Foster was accused of not being able to account for $1.5 million, before he then levied an allegation that LaVar had embezzled $2.5 million from their companies. Asked about the future of the company, considering Foster’s pending civil suit, LaVar went on the offensive. “Alan Foster, what he gonna do? Everything he’s done is false, it’s fake,” LaVar said. “It’s just like the documents that’s been signed. They’ll find out that he forged them. Therefore, I’m still gonna go forward… he don’t stop nothing. His last name is Foster. Originally, we are a family brand. I tried to help him out by bringing him into the family. That’s why I don’t worry about the things that he says, and the childish things.”
More Rumors in this Storyline
LaVar Ball is “restructuring” Big Baller Brand and plans to launch a new website, according to a company spokesman. The company has been effectively defunct for several months in the wake of a financial and legal dispute with his former business partner Alan Foster. The company’s previous website now redirects to a webinar featuring Foster.
“The Big Baller Brand is alive and well,” Denise White, a representative for LaVar Ball, told ESPN. “The brand has been restructuring and we are working to reveal the new website in the next few weeks. It will have a new look and new name (www.BigBallerBrandInc.com). “LaVar Ball has put a great team of seasoned industry professionals in place to move the brand forward with exciting new products along with signature shoes and sportswear under the Ball name. Unfortunately Alan Foster continues to try and leverage the Ball Family name for his own gain. Alan Foster is a convicted felon who served seven years in jail for defrauding people out of their money. He is a thief and con man and cannot be believed or trusted.”
Darren Rovell: The Big Baller Brand is officially dead. The site now forwards to the Baller Financial Network, created by LaVar’s former business partner Alan Foster, who the Balls are suing for allegedly embezzling $1.5 million from Lonzo.
LA Sports Radio: Things keep getting worse for Big Baller Brand, if you go to their site you get redirected to Alan Foster’s personal site 😂
LaVar Ball and the Big Baller Brand are preparing for the future, but they still don’t have a commitment from their brightest young star, LaMelo Ball. In this week’s episode of “Ball in the Family,” LaMelo told Big Baller Brand’s pitch team that he’s going to take his time and weigh all of his options before deciding who he’s going to sign a shoe deal with. TMZ Sports reported that Nike was one of the shoe companies “actively scouting” the 18-year-old guard. “[Big Baller Brand] giving me things to think about that and I appreciate that. But the brands not where my head is. Right now, it’s just on basketball. It’s pretty much my main focus,” LaMelo said.
LaVar Ball is firing back at his ex-BBB business partner Alan Foster … claiming the scathing allegations against LaVar in a new lawsuit are total BBBS. “Alan Foster’s claims are not only unfounded and devoid of any truth, but are an egregious attempt to turn the attention away from the millions of dollars that he embezzled from the Ball Family and the Ball Family Business,” Ball said in a statement. “Not only will LaVar Ball and his family continue to vigorously pursue their civil action against Foster seeking civil damages, but will also continue to cooperate with law enforcement in order to seek justice for his egregious actions.” “The Ball family are all united in relentlessly pursuing Foster for his grave injustices, and will always fight to protect the respected Ball family name, despite Foster’s futile attempt to defile it.”
Ramona Shelburne: Ball Family statement: “Alan Foster’s claims are not only unfounded and devoid of any truth, but are an egregious attempt to turn the attention away from the millions of dollars that he embezzled from the Ball Family and the Ball Family Business. Not only will LaVar Ball and his family continue to vigorously pursue their civil action against Foster seeking civil damages, but will also continue to cooperate with law enforcement in order to seek justice for his egregious actions.”
Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball and his father, LaVar, have been countersued by their former business partner, Alan Foster, for fraudulent concealment and breach of contract. According to legal documents obtained by The Blast, Foster alleges that LaVar Ball embezzled more than $2.6 million from Big Baller Brand and other companies associated with the Ball family, including Ball Sports Group, to fund his own extravagant lifestyle.
