly. It’s striking imagery for two reasons: 1) LaMelo Ball is supposed to be good, no?, and 2) his older brother Lonzo, whose play at UCLA is the primary reason the family came to prominence, is a selfless distributor.
There is a school of thought that because LaMelo Ball is just 15 years old that this video is unfit for distribution and/or criticism. However, LaMelo Ball’s place in the ongoing platform-agnostic reality show presided over by his father, LaVar Ball, makes it worthy of discussion.
When LaVar Ball told Kristine Leahy to stay in her lane a couple weeks ago, most people felt he was out of line. Nevertheless, there was a vocal group of people on social media who felt that Leahy had inappropriately questioned his parenting methods when she said that Lonzo looked “terrified” to publicly disagree with his father. (To buttress her line of thinking: LaVar himself had previously told Colin Cowherd that Lonzo would never even privately disagree with him — and if he did “then I’d say ‘then you ain’t my son,’ my son don’t talk like that.”)
When LaMelo Ball scored 92 points in a high school game in February, it was national news. LaVar Ball has used the fact that he has three sons who are superb basketball players (ignoring for the moment that the middle brother, LiAngelo, is not as highly touted as his siblings) as justification for packaging for a billion-dollar shoe deal.
At the very least, since LeBron James was put on the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 16, and his games broadcasted on national television, we have collectively decided that high school basketball players are newsworthy. There is a sliding scale for when individual entertainers — be them actors/actresses, singers, or athletes — are deserving of coverage. Justin Bieber had his first platinum album at the same age as LaMelo; was nobody allowed to critique his music or behavior for three years?
With newsworthiness comes scrutiny. If LaMelo has games like he did against Compton where he’s airballing contested three-pointers that all comes with his territory. It’s hardly the first game he’s had like that. In February, he missed 20 three-pointers in a playoff loss, which was played in front of a packed arena on USC’s court. If he does not develop a shooting conscience, he will be a massive liability for UCLA in a couple years. Incurring the criticism — and even ridicule — that comes with games like these will be an asset to him in the long run if he uses it as a learning experience.