High School Ballers Are Putting LaVar Ball on Blast for Trying to Slide Into DMs to Recruit for Pro League

In late December, LaVar Ball made a stunning announcement. Just weeks after pulling his son LiAngelo out of UCLA and saying he planned on preparing him for the NBA himself, the Ball family patriarch revealed he is going to start his own league called the Junior Basketball Association for those players who don’t want to take part in NCAA basketball.

At the time, Ball said he thought it would be “easy” to convince kids to play in the JBA. The plan was to give all players a salary of somewhere between $3,000 and $10,000 and have them play in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.

But it sounds like Ball has run into some trouble recruiting prospects to play in the league. According to high school and college basketball recruiting site Tipton Edits, Ball has used social media DMs to contact about 80 high school players to gauge their interest in playing in the JBA. But all of the top recruits have reportedly turned him down, and two, in particular, have put him on blast for his method of going about recruiting.

Tyler Herro, who hails from Wisconsin and is slated to attend Kentucky next season, is one of the players who was contacted by Ball. He shared a screenshot of the message he received from Big Baller Brand before revealing he declined the offer.

Jalen Carey, a guard from New Jersey who will attend Syracuse next season, was also approached by Ball about joining the JBA. He, too, declined the offer he received and shared a screenshot of it on Snapchat.

In fairness to Ball, trying to contact potential JBA recruits through DMs is probably the most efficient way for him to do it at this time since he’s spent most of the last month in Lithuania with LiAngelo and his youngest son LaMelo. But as SB Nation pointed out, he’s getting a whole bunch of rejections from players right now, so it’s probably time for him to switch up his method. Otherwise, the JBA might disappear just as quickly as it initially popped up.

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Reggie Bush Retired From Football on Live TV: ‘I’m Done’

Former Heisman Trophy winner and Super Bowl-winning running back Reggie Bush has formally retired from the NFL after an 11-year career split between New Orleans, Miami, Detroit, San Francisco and Buffalo.

“I’m done,” Bush said during an appearance on NFL Network’s NFL Total Access Friday. “It’s not breaking news. I’ve been saying it. I said it all season long, I said, ‘Listen, if I don’t play this year, I’m going to retire.’ Because I’m not going to spend a whole year off, come back, 33 years old, trying to get back in the league. Listen, once you get to a certain age as a running back, they just start to slowly weed you out.”

Bush rose to prominence in high school, rushing for 2,200 yards and while scoring 34 touchdowns as a junior at Helix High in San Diego. He’d continue to make various highlight reels as a senior before amassing 6,541 all-purpose yards en route to bringing two national championships to USC in 2003 and 2004. Bush also won the Heisman Trophy in 2005 but relinquished the honor in 2010 after being retroactively ruled ineligible for the 2005 season for NCAA rules violations.

In the NFL, Bush helped lead the New Orleans Saints to a win during Super Bowl XLIV in 2010. He notched two 1,000-yard seasons in his career—gaining 1,086 yards with Miami in 2011 and 1,006 yards with the Detroit Lions in 2013. 

Multiple injuries took their toll during a pro career that never quite saw Bush reach the insane heights he did in high school and college. Things were never quite the same after Bush slipped on a patch of concrete during a 2015 game against the then-St. Louis Rams.

Bush took on a reserve role with the Buffalo Bills during the 2016 season, and it appears he now has his sights set on the eSports world.

“Now I’m working for Next VR so we do some of the post-game analysis and virtual reality,” Bush told ESPN’s Michael Rothstein in October. “Two weeks ago we had our first game, the Green Bay at Minnesota game, and just seeing some of the guys on the field, it was definitely a little different, you know, being on the other side.”

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Lonzo Ball Debuted What Sounds Like the Big Baller Brand Theme Song

In case they haven't beaten you over the head with it enough by now, the Ball family is all about their brand. Big Baller Brand may be the most absurd name for a luxury brand you've ever heard in your life, but that has not stopped them from peddling sneakers and new gear at every possible juncture.

Their latest effort to corner the market is a push to market signature sneakers for LaMelo Ball, the high schooler who is just as famous for his terrible shot selection as he is scoring 90+ points in a single game. LaVar Ball has been defiant despite possible backlash from the NCAA, and rather than back down from selling the shoe, the Ball family threw a big party over the weekend to celebrate the release of LaMelo's first signature shoe.