With LaMelo Ball reportedly open to signing a shoe contract outside of the Big Baller Brand, TMZ Sports has learned Nike has a serious interest in working with the 18-year-old. Our Nike sources tell us … the company is actively scouting the youngest Ball brother and even has a scout in Australia monitoring him as plays pro ball overseas.
Lonzo enters the 2019-20 season with a new team — and with new shoes on his feet. On The Woj Pod, he explained how he wouldn’t do anything different and has no regrets about wearing Big Baller Brand shoes to begin his NBA career. “It was different, but at the same time, we were trying to build a brand,” Lonzo said about coming out of UCLA and wearing his own shoes. “I had to wear them. But there was no way we could play in the shoes I had in summer league. There was no way they would make it to the NBA court. “I’m grateful we got to link up with Brandblack for getting me a better shoe. … I played in Kobes my whole life, then switching it up at the last stage, it was different for me. But I don’t make excuses. I don’t regret anything I did.”
What followed was an exchange already seen in a “Ball in the Family” trailer, with Lonzo getting real with LaVar about the brand and Foster: LONZO: The brand is demolished right now. LAVAR: That’s how you feel, “The brand is demolished.” LONZO: That’s how everybody feels. LAVAR: Who’s everybody? LONZO: The world. The consumers. LAVAR: The world? That’s the consumers you’ve talked to? LONZO: Yeah, it’s all messed up right now. LAVAR: Why is it messed up? Because one person did something bad? LONZO: He was the main person. LAVAR: He wasn’t the main person. LONZO: He ran everything.
Hart and ball were talking about their first year and playing Summer League as rookies when Hart, who had gotten injured but was still on the bench brought up the Big Baller Z02 shoes and Ball had one hell of a story to tell. “It was literally at least four or five times a game, they flashed Zo’s shoes on the big screen, it was just what shoes he had on,” Hart said before Ball interjected. “No one knows the real story about them shoes though,” Ball said. “Those Z02s I was playing in, they was not ready. “No one knows this but DMo (Harrison Gaines) had a backpack and an extra four pairs of shoes in there and I had to change them every quarter because they would just rip.
“If you have my shoes from those games they just exploded, I don’t know how we didn’t get caught.” Asked why he persisted with a shoe that wasn’t close to safe Ball simply said he had to due to being too far down the rabbit hole. ”They was my shoe, we had to debut them — we went so far with it and I am like ‘cool I can get a quarter in’ but nobody noticed and by the end of that quarter they were beat up. “And when I changed them I was like ‘damn I’m good again’. “The real truth — I was scared.”
LaVar Ball is NOT folding the Big Baller Brand — in fact, it’s the opposite — he’s expanding BBB with plans to make it bigger than ever, TMZ Sports has learned. LaVar has had some big problems with BBB recently — claiming cofounder Alan Foster stole a FORTUNE from the company and his son, Lonzo Ball.
Plenty of personal topics were discussed including meeting LeBron for the first time as well as the whole ordeal that’s transpired with Lonzo’s former business partner and mentor, Alan Foster. The topic of Ball’s relationship with Foster was discussed in reference to Lonzo’s dad LaVar Ball. Lonzo talked about bringing up the alleged money laundering with Foster to his dad: “It wasn’t hard. Because people, how they see my dad in the media is how they see him. But me, I can tell him anything. But I would say that’s the first time I called him and he literally shut up. I would say that. I looked at DMo, I had him on speaker, I’m like ‘He ain’t talking.’ He always talking. That was the first time I was like ‘No, you need to listen.’ So, that was hard, Because that was the first time I ever told him like ‘Let me talk.’ And he stopped and I pulled up to the house that night and laid it out for him. And then we been moving forward ever since.”
