LaMelo Ball had an incredible first season in the NBA. The rookie sensation put up great stats and helped lead the Charlotte Hornets to the Play-In Tournament. Despite missing significant time with an injured wrist, he took home the 2021-22 Rookie of the Year Award.
As the toast of the Class of 2021, there is a lot of interest in Ball this offseason. He was recently the subject of an in-depth GQ profile. The 19-year-old, who left high school early to go pro overseas, took the opportunity to share his thoughts on the value of education. His comments received a lot of attention. Shortly after the article came out, the star (and his PR team) quickly walked back the remarks.
LaMelo Ball took a long road to the NBA
Following a dispute between his father and the Chino Hills High basketball coach, Ball left school to play professional basketball. He and his brother LiAngelo, signed with Ball signed with Prienai of the Lithuanian Basketball League (LKL). Another father/coach dispute led to LaMelo returning to the States. He next played for the Los Angeles Ballers in a league set up by his dad.
After a brief return to American high school hoops, Ball spent a season with the Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League (NBL) in Australia.
Following all this globe-hopping, Ball declared for the NBA Draft in 2021. The Charlotte Hornets took the point guard with the No. 3 overall pick.
Ball rewarded Michael Jordan and the Hornets by putting up 15.7 points, 6.1 assists, and 5.9 rebounds per game in just 51 appearances. He still convincingly won the ROY award over the Minnesota Timberwolves Anthony Edwards and Tyrese Haliburton of the Sacramento Kings despite the truncated season.
Ball had some choice words about the value of education
To find out more about this burgeoning NBA star, writer Tyler R. Tynes wrote a long, in-depth profile of LaMelo Ball for GQ. Despite his newfound NBA stardom, Ball comes across as an immature teenager in the piece, playing video games, talking trash, and driving his “garish sherbet orange Lambo around Charlotte.”
The most controversial quotes of the piece came when Tynes and Ball discussed the importance of education for the player who left school at the age of 15. When asked about starting his professional career so early, Ball pontificated about the importance of schooling for those who believe the NBA is in their future:
You wanna go to the league, so school’s not your priority. We not trippin’ off school. We not dumb. We know how to learn. We don’t need school. And school not even teachin’ you s— —what the f— is school?”LaMelo Ball in GQ
While school isn’t for everyone and, in LaMelo’s case, his unorthodox teen years seem to have worked out for the best, these comments were still shocking.
The star quickly walked back his disparaging comments
Whether there was a specific backlash to the comments or someone on the Ball’s PR team just read them and immediately recognized the potential issues, LaMelo was quick to reframe his words after the article came out.
The Hornets star took to Instagram with messages clarifying his comments. He did so in the most LaMelo Ball way possible. In a series of posts, he wrote, “let me rephrase…school not for EVERYBODY.” Then, “now if you wanna be a doctor… BETTER TAKE THAT A– TO SCHOO.”
His last message spoke directly to his school-age fans who read the quotes:
so please don’t b going to ya mommas talkin bout some ion wanna do school “melo said u don’t need it” when u not like tht and not all the way invested in ya PLAN A which in my case was the (league)via @melo on Instagram
Strong words from Melo. However, his (kind of?) encouraging kids to stay in school may not have the desired effect of halting the backlash. While Ball might not believe in the value of formal education, hopefully, he learned something from this experience sharing his unfiltered thoughts with a reporter.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference