Is the NBA Copying LaVar Ball?

by: Perry Green AFRO Sports Editor, [email protected]
/ (AP Photo/John Locher) /

Remember when LaVar Ball came up with that crazy idea of starting a Big Baller Brand Junior Basketball Association to rival the NCAA? Ball told everyone back in December that he was going to build a league for ballers fresh out of high school who don’t want to go to college, but can’t go straight to the pros because of the NBA’s 19-or-older age restriction.

The NBA is embracing LaVar Ball’s idea of starting a league for players who don’t want to go to college. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Well, it looks like the NBA may beat LaVar to it as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst recently reported that NBA commissioner Adam Silver is not only considering eliminating the “one-and-done” rule, but also wants the league to start developing relations with premiere players while they’re still in high school.

“We’ve talked a lot about youth development in terms of whether we should be getting involved in some of these young players even earlier than when they come into college,” Silver told ESPN. “And from a league standpoint, on one hand, we think we have a better draft when we’ve had an opportunity to see these young players play at an elite level before they come into the NBA. On the other hand, I think the question for the league is, in terms of their ultimate success, are we better off intersecting with them a little bit younger?”

According to Windhorst, Silver has already met with the NBA Players Association to put together a plan where the NBA will essentially offer an alternate route for players who want to go to pro at 18 instead of going to college – the plan will allow the super elite prospects (like LeBron James, who was drafted straight out of high school) to come straight to the NBA, while lesser-ready prospects would play in an improved and expanded version of the NBA’s G-League, where they’ll get paid to play, bringing life to Ball’s JBA idea.

The G-League already allows 18-year-olds to play, but according to reports, its players only make a maximum of $26,000 per season. Windhorst reported that the NBA may end up boosting salaries to match competing leagues, such as the Australian National Basketball League, which reportedly announced its plans to start a “Next Stars” program that will pay American players nearly $80,000 in salary to skip the one year at college and start their pro basketball careers in Australia instead.

But even the Australian National Basketball League sounds like it took LaVar Ball’s idea and ran with it. Ball said months ago his Junior Basketball Association would pay its players upwards of $10,000 a month per season. An NBA season—including training camp, preseason and the playoffs, can last anywhere from 8-10 months. If a JBA schedule mirrored a typical NBA schedule, a JBA player could’ve potentially made $80-100k for one season.

Now, it looks those same high school players will be wearing NBA jerseys, instead of Big Baller Brand, which is what they ultimately wanted all along. Just don’t forget to thank LaVar for being bold enough to set the blueprint.