ONTARIO (CBSLA) — It’s a promise from the larger-than-life NBA dad and reality TV star many doubted, but LaVar Ball kicked off his new basketball league’s inaugural season Thursday with dozens of players hoping the reach their hoop dreams.
“This is my dream, just to play basketball and not worry about nothing,” said Seattle Baller Jamichael Morgan. He is one of 64 players, along with Ball’s son Lamelo, taking part in LaVar’s new, eight-team Junior Basketball Association. Lamelo’s older brother Lonzo currently plays for the Lakers.
JBA is described as an alternative to the NCAA for those who, for whatever reason, cannot attend college.
“This is a big opportunity, not only for kids that come straight out of high school,” said Moises Burgos with the New York Ballers. “You know, there’s kids that think if they don’t go Division 1 college, they think their dreams are over, and, honestly, it’s not so. I thank LaVar a lot for this opportunity.”
The senior Ball knows many doubted him when he set out to create this league, but he said that’s because they didn’t understand what he was trying to do.
“I’m not competing with no G league, not competing with no NCAA. I’m doing my own thing,” Ball told CBS2 News. “When you get a bunch of guys like this, a bunch of dogs all in one room, it’s a beautiful product.”
Fans seem to like what they’ve seen so far.
“To me, it’s innovative,” Marcial Sigila of Rialto told CBS2. “It’s showcasing what the up-and-coming talent is going to provide us.”
“I believe it’s a very exploitative system, the college system forcing kids to play for free before they can chase their dreams,” said Clif Means of Oakland. “Golfers and tennis players and hockey players skip the college process all the time.”
The attendance at the JBA’s inaugural game at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario Thursday was not great, but players are confident more fans will come as the season progresses.
As for Ball, he’s not sweating it. He said if he’d listen to the haters and doubters, he never would have gotten the league off the ground in the first place.
For now, JBA games can only be watched on Facebook Live.