But the shoe might not be the biggest headline from the weekend. Big brother Lonzo Ball showed up to the release party, and the part-time rapper decided to get behind the mic and assist in turning up the party. His performance was nothing special, but the song he participated in definitely is—it sounds like there is a Big Baller Brand theme song, because of fucking course there is.

If LaVar has any say on the matter, you'll be hearing the words, “Triple B's in this thang,” over and over again on a television and radio station near you. They may want to switch up the performers on this one if it's a route they want to pursue; Lonzo isn't the worst rapper in the world, but his stage presence is a little lacking here.

If the response on social media is any indication, the public would like the Big Baller Theme to die an early, fiery death. 

I won't be the first or last person to say this, but let's hope Lonzo is putting in as much work preparing for the upcoming NBA season as he is at building his family's brand. If you're going to attack a hip-hop legend at the same time you're offering up this weak shit, maybe just keep it all to yourself. 

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Lakers Are Rumored to Pass on Drafting Lonzo Ball

LaVar Ball might not want to read this article. LaVar talked about the Lakers drafting his son, Lonzo, so much that when the Lakers received the No. 2 pick in the lottery, people started talking as if the pick were a done deal.

Fultz to the Celtics, then Ball to the Lakers, then we’ll see what happens…

Rumors have surfaced, however, that the Lakers are far from sold on Lonzo Ball.

Today, basketball reporter Jordan Schultz tweeted that a source informed him the Lakers are not currently planning on drafting Ball—and they seem pretty certain, per Schultz.

You have to be cautious of this type of report, because teams can use press to persuade trade partners or manipulate other teams. But, if this is true, who could the Lakers be eyeing at No. 2?

Earlier this week, Schultz tweeted that a source told him Kentucky's De’Aaron Fox has for some teams become the highest-rated point guard in the draft.

If Fultz falls, he’s an option, as is Kansas’ Josh Jackson. Duke swingman Jayson Tatum is likely the only other player who could sneak up that high.

Ball, the talented former UCLA guard, averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 assists, and 6.0 rebounds per game in his lone NCAA season.

Send all complaints, compliments, and tips to sportstips@complex.com.

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Remember When Everyone Freaked Out After Kevin Durant Struggled to Lift Weights at the NBA Combine?

The 2017 NBA Combine is already underway in Chicago this week. So it’s probably too late for any players that are there to cancel their plans to take part in the combine drills this year. But Kevin Durant—who took part in the NBA Combine back in 2007 before being drafted No. 2 overall by the Seattle SuperSonics in the 2007 NBA Draft—has some advice for future players thinking about attending the combine: “Stay your ass home, work out, and get better on your own time.”

Durant was asked about his combine experience after the Warriors practiced on Wednesday afternoon, and he let it be known that he is not a fan of the combine and everything that comes along with it. Almost exactly 10 years ago, Durant infamously struggled with the bench press portion of the combine. Durant was asked to see how many times he could bench press 185 pounds, and he struggled to do it even once. He said that it led to an embarrassing moment for him that featured several strength trainers in attendance laughing at him.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” he said on Wednesday. “All the strength coaches were laughing at me and shit. They were giggling with each other that I couldn’t lift 185 pounds, and I was like, 'All right, keep laughing. Keep laughing.' It was a funny thing, because I was the only one that couldn’t lift it, and I was struggling to lift it. I was embarrassed at that point, but I’m like, 'Give me a basketball, please. Give me a ball.'”

Durant may remember the 2007 combine like it was yesterday, but we realize that not everyone out there remembers it clearly as he does. We also realize that many NBA fans might not remember the circumstances surrounding Durant’s performance at the combine. So let’s take a look back at what went down during it to see how it became one of the defining moments of Durant’s early NBA career…

Durant’s Draft Stock Heading Into the NBA Combine

Kevin Durant at Texas.
Image via Getty/Ronald Martinez/Staff

Prior to entering the 2007 NBA Draft, Durant spent one season playing college basketball at the University of Texas. He averaged 25.8 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 1.3 assists at Texas, according to Sports-Reference, and while the Longhorns lost in the second round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament to USC (fun fact: Nick Young averaged 17.5 points for the Trojans that season), Durant was still widely regarded as one of the best draft prospects in the country that spring.

