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#pounditMonday, January 17, 2022

LaMelo Ball

LaMelo Ball sued by publicist for millions over shoe deal

LaMelo Ball makes a hand gesture

LaMelo Ball signed a massive endorsement deal with Puma ahead of the 2020 NBA Draft, and a publicist claims the Charlotte Hornets star never paid her what he owed her for helping him secure the contract.

According to a lawsuit obtained by TMZ, publicist Amber Johnson says Ball hired her in 2019 to help him secure endorsement deals. She says she helped him land a video game streaming show, so Ball asked her to continue working with him. But after Ball signed his $100 million deal with Puma, Johnson says the 20-year-old never paid her.

Johnson says Ball and his representatives agreed to give her 10 percent of any business deal she helped Ball secure. She claims she helped facilitate Ball’s deal with Puma and is entitled to 10 percent of that, as well as $4,800 in expenses for which she was never reimbursed from various other projects.

Johnson is seeking damages in excess of $10 million.

Ball is averaging 19.3 points, 7.6 assists and 7.3 rebounds per game in his second NBA season. He has already made some noteworthy connections since coming into the league. Now, he’s facing his first mega-lawsuit.

Photo: Jan 8, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) reacts after making a three point basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second period at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

LaMelo Ball shares surprising change LaVar made for him in childhood

LaMelo Ball

LaVar Ball played a very active role in the upbringing and development of his three basketball-playing sons. Now the youngest one is sharing just how involved LaVar actually was.

Charlotte Hornets star LaMelo Ball spoke this week in an interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic. During the interview, LaMelo made the surprising revelation that he and middle brother LiAngelo were born left-handed but that LaVar changed them so that they would be right-handed.

“Me and my middle brother Gelo, we both were born left-handed and then our pops changed us,” said LaMelo. “When we eat at the table, [oldest Ball brother] Lonzo and my pops are right-handed so me and Gelo was hitting them. He changed all of us so we all right.

“I go back to left now,” added LaMelo. “Right when I left the house and everything, I did everything that I do with my left.”

The context of the question was how LaMelo is so fluid with both hands, his left hand just as effective as his right hand.

LaVar’s methods seem to have worked just fine. LaMelo is a great shooter, hitting 39.1 percent on threes and 90.1 percent on free throws this season. The same is true for LiAngelo, who is considered to be the best pure shooter in the family and is hitting 53.6 percent on threes for the Greensboro Swarm of the G League.

Obviously, LaVar has drawn plenty of infamy over the years due to his many boisterous comments, even as recently as this month. But you can’t say that he was not highly involved in the lives of his three sons.

Jul 5, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Basketball player LaMelo Ball in attendance of the New Orleans Pelicans against the New York Knicks game during the NBA Summer League at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

LaMelo Ball, Kobe Bryant share 1 key similarity, Hornets executive says

LaMelo Ball

An executive for the Charlotte Hornets can see a bit of the Mamba Mentality in LaMelo Ball.

Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak spoke this week with SI’s Chris Mannix for a feature on the 20-year-old Hornets star Ball. While Kupchak said that he would not compare Ball to the late Kobe Bryant, he did note one key similarity between the two players.

“Whether it’s making a bad pass or two because maybe he tries to stretch the limits of the pass, he’ll do it a third time,” said Kupchak of Ball. “If he misses two or three 3s, and there’s two minutes left to the game, he’ll take another one. He doesn’t get rattled, and he has great confidence in his abilities.”

Kupchak is more than qualified to speak on Bryant, having helped oversee Bryant’s entire progression in the NBA. Kupchak was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers’ front office from the time that Bryant was drafted in 1996 to the time that he retired in 2016. Unwavering confidence was indeed one of Bryant’s hallmarks as a player. He once famously said, “I would go 0-30 before I would go 0-9. 0-9 means you beat yourself, you psyched yourself out of the game.”

As for Ball, he is well on his way to greatness with 19.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 8.1 assists per game in just his second NBA season. Ball never loses his confidence, even when he does something embarrassing, and Kupchak believes that is definitely an important quality for Ball to have.

