By LARRY VAUGHT
PADUCAH — Spire Academy brings a show that fans want to see and didn’t disappoint anyone here at Mustang Madness with two wins in two games at McCracken County High School.
LaMelo Ball, the brother of Los Angeles Laker guard Lonzo Ball and son of LaVar Ball, was a big draw along with the Big Baller Brand. But Michigan State signee Rocket Watts and junior Isaiah Jackson, a top 20 player in his recruiting class, are also both big-time talents.
That’s why the fire marshal had to tell McCracken officials no more fans could be admitted when attendance hit about 3,500 in the 3,300-seat gymnasium.
Statistics didn’t really matter. Fans wanted to see 3-point shots, flashy passes and dunks … and then more dunks. They also wanted to buy Big Baller Brand merchandise and estimates were that over $40,000 in merchandise was sold over the weekend — more than is often sold at bigger venues.
“Melo plays the same way all the time and just goes for the win. Whatever it takes to win, that’s how he played. It’s beautiful to watch him do what he does,” LaVar Ball, CEO of Big Baller Brand, said. “That’s why it’s good to have three sons (middle son LiAngelo plays in the Junior Basketball Association and also attended games here).
“I have one with the Lakers but he doesn’t get to play like that, so it’s good for me to watch Melo because he reminds me exactly of how Zo plays with that fast pace and whatever it takes to win and playing to the crowd and passing and shooting the ball. Alonzo plays the same way but they don’t have runners on the Lakers like that to allow him to do that.
“That’s why my last thing in life I want to see is all three of my boys in the NBA together so everybody can see how they play together.”
Lonzo Ball plays with LeBron James with the Lakers and at times has been criticized for not doing more after being the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2017.
“It’s success even if you just make it to the NBA. If you make it, it’s a lifeline and goal you had and is good success. That’s why when they tell me my son struggles I say, ‘How. He’s a young guy doing something he loves to do and he’s a millionaire doing it and gets anything he wants. How does he struggle?’” LaVar Ball said.
“He enjoys himself because Lonzo is doing something he’s been working on all his life. He is just getting started. He is going to end up being the best player in the world. Between him and his brothers, one of them will be the best in the world.”
LaVar Ball says his son Lonzo, who has averaged 9.9 points, 6.3 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game in his two-year NBA career, has just one problem — his coach.
“The only thing holding Lonzo back is Luke Walton. He doesn’t know how to coach and I am not afraid to say it because he’s done nothing,” LaVar Ball said. “Just because you are standing behind the Golden State Warriors when the coach (Steve Kerr) is hurt, that team was on auto drive. Me and you could have coached the team at that time. He ain’t coached a youth team, high school team, college team, nothing.
“The Lakers keep saying, ‘LaVar, should we get Anthony Davis. Should we get this guy.’ You can get whoever you want but if you have a guy at the top who don’t know how to control nothing … you can have the best players and not win.”