The coach of a Lithuanian basketball team lashed out at the Ball family and Big Baller Brand on Thursday, four months after LaVar Ball abruptly pulled his sons off the squad and reportedly took his company’s financial support with him.
“The first and most crucial mistake we made was allowing them, especially LaVar, think that they are in charge of the club — its decisions, its plans and even the game,” coach Virginijus Seskus said in a statement released by the Prienai-Birstonas Vytautas, now known as BC Prinai-Skycop, of the Lithuanian league on Thursday.
“His boys were nowhere near the level of the LKL, let alone NBA, which the league obviously understands, seeing the draft outcome.”
LiAngelo,19, and LaMelo Ball, who turned 17 on Wednesday, signed with the team in December. They made their professional debuts the following month, combining for 29 points in what was one of just eight wins for the team that season.
At that time, the team also announced it would form a series of exhibition games against the other league teams called the Big Baller Brand Challenge, named after the Ball family business. LaVar Ball even got to serve as head coach in one of those games, with his sons combining for 71 points in the 151-120 victory.
The Ball family — minus oldest brother, Lonzo, who was in the middle of his rookie season with the Lakers — was a big deal when they first got to Lithuania, accompanied by the film crew for their Facebook reality show. The crowds were huge for the brothers’ initial games with the team and more than 120,000 people watched their Lithuanian debut on Facebook.
But the brothers weren’t able to live up to the incredible hype. LiAngelo Ball averaged 12.6 points in 14 games, but ended up sidelined with an ankle injury. LaMelo Ball saw his playing time decrease as the season went on and ended up averaging 6.5 points in eight games.
“The most disappointing fact was that they had no inner drive to become better,” Seskus said. “And when they saw it was going nowhere, they started destroying the club, not paying out prize money to the Big Baller Brand tournament winners, etc.”
Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas told USA Today “people got bored” with the Ball family act and game attendance and viewership dropped dramatically, with only “5 or 6,000 people” watching by the end.
That end came in late April, when LaVar Ball announced his sons were leaving the team, with two games remaining in the season.
“We’re not going to waste our time no more,” he told reporters in Lithuania.
According to the team’s press release, the relationship with the Ball family also had been a financial one. When the Balls left, the team stated, they took their money — as well as “shooting machines that were presented as gifts to the club” — with them.
““It was a short-term move, and it did the job,” Seskus said of the business relationship with Big Baller Brand. “The club survived and that is the most important fact.”