Last fall, Humble Lukanga was doing Ball’s accounting when he discovered that about $1.5 million was missing from Ball’s personal and business accounts. Lukanga alerted Ball, who has since sued Alan Foster, a business partner and family friend, for more than $2 million in damages as part of a lawsuit that alleges that Foster embezzled money from Ball and Big Baller Brand, the sneaker company that Ball co-founded.
“Without Humble, I don’t know where I’d be right now,” Ball said in a telephone interview. “I’d be in a very, very bad situation.” He added: “We’ll have a two-hour meeting set up, and I’ll end up talking to him for eight hours. There’s nothing fake coming from him, which is hard to find these days.”
The FBI is investigating whether the longtime business manager of Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball and his family defrauded them of millions of dollars, according to two law enforcement officials. Until recently, Ball said he and his family had no idea that Gregory Alan Foster, who he described as “like my second dad,” had served time in federal prison for taking part in a scheme that deprived investors of $3.735 million.
Authorities say the investigation is focused on allegations included in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court this month by Lonzo Ball and Big Baller Brand. The suit alleges Foster took more than $1.5 million out of the company’s bank accounts and accepted “substantial undisclosed referral fees” from at least eight loans he arranged on behalf of the company.
Seems Lonzo Ball may have had a change of heart about the Big Baller Brand boycott — because he’s rocking his signature ZO2 slides again … even after covering his BBB tattoo. The L.A. Lakers star wasn’t talking when we spotted him at LAX on Monday — but he made a pretty big statement with his footwear … the famous $200 Big Baller Brand slides.
Kyle Goon: Lonzo Ball on the Alan Foster/BBB situation: “My family is always going to be close. Unfortunately we had a bad seed. Glad we found it sooner rather than later.” Says he’s still talking about whether he’ll have business ties to BBB, but he’s not focused on it right now.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball filed suit late Tuesday night against the former co-founder and manager of Big Baller Brand, Alan Foster, for more than $2 million plus interest in damages, alleging that he “conspired to embezzle millions of dollars and then divert those funds for his personal use, including to acquire assets in Ethiopia.”
In court documents obtained by ESPN, which were filed electronically on Tuesday night in Los Angeles Superior Court and are expected to be processed Wednesday morning, Ball alleges that “shortly after his release from prison, Foster embarked on his plan to target Ball and his family” and then “fleeced them of millions of dollars” by “creating a variety of corporate entities in which he gave himself ownership interests and managerial control.”
Nick DePaula: While players have been intrigued by the concept of ‘Ownership vs Endorsement’ since Big Baller Brand launched, we won’t see Zion Williamson go the independent route. A candid Sonny Vaccaro on the BBB premise:
Lonzo Ball’s split from the Big Baller Brand apparently took an even more permanent step Tuesday when he had his BBB tattoo on his arm permanently covered by a new tattoo by his regular tattoo artist. There’s no turning back once you do that.
Ramona Shelburne: The Ball Family had discussions over the weekend about folding @bigballerbrand and anything associated with Alan Foster. Story coming shortly on ESPN.
B/R Kicks: Lonzo Ball’s manager @dmoore_1 just posted this. 👀 #dumpurmerch pic.twitter.com/VLjkrxSn3u
Nick DePaula: This is explosive and unfortunate. Great reporting by @ramonashelburne & team. By doing the Big Baller Brand venture as a rookie, Lonzo passed on pursuing a traditional shoe deal that could have been worth $15 Million over 5 years, according to several brand sources.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball has severed ties with a co-founder of Big Baller Brand over concerns that the longtime family friend has a criminal past and also has not adequately accounted for the whereabouts of roughly $1.5 million from Ball’s personal and business accounts.
Ball told ESPN that he believes that Alan Foster, a friend of Lonzo’s father for almost a decade who owns 16.3 percent of Big Baller Brand, had “used his access to my business and personal finances to enrich himself. As a result, I have decided to sever all ties with Alan, effective immediately.”
