Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Welcome to the cesspool

Restraint has always been a watchword here at the Blob, except on those occasions when it's not. So it's not going to go all nuclear here and say AAU ball is the ruination of basketball as we know it, with its sketchy characters and misplaced priorities and the coddling of young players' already outsized sense of entitlement.

What it will say instead is it's a damn cesspool.

Witness what happened last week, when a "coach" with whom all of America is familiar was allowed to dictate the removal of a game official because she made a call he didn't like. The "coach," of course, was LaVar Ball, paterfamilias of the ballin' Balls. His youngest son, LaMelo, was the star of Dad's AAU team, and one of the tournament's top draws.

Keep the latter in mind. It's the most important factor in all of this.

It's important because Adidas put a lot of money into this particular tournament, and it didn't want one of its star attractions to flee the scene. So when the game official, who happened to be a woman, made the offending call, and LaVar (telling her to "stay in her lane" like the sexist pig he is) demanded she be replaced immediately or his team would leave, you know what happened.

Adidas caved and replaced her. In the middle of the game. Even though she was a respected NCAA Division I women's basketball official.

I'm not saying this alone makes AAU ball a complete joke. I'm saying it's one of many things that make AAU ball a complete joke.

The rules that govern the sport elsewhere are warped all out of round in the bizarre universe of AAU ball, where "coaches" (quote marks deliberate) wield more power than those charged with making sure the integrity of the game itself is protected. That Adidas allowed Ball to eventually yank his team off the floor after a subsequent call does not absolve it from failing to back its game officials.

If Adidas, or the enterprise it was bankrolling, cared at all about the legitimacy of that enterprise (or the game itself, for that matter), it would have told LaVar Ball he needed to stay in his lane, and that if he couldn't do that, he knew where the door was. And don't let it hit you in the hindparts on the way out.

Alas, Adidas didn't do that. But again, this wasn't really basketball.

It was AAU ball. Different animal altogether.

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