LiAngelo Ball declared himself eligible to be drafted in the 2018 NBA Draft. A few hours later he went and scored 72 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in a Big Baller Challenge game. Impressive stat line, until you think about who the competition was. The Big Baller Challenge was more of a Big Baller Coasting as they played a youth team from China. Journalists covering the game referred to the match-up as “worthless”.
Besides Paul Pierce who was quoted as saying LiAngelo has a “good shot” at being drafted, no one believes Ball will be a consideration for any NBA team at this year’s draft. So, what will the middle Ball do if he’s not drafted and his workouts do not garner a free-agent contract from one of the 30 NBA teams? The G-League perhaps, or maybe he heads back overseas. Another option may be he considers taking his talents to football.
LiAngelo and the NFL
LiAngelo Ball’s 6’ 5” 216-pound frame lends him an opportunity to follow with other basketball players who turned into successful tight ends in the NFL. Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzales, and Jimmy Graham are all former college basketball players with the similar frame Ball has, who have been successful in the NFL. Basketball skills translate well to the current version of the NFL tight end where blocking is secondary and going up to catch the ball is at a premium.
This idea isn’t as far off as many will think. Benzinga’s Brett Hershman spoke with sports agent Darren Heitner who said, “You see basketball players mostly turn into tight ends; it’s not out of the realm of possibilities. You see basketball-build-types of athletes transition their skills, particularly to the tight end position.”
However, the list of basketball players who haven’t been a success in the NFL is much longer than the list of those that have had success. Even with LiAngelo’s dad, LaVar Ball’s, former limited football background, the realistic chance LiAngelo has of making a career in the NFL is slim, but not impossible. Ball will have other options as the NFL isn’t the only game in town anymore. Next year, after the Super Bowl, marks the arrival of The Alliance of American Football and the year after, Vince McMahon is reintroducing the XFL with a “reimagined” version of football.
LiAngelo and The Alliance of American Football
Charlie Ebersol, the son of NBC executive Dick Ebersol, and former partner with Vince McMahon on the first try of the XFL, announced that on February 9th, 2019, The Alliance of American Football would debut on CBS. The new league will have 8 teams, a 10-game regular season, and a 4-team playoff to decide the champion. Former Colts GM Bill Polian, former Steelers great Troy Polamalu, among other former NFL players, have been brought on in different capacities to help the league. With the significant declining NFL ratings the past two seasons, The Alliance of American Football is hoping to capitalize by gaining the NFL defectors. Also, the NFLPA and the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have been at odds for years. The Alliance has a real chance at pulling players from the NFL if the money and security in contracts is fair. This league will need big name players to draw attention to the brand in its inaugural season. The Ball name will do just that. If LiAngelo can learn simple routes, pick up some blocks, and catch the football, it would bring eyeballs to The Alliance of American Football’s games.
Then there is the obvious that comes along with any Ball child, their loudmouth Dad, LaVar. No matter what people think of him, he attracts cameras and the words that come out of his mouth draw ratings and are talked about everywhere. If LiAngelo Ball makes an Alliance roster, butts will be in the seats and LaVar, LiAngelo, and whatever team he plays for will be trending on Twitter.
The real problem for LiAngelo is he will be playing against NFL caliber talent in this league. Much like his brother Lonzo in the NBA, players on the other teams will be gunning for him. The difference is the players in The Alliance of American Football league can try to take LiAngelo’s head off.
LiAngelo and the XFL
Now this could be a match made in heaven. Vince McMahon is bringing back the hugely unsuccessful XFL in 2020. The XFL will have 8 teams and a 10-week regular season. Older and wiser, McMahon is touting a “shorter, faster-paced, family friendly and easier to understand game.” Thankfully, this version will have no crossover with the WWE.
LiAngelo Ball, even with little to no talent, could be a popular player in the XFL. Hell, his dad and two brothers, Lonzo and LaMelo, have appeared on a WWE broadcast and fit in perfectly. Think of the promos LaVar could cut about LiAngelo and his team. Even though McMahon mentioned a “family-friendly” XFL, it will still be crude, crass, and a perfect place for the Ball family to remain in the headlines.
Who knows, maybe the Big Baller Brand (BBB) can get into the football cleat market, make football uniforms, and promote their brand on a large-scale with McMahon’s money. LiAngelo may even have his dad as a head coach. LaVar could coach a football team, drawing on his former playing days as a tight end at Long Beach City College, just ask him.
LiAngelo and Who the Hell Knows?
Listening to the buzz, or lack thereof, of LiAngelo entering the 2018 NBA draft, it seems there is just a good of chance he ends up playing tight end for a football team. What football team and in what league remains to be seen. One thing is certain, if LiAngelo want to explore a football career, he will be afforded the opportunity because of the family brand LaVar has built for his family. It may be worth it for The Alliance of American Football or the XFL to bring LiAngelo in and let the LaVar antics begin. Ratings would be high when LiAngelo’s team takes the field, as LaVar’s words would certainly lead to some on field fireworks.