Sources close to the Ball family told ESPN that Lonzo expressed his concerns about Foster to his father several times over the past few months but deferred to LaVar to manage the situation. It wasn’t until this week, the same sources said, that LaVar fully reviewed the email warnings and documents from Lukanga, as he had been traveling overseas with his younger sons in the fall. The sources described LaVar as “stunned” when the emails and documents were read to him. LaVar declined comment but issued a statement to ESPN calling the situation “devastating.”
Lonzo Ball’s first signature shoe from his father’s Big Baller Brand went for an absurd $495 with an even more absurd no-return, exchange or refund policy. While Lonzo spent much of the season and this preseason wearing Nike sneakers, LaVar Ball is back with another shoe for his son. This time, the asking price is more reasonable – albeit still expensive. In a video with SLAM Online, Lonzo and Big Baller Brand unveiled the ZO2.19 sneakers. The company has the shoe priced at $200, which puts it around $15 more expensive than LeBron James’ Nike LeBron 16 sneakers.
Lonzo Ball’s famous Big Baller Brand arm tattoo was covered up during his pre-season debut with the Lakers on Wednesday night … and it’s all because the NBA asked him to keep it under wraps. Just like J.R. Smith, the NBA reached out to Ball about his tattoo — and reminded him about a league rule that prohibits players from “displaying any commercial logos or corporate insignia on their body or in their hair.”
Smith has the “Supreme” logo on his right leg — and said the NBA told him he’d be fined for every game it wasn’t covered up. Since the same rules apply to Ball — with BBB being an apparel brand — the Lakers tell us he decided to put tape (it could be a bandage) over the logo while the team played the Golden State Warriors at T-Mobile Arena in Vegas.
The Big Baller Brand’s unveiling of LaMelo Ball’s “Melo Ball 1” shoe could turn out to be a game-changer in more ways than one. As LaVar Ball explained to a staffer at the Professional Basketball Combine in Florida—where LiAngelo Ball is due to audition on Wednesday—Melo becoming the first high-school kid with his own signature basketball shoe could spark NBA players, most of whom don’t have their own kicks, to seek out their own silhouettes. “Everybody gonna start going like this, ‘You know what? I want my own damn shoe,’” the Ballfather explained. “If I have Melo come out at 16 years old in high school with a shoe, I make all the NBA players look at Nike and Adidas and be like, ‘Where’s my signature shoe?’”
Rather than bide his time for Nike, Adidas or Under Armour to come calling with a contract, the Big Baller recommended that Wall put his own reputation and riches on the line to make a sneaker. “He’s an elite player and one of the best guards,” LaVar continued. “It’s like, ‘Dude, you’re a millionaire, make your own money’…Why are you waiting for Adidas or Nike or somebody to sign you to a shoe deal? The man’s an idiot.”
LaVar Ball: “The market is going to be good here because now, we’re not just Big Baller Brand around the corner. We’re in Lithuania, and that means you’re global. And when you get global, now you’ve got Europeans liking you, the states liking you, over in China liking you. We’re bigger than just a Nike brand that’s in Portland. You see what I’m saying? So we can be as big as we want to be by us venturing out and not having a bad name for our brand. And see, that’s what it is. It’s just getting bigger and bigger. It’s going to be some good connections out here. I think the connections that we have here are going to happen organically. They’re not going to be predetermined, and we’re just going to go from there.”
LaVar thinks Trump needs a pair of ZO2’s for his sanity … and we’re sure LaVar would be more than happy to send him a pair.
“Check this out, I’m going to send Trump some ZO2s,” Ball told TMZ. “We just got them out, man, we putting them on flight today, today is the 24th, and I said we’re shipping out ZO2s. You know what, I got to ship some to Trump so he can calm down a little bit.” “Them ZO2s is coming for you Trump. Remember you put them on, you’re going to ease up a little bit.”
