Young superstars made their first steps into the pros during the 2018 JBA League Media Day at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California on Monday morning, June 11th.
Media Day is the kickoff to training camp for the home opener next Thursday, June 21st at Citizens Business Bank Arena starting with the 5:00 PM game between the Chicago Ballers and the Atlanta Ballers followed by the 7:30 PM game between the New York Ballers and the Los Angeles Ballers featuring the JBA League’s Marquee Player, LaMelo Ball for the L.A. team. Tickets are on sale at jbaleague.com. The event started with Big Baller Brand Director, Alan Foster serving as the master of ceremonies. Alan introduced co-founders of the league, LaVar Ball and Los Angeles Lakers star point guard Lonzo Ball.
“Everybody has been talking about JBA isn’t going to work,” LaVar said to the crowd. “This is all the people we need in the building. The news said LaVar can’t get players and I don’t want those players. I want these guys right here, the hungry ones.” Following LaVar was three former UCLA superstars who spoke to the new pros and also members of the Advisory Board committee for the JBA League. 1995 NCAA Champion Ed O’Bannon spoke followed by former NBA player and head coach Earl Watson, followed after that by Lonzo Ball.
“This league is not for everybody.” Lonzo said to the JBA players. “I know people are going to tell you that the JBA is not going to work, but at the end of the day, you are part of history and no one can take that away from you. Now it’s up to you to make the opportunity work. If I had this, I’d definitely be here.”
Many sponsors were mentioned as partners of the JBA League including; Wells Fargo who will offer financial literacy for players, iHeart Media who will provide media training, and Behavior Autism Therapy Company was in attendance as well.
Big Boy, of Big Boy’s Neighborhood made an appearance to offer his support as a representative of iHeart Media.
The JBA will have 8 teams this season, but the Marquee Player will come from the Los Angeles Ballers, LaMelo Ball. LaMelo is excited for the opportunity and even more excited to be back in the states.
“I’m glad I’m back,” LaMelo said. “The JBA League is going to be historic. I’m just glad I’m back.”
Finally, it was time for the players to sign their contracts and hold their new jersey in front of family and friends, starting with the Atlanta Ballers. Chicago Ballers, New York Ballers, and Dallas Ballers soon followed.
One interesting team is the Seattle Ballers, which will be coached by a pair of NCAA Champions. Seattle will be coached by Charles O’ Bannon and assisted by Kris Johnson. Both players were also part of the 1995 UCLA Championship team.
“I know Kris Johnson and myself will give 1000 percent to give these guys get to the next level,” O’ Bannon said. “I have a son who is about the same age as these young men and so does Chris, so it feels right. We have raised our kids to play this game and to work hard. We are just going to instill everything that we have in these guys and try to achieve the ultimate goal.”
The ultimate goal is of course the JBA Championship. Along with winning the championship, the winning team will receive a new luxury car.
The Philadelphia Ballers went next, but the team that followed was the Houston Ballers, which had one of the most excited players to play in the league in Quan Vanputten. VanPutten signed his contract and kissed his jersey right after with a huge smile on his face as his dreams came true.
“It’s unreal,” VanPutten said. “This has been something I have thought about since I was a kid. I was just showing how I felt. I couldn’t hold it in no more. This is what you worked for. This is what you sleep about and dreamed about. I always created myself on 2K and think you’re living it and now I’m really living it. I’m a few steps closer to where I want to be with my goal.”
The Los Angeles Ballers went up last to sign their contract and receive their uniforms. Los Angeles looks like the favorites, but many think otherwise. Everyone will find out who the real Ballers are beginning next week as dreams become reality in Ontario on June 21st.