Photo: Jul 5, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Basketball player LaMelo Ball in attendance of the New Orleans Pelicans against the New York Knicks game during the NBA Summer League at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Video: LaMelo Ball’s showboat attempt backfired spectacularly

LaMelo Ball's showboat attempt

LaMelo Ball is known for playing with a lot of flair, but that blew up in his face magnificently on Wednesday.

The Charlotte Hornets phenom got a breakaway opportunity in the first half against the Orlando Magic and decided to add some extra style. He bounced the ball off the hardwood to himself and went up for the reverse dunk — the only problem was that he missed it.

What in the name of Mario Balotelli was that?

That is definitely not the type of play you should be pulling in a two-point game, and Hornets coach James Borrego made sure to let Ball know about it. He immediately subbed Ball out after the gaffe and kept him on the bench for the rest of the half. Fortunately for the Hornets however, they held on to win 106-99 despite Ball’s boneheaded play.

The 20-year-old Ball is already one of the flashiest players in the league and can produce some real box-office highlights when he is on point. Ironically though, what we saw from Ball instead on Wednesday was one of the NBA’s biggest lowlights in a while.

Hornets coach calls out LaMelo Ball over one particular bad habit

LaMelo Ball

James Borrego seems to think that LaMelo Ball looks very much his age in one particular aspect of the game.

After the Charlotte Hornets lost in overtime to the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, Borrego, the team’s head coach, called out Ball for his bad habit of getting into foul trouble early in games.

“He’s trying to do the right thing in his mind,” said Borrego, per Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer. “He’s trying to make a winning play. He’s trying to help the team going after a basketball or making a steal. But at times he just needs to be solid and get back on defense. Don’t try to get it back every single possession.

“That’s on me to teach him, coach him, hold him accountable,” Borrego went on about Ball. “It’s on him to understand that and not keep making that mistake, especially in first quarters. We can’t get off to a start where he’s getting consistently two fouls to start games and getting him on the sideline. That’s part of his maturity, his growth and that’s on me as well.”

Boone adds that Ball has picked up 40 fouls in Charlotte’s first 12 games and has even fouled out twice. Many of them are unnecessary reach-in fouls that put the Hornets at a disadvantage.

The 20-year-old Ball recently seemed ticked about his inconsistent minutes. But if he simply learns how to play smarter defense without fouling, that could solve everybody’s problems here.

H/T NBA Reddit

Photo: Jul 5, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Basketball player LaMelo Ball in attendance of the New Orleans Pelicans against the New York Knicks game during the NBA Summer League at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

LaMelo Ball appears to have criticism of Hornets coach

LaMelo Ball

The Charlotte Hornets’ fourth-quarter meltdown against the LA Clippers on Sunday had star point guard LaMelo Ball feeling some type of way.

After the Hornets allowed the Clippers to go on a late 22-0 run and lost by a 120-106 final, Ball appeared to have a criticism of coach James Borrego.

“I feel like I’ve got to be in there longer for the fourth quarter, you feel me?” said Ball, per Ben Golliver of the Washington Post. “I feel like I came in a little late in the game.”

Ball, who is averaging 20.0 points in 30.4 minutes a game this year, exited at the end of the third quarter with the Hornets trailing 89-87. But he came into the game with 6:07 left and Charlotte leading 102-95. That means that the majority of the Clippers’ run actually came with Ball on the floor.

The 20-year-old Ball has been playing with a lot of juice this season. But his inconsistent defense causes him to cede a few minutes per game to reserves like Kelly Oubre or Caleb Martin. You do generally want the leader of your team to have the competitive attitude that Ball exhibited here. But he still has some room for improvement before he sees a true star’s workload of around 35-plus minutes per game.

Photo: Jul 5, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Basketball player LaMelo Ball in attendance of the New Orleans Pelicans against the New York Knicks game during the NBA Summer League at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Video: LaMelo Ball taunted opponent after scoring on him

LaMelo Ball taunting an opponent

LaMelo Ball may be a 20-year-old in his second NBA season, but he is already playing with the swagger of a seasoned veteran.

