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LiAngelo’s Shoplifting? A Handy Twist for ‘Ball in the Family’

November 14th, 2017 · No Comments · Basketball, NBA, UCLA

Reality TV shows based on news-making families cannot be all goodness and light.

Some weird stuff going on? Some family tension? That helps feed interest in shows like Keeping up with the Kardashians, which has been runnnig since 2007. And, also, about the Balls and their much more recent reality debut.

LiAngelo Ball’s run-in with police in China? (Which ended Tuesday when he and two UCLA teammates got on a plane headed for Los Angeles.) That may not be good for the 2017-18 stats of LiAngelo, the middle of LaVar Bell’s three sons, but it could be reality-TV gold for LaVar & Co.

If Lonzo, a rookie with the Los Angeles Lakers, is (maybe) the star in the making, and little brother LaMelo is the brash gunner and “cute one” who could have a significant career …

LiAngelo can be cast as the edgy rebel.

His and his teammates’ sticky fingers created an international incident in China that deeply embarrassed UCLA, the Pac-12 and the U.S. government (and just about everyone who isn’t LaVar)– and that sets LiAngelo and his weirdly cropped eyebrows on the way to “bad boy” billing.

(And everyone loves a bad boy. A staple of theater/drama since the Greeks.)

LaVar Ball, pater familias of the Ball reality show (seen on Facebook) and founder of the Big Baller Brand line of shoes and apparel, certainly must see the creative possibilities here.


–In the next week or two we see LaVar and LiAngelo in a room, going over the shoplifting/UCLA train wreck. “What were you thinking?” “I thought some news sunglasses would look nice.” “You know you have to pay for that stuff, right?” “I do now.”

And so on.

–In a few weeks, the show comes back to LiAngelo, after episodes around Lonzo’s most recent 1-for-9 rookie-season performance (which is something short of “success” so far, but no matter; and LaMelo being home-schooled and going to the orthodontist.

–Then it is back to LiAngelo, sitting on a couch in Chino Hills, plotting his UCLA comeback — or deciding on a transfer to a school where he is not looked upon as a source of extreme embarrassment of a global variety.

And so on.

In future years, as LaMelo goes to UCLA (or doesn’t, after LaVar gets mad at a season-long suspension of LiAngelo and sends LaMelo off to another college) … the show can follow LiAngelo, hanging out with a sketchy crowd, leaving LaVar to fret about his future. (This is great TV.)

Eventually, an episode or two is based on LiAngelo in the NBA’s development league, playing in Fort Wayne or Sioux Falls or Oshkosh, where he is known as “the one Trump saved from jail” … eventually shifting to more remote locales in Europe or the Middle East, where second-tier basketball talent congregates to make a living — if not a particularly lavish one — and the girlfriends are exotic. (And, in a way, LiAngelo’s peregrinations will seem perhaps more interesting — and authentic — than Lonzo’s developing career as an off-the-bench guy.)

Producers will suggest another “LiAngelo off the grid” episode, with LaVar and his wife, Tina, worrying about what he is up to, almost out of the game at the age of 23, and thinking he can come home and get a job with Dad in the Big Baller Brand offices. (Sort of like the grandson in Pawn Stars.)

The point is this: LaVar is clever enough not to look at LiAngelo’s China Road Trip and Extended Hotel Stay as a “Ball in the Family” setback. It is a reality opportunity!

None of those dreary Kardashians ever got themselves detained by Chinese police. None of them needed a president’s plea.

Hell, I might even watch.



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