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Volume 25 No. 51
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Big Baller Brand Drops Shoe For LaMelo Ball, Raising Questions About Future NCAA Eligibility

Big Baller Brand on Thursday announced the release of LaMelo Ball's "own signature shoe," which is "unprecedented territory" for a 16-year-old, according to Ryan Kartje of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. The announcement "initially prompted questions regarding LaMelo’s eligibility next season" at Chino Hills (Calif.) High School. How things will "change in two years" when LaMelo is slated to enroll at UCLA "remains to be seen." The shoe, named the Melo Ball 1, will cost $395, which is "$100 less than" Lakers G Lonzo Ball's ZO2 shoes (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 9/1). NCAA Associate Dir of Public & Media Relations Emily James in an email wrote that she "could not speak specifically about LaMelo Ball's amateur status being threatened" (USA TODAY, 9/1). THE RINGER's Rodger Sherman wrote it "doesn't seem like this was an oversight by the Balls." A few years ago, the Balls "needed the NCAA system," but now the family is a "household name." Now that the Balls are famous, UCLA "needs LaMelo more than he needs the school." Sherman: "I don’t see any way LaMelo ends up eligible to play college basketball if the Balls sell his shoe" (THERINGER.com, 8/31). LaVar Ball said that he "isn't concerned whether" LaMelo's signature shoe will "affect his son's college eligibility." UCLA issued a statement that it "could not comment specifically about LaMelo Ball, citing NCAA rules." ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman noted LaMelo Ball's shoe was "available Thursday for pre-order through Big Baller Brand's website" (ESPN.com, 8/31).

FAME MAKES A MAN TAKE THINGS OVER
: ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt said Ball “doesn’t need to” play college basketball in an "outdated world where accomplishment follows fame." Van Pelt: "Now it can arrive in advance of it.” He added of the family, "They’ve already got a TV show; they’ve got a shoe, (LaMelo’s) got a shoe; and everybody’s famous. In 2017, that’s the dream and the rest evidently is just the details” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 9/1). FS1's Jason Whitlock noted Ball "hasn’t accomplished squat, and he’s got a shoe deal and a commercial that’s parading him around like he’s accomplished something.” But FS1’s Jason McIntyre said, “Times have changed. This is the reality TV era. ... People care about him passionately. They’re going to buy his shoe. He’s got a brand at 16.” FS1’s Seth Joyner said, “Back in the day, you had to do something to get a shoe. He hadn’t done anything.” McIntyre: “Young people are into the Ball brand, they’re going to buy the sneakers” (“Speak for Yourself,” FS1, 8/31).

FAMILY FUN
: Goodman noted the Balls "debuted the reality show, 'Ball in the Family,' on Facebook on Thursday." LaVar Ball said, "We had an offer from NBC, but we turned it down. Who's watching TV these days? Facebook was the smart move for us because that's the future" (ESPN.com, 8/31). ESPN.com's Myron Medcalf wrote the show "tries to be sympathetic to the Ball patriarch while showing his brashness isn’t just there to generate social media buzz." It takes "only a few minutes to realize LaVar Ball and reality TV could enjoy a wonderful union." His sons "all compete for the best supporting actor award in the show" (ESPN.com, 8/31).