LaVar Ball is rarely silent. The outspoken father of Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball even boasted over the weekend that he could beat his son’s newest teammate, LeBron James, in a game of one-on-one. Yet, all is quiet when it comes to concerning issues about his Junior Basketball Association.
The elder Ball founded the eight-team league as an alternative to college for players like his 16-year-old son LaMelo, who left high school to play professionally. Controversy has befallen the JBA less than a month into its launch, as Chicago Ballers (teams from all eight cities are called the Ballers) coach Edward Denard physically and verbally assailed a player during a timeout late in a loss on Thursday.
In the four days since, the league has ignored media requests for comment, and Denard has yet to face disciplinary measures in advance of his team’s game in Dallas on Thursday. Giving coaches carte blanche to bully players is a dangerous precedent to set for a fledgling league seeking legitimacy.
JBA coach verbally and physically assails a player
This is not an overreaction. You need only watch the video once of Denard twice putting his fists to Montrell Dixson’s chest and all but challenging the 20-year-old to a fight to know this is unacceptable.
“Hey, that’s my bad, I guess,” Dixson said during the timeout, as a microphone from the Facebook Live broadcast picked up audio inside the huddle on the floor of a mostly empty arena in Ontario, Calif.
“Get the f—ing ball,” Denard countered. “Stop being a b—-.”
When Dixson responds, Denard tries to intimidate the player, getting in the player’s face and asking him, “What you going to do? What you going to do, huh? What the f— are you going to do?”
Benched for the final 1:24 of the game, Dixson resisted any further interaction with his coach.
“I’ll cut the record straight as of now,” Dixson said in a Facebook post responding to the incident the following day. “I didn’t react like everybody wanted to because I know how to keep my composure when needed to. If I would’ve acted crazy I’d be the kid known for fighting his coach on national TV.”
Neither Denard nor Ball nor the JBA has responded to requests for comment. The Chicago Ballers are scheduled to play in Dallas on Thursday, and the coach has faced zero discipline from the league.
LaVar Ball was no saint as a coach
Perhaps this should not come as a surprise. As a coach, Ball once pulled his AAU team off the floor and forfeited a game when a referee whistled him for a technical foul. A week later, when he was again issued a tech for berating an official, he demanded the ref be removed from a game. He has made sexist comments toward female media members and his own wife. His other business venture, Big Baller Brand, received an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau for failing to fulfill orders.
Ball has not had a firm grip on decorum, but you would expect him to stop short of condoning Denard’s behavior. Yet, the man who has been quick to openly criticize his sons’ high school, college and professional coaches is choosing to remain silent when the coach now in question works for him.
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