ESPN draft expert Chad Ford referred to Durant as “the most decorated NCAA freshman ever” and said he was “the most complete prospect to hit the draft since LeBron James.” There was some debate over whether or not he would go No. 1 overall—Ford suggested Ohio State center Greg Oden would be a better selection with the top pick—but Durant was set up to be, at worst, the second overall pick in the draft and a slam dunk of a selection.

Durant’s Performance at the NBA Combine

Kevin Durant plays in a game at Texas.
Image via Getty/Icon Sports Wire/Contributor

In 2017, a player like Durant would probably opt not to participate in the NBA Combine. Several projected lottery picks, including Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, and Malik Monk, decided not to attend the combine this year, and it’s not all that uncommon for the best players in the country to skip it these days. But as Durant pointed out on Wednesday, draft prospects were expected to participate in the combine back in 2007.

“The first to the last pick was there,” he said on Wednesday. “It was just a part of the process.”

At the combine, there were some things that immediately stood out to the NBA scouts in attendance. Durant’s 7-foot-5 wingspan, for example, was second-best among all prospects. But according to a Seattle Times report released about a week after the draft, Durant’s overall combine performance ranked 78th out of the 80 players who were in attendance.

Durant’s vertical jump was 33.5 inches, a half-inch less than Oden’s vertical. He completed the agility drill in 12.33 seconds, which was slower than Oden who completed it in 11.67 seconds. And it took him 3.45 seconds to finish a three-quarter-court sprint, which was, again, slower than Oden who finished it in 3.27 seconds.

And of course, there was the dreaded bench press. Durant had, as ESPN.com described in their article on Durant’s most recent combine comments, a “thin, wiry frame” back in 2007. So it wasn’t a complete surprise to see him struggle to bench press. But he was the only draft prospect to fail to do a single 185-pound rep at the combine in 2007.

Durant is now on a short list of players that also failed to do a single rep on the bench press at the NBA Combine. That lists includes players like Jamal Crawford (2000 NBA Combine), T.J. Ford (2003 NBA Combine), Luke Ridnour (2003 NBA Combine), and Monta Ellis (2005 NBA Combine). But Durant is often cited as the most prominent example of a prospect failing to bench press one rep at the combine.

How NBA Teams Reacted to Durant’s Performance at the NBA Combine

Kevin Durant puts his head down during a game at Texas.
Image via Getty/Ronald Martinez/Staff

Durant’s combine performance was underwhelming, to say the least, and many publications were quick to point out that Durant may have hurt his draft stock by taking part in the combine. Websites like NBAdraft.net didn’t pull any punches when they described Durant’s combine performance.

“Showing off his long arms was about the only positive Kevin Durant can take from this combine,” they wrote.

Many NBA message boards were also filled with speculation surrounding Durant’s future in the NBA following his showing at the combine. But fortunately for Durant, most NBA teams didn’t freak out as much as NBA fans did.

Following the combine, the Seattle Times reached out to the Sonics and learned that they were “not dissuaded by Durant’s workout.” Coincidentally, former Sonics lottery pick Robert Swift also struggled with the bench press portion of the combine in 2004, and he ended up transforming himself into one of the strongest players on the Sonics within just a few years (in hindsight, the Sonics probably regret making a Durant/Swift comparison). So the Sonics weren’t all that worried about Durant not being able to bench press 185 pounds.

How Durant Reacted to His Performance at the NBA Combine

Kevin Durant answers questions before the 2007 NBA Draft.
Image via Getty/Sporting News Archive/Contributor

Rick Barnes, Durant’s coach at Texas, was very vocal about the criticism Durant received following the combine.

“If people question his strength, they’re stupid,” Barnes said. “If they are looking for weightlifters to come out of Texas, that’s not what we’re producing. There are a lot of guys who can bench press 300 pounds in the NBA who couldn’t play dead in a cowboy movie. Kevin’s the best player in the draft—period—at any position.”

But during Durant’s first few years in the NBA, he seemed to laugh off the criticism he faced after failing to bench press 185 pounds. In 2010, he actually created this video that poked fun at his inability to lift heavy weights:

But while speaking with reporters on Wednesday, he admitted that he didn’t handle the criticism well. It bothered him more than he may have led people to believe at the time.

