adidas teamwear Locals have connection to LaVar Ball Show in Las Vegas
LaVar Ball is a celebrity.
Like him or not, his popularity isn’t debatable. He shows up somewhere usually barking at somebody, most of the time jokingly and he draws cameras, microphones and, most of all, crowds.
And we have two locals Wallace Johnson of Haverhill, and longtime basketball official Rich Napolitano with insight on what happened when Ball showed up to coach his son’s AAU team, Big Baller Brand.
Here’s the first story, from Johnson, on the craziness in Las Vegas:
Johnson’s son, Dallion, an Eagle Tribune All Star a freshman last winter at Phillips Andover Academy, was playing in the same Adidas sponsored tournament. His Rivals Select Team was playing in a lower division.
After his son’s game, at a different venue, they high tailed it over to the big game where another Ball son, LaMelo, was playing against a team with Zion Williamson, an Internet sensation due to his thunderous and athletic dunks.
“It was crazy,” said Johnson. “When we pulled up, there were hundreds of kids in front of the gym, trying to get in. But they couldn’t. We could because we had bracelets from being in the tournament.
“We finally pushed and shoved our way in,” he said. “The crowd was crazy, people pushing and shoving to get a view. Basically we had to climb on top (of the stands) to see the game.”
The talkative LaVar Ball, his son and Williamson weren’t the only draws. University of Kansas coach Bill Self and NBA stars Damian Lillard (Trailblazers), Andrew Wiggins (Timberwolves) and Lonzo Ball (Lakers) were there, too.
“We heard LeBron James was supposed to be there, but he decided it was too crazy and never went in,” Johnson said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The police weren’t there either, at least initially,
but Johnson said that changed about the time the game started.
“People were almost standing on the court,” he said. “In fact, a few times they announced” ‘Move off the court!’ because they were so close. I think LaVar Ball was part of the craziness, but the fact is there were other factors, too.”
The second part of the story comes from Napolitano, a longtime basketball official who assigns referees for the Commonwealth Motors Christmas Classic.
The role of the Methuen resident came a day after the celebrity AAU coach made news for getting a technical foul from a female official, then demanding that she be removed from the game before his team would continue.
Adidas gave in after Ball’s eruption. A new official was sent in to replace the female official.
If you recall, Ball two weeks ago pulled his son’s team from the floor after getting a technical foul in the second half of a game, which got him a lot of national criticism for poor sportsmanship. Discrimination at its finest all because of $$ shameful”
Well, that tweet got a lot of play, including a mention in a major story on the Las Vegas incident in The Oregonian newspaper.
The International Association of Approved Basketball Officials (IAABO), which oversees 16,000 youth, high school and collegiate officials, also issued a statement demanding an apology from Adidas to the referee who was removed.
Contacted yesterday, Napolitano said, “The recent incident at the Adidas Uprising Summer Championships in Las Vegas involving the removal of a basketball official is not only upsetting, but also completely unacceptable.
“The decision to remove an official because a high profile individual received a technical foul goes against the integrity of the game, but unfortunately it is not unique to Las Vegas. We have AAU programs in our state that tell their officials that they must use discretion before ultimately assessing a technical foul, to the point where they demand officials seek permission from site leadership before doing so.
“This flies in the face of how officials are trained on the rules and how to administer them.”
Napolitano said this interference, while not always seen on social media or TV cameras, has become the rule rather than the exception.
“The fact that negotiating with teams on officiating crews, with gender representation included in the discussion, is appalling and sends up a major red flag,” he said. “The bright red flag flowing in the wind is money, pure and simple. It has nothing to do with the game of basketball or the student athletes participating.
“Ed Rush from Court Club Elite should be commended for finally pulling away from Adidas and severing the relationship with the current leadership running these events.”
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