JBA League

LaVar Ball’s Inaugural Season of the JBA League Was an Overall Success — Just not for Brandon Phillips

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The JBA League recently wrapped up its first inaugural season with a victory by the Los Angeles Ballers at Citizens Business Bank Arena. As promised, players from the winning team were rewarded with a 2018 Cadillac ATS sedan, which were parked right outside for all to witness.

Unfortunatley, this news was overshadowed by the leeches in the media seeking to highlight a possible negative blip on what was an overwhelmingly successful first season for LaVar Ball’s JBA League.

It was reported recently by the Cycle’s Thomas Duffy, and published by Bleacher Report that former Los Angeles Ballers player, Brandon Phillips, was not compensated for his time in the JBA, and owed other monies for travel expenses etc.

First, I like Brandon Phillips. In no way will I paint this kid in a negative light. He’s a wonderful young man who did everything asked of him during his time in the JBA League.

He interviewed with me shortly after making the Los Angeles Ballers team back in April, and his excitement for being a part of history was evident. As a coach myself, I understand it is tough to release a player who is not performing to a standard — and at the end of the day — that’s what happened.

Brandon, along with other players from the Los Angeles team, were cut after four games into the season. This is not uncommon in professional leagues as we see this happen frequently. While it was hard for me personally to see this, I had to remind myself these players willingly signed a contract, which immediately made them professionals — thus potentially forfeiting any NCAA eligibility.

JBA players take photos in front of new cadillacs

The Los Angeles Ballers celebrated their championship by winning brand new 2018 Cadillac ATS sedans at Citizens Business Bank Arena. Photo by Cooper Neill

The truth in the matter is that all players were paid their due. It’s a harsh reality, but the real world is cold and hard. Those who have jobs have to pay for food and their own expenses — even during travel.

As for the JBA though — players were accommodated, and then some.

Let me address these items individually from Thomas‘ report:

1) “Had to pay for his own bags on every flight, so he saved nothing.”

I’ve spoken with several JBA players and each of them refuted this emphatically. One player stated, “No. The only time someone had to pay for their bags was if it was overweight, which Alan (Director of Big Baller Brand) reimbursed.”

Another player when asked if he ever paid for his bags denied this claim stating, “Never, not once. We usually flew South West (which waives bag fees), but the times we didn’t, money was provided for bags.”

Other players backed these same statements as well when asked specifically about travel fees.

2) “Owed two more checks but nobody’s returning his calls.”

I spoke with Brandon about this and he stands by his claim. I also spoke with JBA League officials who refute this stating, “All [cut] players were reimbursed for [any costs] prior to release.”

3) “Gave up his eligibility for ~ $1,000.”

I’m not going to give this last statement much time for reasons already stated. However, he gave up his eligibility for much more than that. Players in this league are pioneers. They are the first. The first to step out on a ledge and dare to be a part of something that may change the way the NCAA treats their players. They sacrificed a lot not just for themselves, but for their friends who’ve been screwed over in the past, present, and future by a system that has been riding players like Seattle Slew for decades, and pretending that a four-year degree is the equal tradeoff. Mind you, these same institutions have been making money hand over fist equating millions in dollars of yearly revenue to a scholarship that costs $10,000-$20,000 per year.

It’s laughable. And, it’s disgusting.

The bottom line is the JBA League is an imperfect league like the rest of them, but the fact that it exists is a win for every aspiring amateur athlete looking to start their professional career early — instead of the crooked NCAA route.

I don’t blame Brandon Phillips for being upset. Being a part of this league was a dream come true for many of the players, and not being able to see it all the way through is disappointing. The reality is Brandon was not the only player to be cut. From the players I’ve spoken to who too were dismissed, they were paid in full.

For over a year now, haters have been waiting for a LaVar Ball gotcha moment. An “I told you so” to back up their insecurities for hating a man whose done more in his life than they could ever dream — and does so unapologetically. Unfortunately (for them), this isn’t one of those moments.

I wish Brandon Phillips well, and believe he will do fine in whatever avenue he chooses. The JBA League has a promising future and has vastly exceeded all expectations. Remember, this league wasn’t even supposed to happen — right?

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