“My body type is not the one to get yoked up and cut up,” he said. “I knew that. My mom told me that, too. I was feeling down about it, because everybody needed something to say about me. So my mom was like, 'That’s not who you are. You’re never going to be Alonzo Mourning, that type of build.' I always wanted to be a basketball player. I didn’t want to be a weightlifter. I knew how important your body was.”

And the fact that Durant is now so against the NBA Combine suggests that he still hasn’t fully recovered from what happened when he attended it.

Why Durant’s NBA Combine Performance Didn’t Really Matter

Kevin Durant is drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics.
Image via Getty/Nathaniel S. Butler/Contributor

Much was made about Durant’s inability to bench press 185 pounds at the 2007 NBA Combine, but obviously, it didn’t end up having much of an effect on his draft stock. In the end, the Sonics still decided to select him with the No. 2 pick in the draft, which they clearly would would have done regardless of how many times Durant bench pressed 185 pounds.

Meanwhile, Russell Carter, a shooting guard from Notre Dame, managed to bench press 185 pounds 25 times at the 2007 NBA Combine, more than any other player that year. And Carter, who is currently playing for Niigata Albirex BB in Japan, wasn’t selected in the 2007 NBA Draft and never played in an NBA game. So that probably tells you all you need to know about the importance of the bench press drill at the NBA Combine.

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Lonzo Ball and His Brothers Aren’t Worth a Billion Dollars to a Sneaker Brand (Yet)

The sound of the final buzzer of the NCAA regular season hadn't stopped ringing in everyone's ears before UCLA's Lonzo Ball said what basketball fans already knew: On March 13, the 19-year-old point guard announced he would forgo his sophomore season and declare for the NBA draft. The one-and-done prospect was fulfilling one-third of the plan prophesied by his father, LaVar Ball, who promised each of his three talented sons would play college ball for one season before they cashing in on their skills at the pro level. But making it to the league is just the beginning of the process.

Ball’s intentions for his sons extend beyond the court. In his mind, those plans include massive endorsements — namely a sneaker deal that includes the complete trio of siblings, for one astronomical sum. “A billion dollars, it has to be there,” Ball told USA Today in a late March interview. “That's our number, a billion, straight out of the gate. And you don't even have to give it to me all up front. Give us $100 million a year.”

All the major footwear companies are listening to the Ball patriarch’s words, and Nike co-founder Phil Knight himself admitted that the company has “an interest” in Lonzo. Knight also noted that LaVar Ball’s current price tag was “a little steep.” But it all leads to the question of just how much  we should expect one of the major sneaker companies to shell out for Lonzo. Not only  is he going to be a first-round pick in the draft, but securing his services could also potentially mean locking in his brothers LiAngelo, 18, and LaMelo,15, both high schoolers who also are committed to UCLA.

Most industry figures are cautious to speculate on what the potential value for Lonzo’s inevitable sneaker endorsement could possibly be. Various reps from Nike, Jordan, and Adidas all declined to speak on record for this article.One source at a sneaker company who asked to remain anonymous  said that Lonzo’s deal could add up to “maybe millions but never a billion.” The source did admit that any company lucky enough to land the first of the three Ball brothers could be setting themselves up lovely for the future.

Industry analysts unattached to sneaker brands were willing to guesstimate on the record, however. “I would speculate that an initial deal of $25-30 million over five years would be reasonable,” says Edwin Kye, a contributor at investment website Seeking Alpha, that gives information on the stock market.“This would maintain a fine line between placing a premium on the popularity of the family and recognizing that Lonzo’s future value to a brand is heavily dependent on how well he’ll do in the NBA, which is a big unknown and one reason why a lifetime deal at this time is highly unlikely.”

His name may be more heavily hyped, but Ball will probably find himself in the same general range as a few of the top picks from the 2016 draft class. “Ben Simmons is making $4 million per year from his deal with Nike, whereas Brandon Ingram’s deal with Adidas pays him $2 million per year,” Kye says.

Ball Family
The Ball Family, wearing their sportswear brand, Big Baller Brand. Image via SLAM

Look for Ball to score similar offers no matter which brand he signs with, along with a slight boost to account for the attention the family has created for itself. That increase, however, won’t make for the extra tens of millions dollars Mr. Ball is looking for his sons. Any contract would likely be constructed with a heavy focus on incentives based on Ball’s actual success on the court and a long list of intangibles.

Having to predict the future is always one of the trickiest parts in determining an athlete’s value for companies. The eldest Ball sibling has the court vision and an uncanny knack for dazzling, pinpoint passes akin to NBA great Jason Kidd. The fact that his two younger brothers have been scoring monsters in high school only adds to the infamy their last name carries. Add in their dad's unabashed approach to praising his sons to any media outlet willing to listen — and there have been many — only amplifies the platform and power the Ball family wields.

“The reason we’re talking about him is he’s captured everyone’s imagination,” says Gavin Ivester​, a former Global Creative Director for Nike Footwear Design and former Senior Vice President and General Manager for PUMA Footwear Division. “But like every player, there’s no guarantee he’ll thrive in the NBA.”

In theory, the $25-30 million estimate keeps the risks low for any company who decides to ink a deal for Lonzo Ball. But unpredictable factors  are part of the reason why it’s tough to speculate exactly how much Ball could command from a footwear brand. To begin with, one of the first concerns would be which team winds up drafting him. “The right deal can be a mix of marketing and media exposure, talent investment [footwear designers] and, of course, cash,” Ivester​ says. “The smart deal goes for the money but keeps it in context with the whole package. A deal that helps position the player as an all-media star gets him paid many other ways outside the sneaker deal.”

Should he wind up in a major media market like Los Angeles or New York, his value to potential suitors goes up. Conversely, the number goes down if a smaller market team like Utah or Milwaukee calls his name on draft night. Playing on a squad that has fewer televised games or no presence in the NBA playoffs means less exposure for the player and the company’s products, which in turn means a bigger spend to make him a household name.

No matter how hyped he is at the moment, Lonzo Ball and his business team will have to put in the work and exercise patience and commitment in order to make his dad’s billion-dollar dream materialize. “Every player in the NBA is talented, some more than others,” Ivester​ says. “But selling sneakers doesn’t happen from on-court talent alone. Legends aren’t built in one season; they’re built after many].”

In order to begin establishing their legacy, LaVar, Lonzo, and the other Ball siblings may have to start looking at the long-term instead of banking on making a headline-grabbing deal that would rewrite endorsement history.

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Kevin Durant’s Brother May Have Sneak Dissed Russell Westbrook

One of the most frustrating things for professional athletes has to be when their friends and family members decide to share unpopular opinions or take shots at people on social media. The athletes themselves have absolutely nothing to do with the tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram captions that get sent out. And yet, they’re indirectly tied to them and forced to address them, even though they weren’t responsible for hitting “send” on them. Just ask Michael Vick about how bad it can get.

On Thursday night, Kevin Durant discovered what a pain it can be when his brother Tony appeared to take to Twitter to send a shot in Russell Westbrook’s direction. He never mentioned Westbrook by name, but most of the people who follow him assumed that was who he was talking about when he sent out this:

Westbrook was playing a game against the Raptors—and putting together a triple-double—when that tweet went out. And KD’s brother seemed to confirm that he was, in fact, talking about Westbrook when he responded to one of his followers with these tweets:

He also sent out this:

But then, he tried to say that he was talking about a player he was watching in an NCAA game and not Westbrook when people started calling him out for doing it:

And he later posted this:

People weren’t buying that he was actually talking about an NCAA player, though:

And KD’s brother didn’t exactly help his cause when he started responding to people who referenced KD and Westbrook's fractured relationship with tweets like this:

But Tony continued to stick to his story and said he was watching Iowa State guard Monte Morris go off during the Cyclones’ NCAA Tournament game against Nevada and not taking shots at Westbrook:

Morris did go for 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on Thursday night, which suggests KD’s brother could have really been watching the Iowa State game and not talking about Westbrook. And if that’s the case, then people were going crazy “over nothing” as he said:

But throughout the night, he continued to entertain those who thought he was taking aim at Westbrook by letting off little shots like this here and there:

And eventually, he got so many responses to his tweets that he decided to delete his Twitter account altogether:

As of Friday morning, his Twitter account has been reactivated and all of his tweets from last night are still there. So if you want, you can go and try and make sense of it all for yourself. But it certainly looks like he was, at the very least, trying to get under Thunder fans’ skin. And it's probably only going to make some of them hate KD even more than they already do, even though he didn’t have anything to do with the tweets his brother sent out.

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