Sunday, September 3, 2017

It's gotta be the shoes

Sunday morning, and you know what the crazy part is?

The crazy part is LaVar Ball is starting to make sense to me.

OK. So that's not precisely true.

The first crazy part is rolling out a signature basketball shoe for a 16-year-old high school junior, which is what LaVar (The Dad From Outer Space) just did for his son LaMelo. Yes, you heard right. LaMelo Ball hasn't gotten to his junior season in high school yet, and he's got his own shoe. And for the low, low price of $395, you can own a pair.

(You think I'm making this up? I'm not making this up. Four bills for a high school kid's shoe. And not even a high school senior kid. A high school junior kid.

Somewhere Jimmy Chitwood is kicking himself that he didn't roll out the Air J-Chit when he had it going good down there at Hickory.)

Pretty bonkers stuff, charging $395 for a high school kid's shoe. Even more bonkers is that there are dopes out there who will actually buy the things.

But you know what's not bonkers?

LaVar Ball saying he doesn't care if his son's shoe jeopardizes his NCAA eligibility. Because the way he figures it, college buckets needs LaMelo more than LaMelo needs college buckets.

"We'll sit out a year or two," LaVar said when asked if about the prospect of his son being declared ineligible. "Just get stronger and faster, and then go into [NBA training] camp as a free agent. He already got the narrative -- he can play, he can play. You see what he's doing at 15 and 16. Don't think that by the time he gets 17, 18 that he ain't going to be 10 times better than what he is now?"

You know what?

That doesn't sound all that crazy to me.

But I bet it just sent a shiver down the spine of every coach of every college basketball juggernaut out there.

Here's the thing: If the NCAA declares LaMelo ineligible, and he still winds up in the NBA (and if he's as all-that as his dad says he is, he will), where does that leave the NCAA? What if a kid doesn't need to hang out on campus for a year to get where he's ultimately going?

The big powers are already living off one-year rentals who play out the charade of being college students only because the NBA won't let them enter the draft right out of high school. Now here comes LaVar Ball offering a different way around that scenario. If it's successful, you think other prospective one-and-dones won't follow suit?

Maybe, ultimately, that will be a good thing for college buckets, because it will go back to being a game dominated by quasi-college students and not blatant mercenaries. Oh, they'll still be hired guns, because that's how it works in corporate college athletics. But it won't be so ... well, obvious.

Even better, it might also force the NBA's hand and make it finally eliminate its absurd rule.

In which case, we'll all have LaVar Ball to thank.

I know. Gives me indigestion, too.

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