How LaVar and LaMelo Ball outsmarted the student-athlete industrial complex

The NBA’s most notorious father gave plenty of prophecies that failed to come true. But it’s hard to argue his plans for his youngest son haven’t worked out

Late last Sunday, as we the punters were still smarting from the chaos of the NCAA tournament’s opening rounds, came more distressing news from the NBA: LaMelo Ball, the Charlotte Hornets’ dazzling young point guard, was in danger of missing the rest of the season after fracturing his wrist. As upsets go this was way worse than Florida falling to 15th-seeded Oral Roberts. This was like if WandaVision wrapped its season after the third episode. No! The full picture was only just coming into focus!

The third overall selection in last year’s draft, Ball was the feelgood story of this NBA season: basketball’s enfant terrible made good. Great, even. Consider: He no-look passed his way off the bench in 20 games. He became the first player in 60 years to lead all rookies in points, rebounds, assists and steals heading into the All-Star break – at the tender age of 19 to boot. Since his promotion to the starting lineup in February, Ball had been averaging 19.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.7 steals. That production didn’t just rate favorably among the league’s top floor generals; it had lifted Charlotte out of the Eastern Conference cellar and into postseason picture for the first time in years. Not since Muggsy Bogues was leading the fast break with Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson have the Hornets been this, well, buzz-worthy.

Related: Will LeBron James turn out to be the Boston Red Sox’ unlikely savior?

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