'I just took the long path:' LiAngelo Ball chasing NBA dream in Oklahoma City
LiAngelo Ball knows how he’s perceived.
He’s the middle brother in a famous but often-mocked basketball family. Lonzo, his older brother, was a five-star prospect and a top-five NBA draft pick. LaMelo, his younger brother, might be even better than Lonzo.
Meanwhile, LiAngelo has been living in Oklahoma City since December as a G League practice player. On Monday, the OKC Blue signed him to a G League contract.
“I believe in myself that I can make the NBA,” LiAngelo said Tuesday. “That’s why I’ve been playing and didn’t quit. I just took the long path and that’s what it’s going to have to be.”
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As for his other options?
“I didn’t really have any,” Ball said.
He worked out for the Blue at the G League Winter Showcase in Las Vegas.
“They just gave me a chance,” Ball said, “and told me to come out here and start from the bottom up.”
Ball signed with UCLA in 2017 but never played for the Bruins. On an exhibition trip in China before the 2017-18 season, he and two of his teammates were arrested for shoplifting. Ball withdrew from UCLA after receiving an indefinite suspension.
LiAngelo and LaMelo played professionally in Lithuania for one season, and then briefly in the Junior Basketball Association — a league created by their father, LaVar Ball.
“I just got smarter and older, really,” LiAngelo said of his time off. “More mature on the court. I don’t make that many mistakes. I don’t do dumb passes and stuff.”
He moved to Oklahoma City without the promise of even a G League contract. But now that he has that, his long-term goal is to play in the NBA like Lonzo. And soon, LaMelo.
“I know I’m just as good as them because I grew up training with them,” LiAngelo said. “If they can get it done I feel like I can do it too. That just motivates me more.”