The Charlotte Hornets star went viral during Wednesday’s game against the Orlando Magic for a spicy sequence in the first half. Ball drove on Magic guard Jalen Suggs and hit an off-balance push shot over him. As he went back up the floor, Ball taunted Suggs by making the “too small” gesture.

It was a nice bit of revenge for Ball after Suggs’ teammate Cole Anthony turned him around on defense earlier in the quarter.

At 6-foot-7, Ball towers over most other point guards in the league, even Suggs at 6-foot-5. Suggs is also in his rookie season for the Magic, so this may have been Ball giving him a “welcome to the NBA” moment.

Earlier in the week, another opponent took a shot at Ball for his flashy style. But if he keeps producing highlights like this one, we can’t really complain.

Celtics player dissed LaMelo Ball after win over Hornets

LaMelo Ball

One Boston Celtics player sounded very happy to get the last laugh on LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night.

After the Celtics beat the Hornets in a hard-fought overtime contest, Celtics guard Marcus Smart took a shot at his younger counterpart Ball. Smart was on the receiving end of a Ball highlight in the third quarter. The 20-year-old crossed over Smart and hit a stepback three in his face.

“It happens,” said Smart of the play, per Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports. “I’m a defender. Just like a shot blocker, you’re gonna get dunked on a few times. All he did was make a good move, stopped, and I just stopped.

“As we know, a player like him, I’m gonna make up for it, and I did it twice,” Smart went on. “He’s going to get all of the Overtime, House of Highlights, SportsCenter and all that. But we got the win and that’s all that matters.”

Smart is right that Ball gets a lot of love from highlight-driven social media pages. With his snazzy full-court passes and his unlimited range from deep, Ball’s flamboyant style of play is perfect content for the modern era of sports consumption. Even Ball’s style off the court is pretty flashy too.

The two-time All-Defensive First Teamer Smart is the complete antithesis of that though. He will never find himself on any highlight page unless it is for chasing down a loose ball or putting the clamps on someone in crunch time. Smart and the Celtics must be very pleased that their style won out Monday.

Photo: Jul 5, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Basketball player LaMelo Ball in attendance of the New Orleans Pelicans against the New York Knicks game during the NBA Summer League at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Twitter reacts to LaMelo Ball talking with Jay-Z

LaMelo Ball and Jay-Z talking

Jay-Z was dropping platinum bars well before LaMelo Ball was even born, but that did not stop the two of them from linking up on Sunday.

The rap mogul and Brooklyn Nets fan Jay-Z caught up with the Charlotte Hornets star Ball during halftime of the two teams’ contest. Take a look.

Fans were quick to react with funny tweets about what the two might have been talking about. Here were some of the best ones.

Though he used to be a minority owner of the Nets, Jay-Z has since sold his stake in the team. For the record, Ball is also already a client of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports. That means that the two had the all clear from a tampering standpoint, making this conversation no different than one between, say, Drake and Kevin Durant.

The most likely scenario is that Jay-Z was talking to Ball about linking up on a new clothing line after seeing Ball’s elite postgame fit from the other day.

Look: LaMelo Ball had a must-see outfit after Hornets game

LaMelo Ball

LaMelo Ball is apparently looking to elevate his game both on and off the court in his second NBA season.

Ball made quite the statement in the Charlotte Hornets’ 123-122 win in their season opener against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. He led the Hornets with 31 points on 11-of-23 shooting. He also had a team-high 7 assists and grabbed 9 rebounds. The performance was noteworthy, but not quite as noteworthy as the outfit he wore before and after the game.

Ball arrived at the Spectrum Center in the same getup. The eccentric suit was the exact same color as his car.

A lot of people joked that Ball looked like Jim Carey’s character from “The Mask.”

The look was similar to one we saw James Harden wear a few years back. We can’t wait to see what else LaMelo comes up with this season.

Photo: Jul 5, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Basketball player LaMelo Ball in attendance of the New Orleans Pelicans against the New York Knicks game during the NBA Summer League at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports