LaVar Ball steal­ing the show at Ve­gas tour­na­ments

El Dorado News-Times - - Sports -

LAS VE­GAS (AP) — LaVar Ball walked to the scorer's ta­ble, pointed his fin­ger around and asked a ques­tion.

"Where are the of­fi­cials?" he asked. "I need to find the of­fi­cials."

Given Ball's in­ter­ac­tions with of­fi­cials this week in Las Ve­gas — any­where, for that mat­ter — it seemed as if more fire­works were in store from the brash coach/fa­mous fa­ther/show­man.

In­stead, Ball of­fered only praise.

"We should have been over here," he said af­ter his Big Baller Brand team's vic­tory at a lo­cal high school. "Y'all com­mu­ni­cated with us, y'all were good. If you com­mu­ni­cate with me, I'm good."

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion has not been a prob­lem for Ball since he forced his way into the spot­light.

The fa­ther of Los An­ge­les Lak­ers rookie guard Lonzo Ball has kept his name in the head­lines with a bar­rage of boast­ful state­ments, claim­ing he could have beaten Michael Jor­dan one-on-one, his son is a bet­ter player than three still-ac­tive NBA MVPs and that he would ne­go­ti­ate a $1 bil­lion shoe deal for his three sons.

He's also ap­peared shirt­less on WWE Raw, came out with a $495 Big Baller Brand bas­ket­ball shoe and is cur­rently film­ing a re­al­ity TV show about his life.

A po­lar­iz­ing fig­ure, Ball brought his road­show to Sin City this week for the high school show­case bas­ket­ball tour­na­ments.

As is usu­ally the case, he is steal­ing the show.

Top-tier re­cruits are play­ing all across the city and coaches from most Di­vi­sion I pro­grams are here to watch them, yet much of the fo­cus is on the big man with the Big Baller Brand.

Ball's week started on a high note at the Adi­das Up­ris­ing tour­na­ment, with more than 3,000 peo­ple show­ing up at the Cash­man Cen­ter Wed­nes­day night to see LaVar's youngest son, LaMelo, face SC Supreme and Zion Wil­liamson, an­other top-10 re­cruit.

More than 1,000 peo­ple were turned away — LeBron James re­port­edly among them — and the Las Ve­gas po­lice depart­ment was called to con­trol the crowd.

Nu­mer­ous NBA play­ers were able to get in and an es­ti­mated 80,000 watched a Face­book live stream of the show­down that left even veteran coaches shak­ing their heads at the spec­ta­cle.

"Never seen any­thing like it," Kansas coach Bill Self told ESPN.

The Big Ballers lost that game, but the big Ball con­tin­ued to serve as a bas­ket­ball pied piper, draw­ing huge crowds wher­ever he went as a TV crew doc­u­mented his every move.

Big Baller Brand won its lone game on Thurs­day, but Fri­day brought con­tro­versy from the coach.

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing a tech­ni­cal foul from a fe­male of­fi­cial in a morn­ing game against Team BBC, Ball de­manded she be re­moved or he would take his team off the floor, as he did in an AAU game ear­lier this month. Af­ter a short de­lay, tour­na­ment or­ga­niz­ers de­cided to re­place the of­fi­cial, but Ball was hit with an­other tech­ni­cal foul by the new of­fi­cial and re­fused to leave the court af­ter be­ing ejected.

Adi­das of­fi­cials opted to call the game with Team BBC lead­ing 53-43, giv­ing Big Baller Brand a loss. Af­ter the game, Ball made com­ments to ESPN about the fe­male of­fi­cial that were con­strued to be sex­ist.

The con­tro­versy only seemed to add to the Big Baller fer­vor.

Fans stood 10 deep to watch Big Baller Brand beat Col­lege Bound on a smaller court at Cash­man Cen­ter Fri­day night and the stands were close to full at Canyon Springs High school for a win over the River­side Hawks on Sat­ur­day.

Ball was on his best be­hav­ior for those two games, barely ris­ing out of his chair dur­ing Fri­day night's game, get­ting into a few not-so-heated dis­cus­sions with of­fi­cials on Sat­ur­day.

"Y'all com­mu­ni­cated and I like that," Ball told the of­fi­cial af­ter Sat­ur­day's game. "You just tech-ing and all that bull---, foul, foul, foul, no­body wants to see that."

But peo­ple sure want to see Ball, for one rea­son or an­other.

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