Today is the day LaVar Ball has likely had circled on his calendar for months: the day the first Big Baller Brand signature sneaker is scheduled to ship to those who were willing to pay the $495 price tag. While it remains to be seen if the brand can meet the expected ship date and get Lonzo Ball’s shoe in the hands and on the feet of consumers, doing so will mark a milestone for a company that was little more than a dream just 18 months ago. For Ball & Co., the past year-plus has been an unprecedented ride in the athletic industry, all leading up to today’s expected ship date of the ZO2 Prime Remix signature sneaker.
LaVar Ball told ESPN that none of the three big companies — Nike, Adidas and Under Armour — wanted to do a deal with him, at least under the terms he was asking for. “We’ve said from the beginning, we aren’t looking for an endorsement deal,” LaVar said. “We’re looking for co-branding, a true partner.” In a marketing case study that will be cited for decades to come, Lonzo Ball eschewed a traditional sneaker endorsement deal — bypassing at least a guaranteed four-year, $10 million deal, according to industry sources. As legend goes, LaVar had a rather steep asking price in negotiations with brands.
In a totally precedented move, outspoken basketball dad LaVar Ball has said something ridiculous. The latest on his Big Baller Brand, according to Slam, comes via a live Instagram question and answer session in which he discussed making his own signature shoe. “I just don’t know when I’m coming out with it yet. ‘The LaVar-iccis!’ Holler at your boy! But I will give you a tip,” Ball said. “Make sure you save your money because they’re gonna be $1,500 or more. Cause I’m gonna design them and they’re gonna be fly. My bad—they’re gonna be baller-ized.”
Ball and his kids went shoe shopping with Complex and was asked who helped design the ZO2 sneaker and if it was a team effort. He gave an answer that led to yet another classic LaVar Ball quote (the exchange starts around the 4:35 minute mark): “Everything on that shoe, Lonzo created with no team. Just the creativity of a 19-year-old that knows what he likes. After all these shoes, it’s a mixture of everything that he likes … A shoe is not that big of a deal. It’s two things, stitching and glue. It isn’t a science project.”
The founders of the Argentinian streetwear and lifestyle company, Baller Brand, called LaVar Ball a “thief” in an Instagram post on Friday, although a legal expert told USA TODAY Sports that Ball’s Big Baller Brand isn’t in any legal danger.
Diego and Leandro Franco, brothers who founded the company in 2006, claim LaVar Ball, the father of UCLA product and future NBA draftee Lonzo Ball, stole the brand name by just adding “Big.” They added that LaVar Ball “wasn’t creative enough to create his own brand name (and) just took ours. We are a company that started from ground zero 11 years ago,” the Franco brothers told USA TODAY Sports. They said they have hired legal counsel in Buenos Aires and are deliberating about how to move forward. “We have many proofs (of photos) that we (have been) doing this way before LaVar.”
LaVar Ball first applied for the Big Ball Brand trademark in September 2016 and it became a registered trademark in March. The Francos didn’t submit their filing until Wednesday.
LaVar Ball said Wednesday that if Nike, Under Armour or Adidas wants to make a deal with his Big Baller Brand now, the asking price is $3 billion. He also explained that he sees no need to market his products to women. In a wide-ranging, sometimes contentious interview with Fox Sports 1’s “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” LaVar Ball reiterated that he wants his son, NBA prospect Lonzo Ball, to play only for the Los Angeles Lakers and revealed he has sold 400 to 500 pairs of $495 ZO2 shoes since they launched two weeks ago.
Ball was asked about dealing with the big shoe companies, and he said they will regret not making a deal with him after his son is picked by the Lakers. “Now that Lonzo’s headed to Los Angeles, what they should have done is give me a billion dollars and let me be on my way,” he said.
Fox Sports reporter Kristine Leahy, whom Ball earlier referred to as a “hater” and told to “stay in your lane” after she pressed him on the number of shoes sold, argued that for Big Baller Brand to be appealing to the big shoe companies, he would have to market his products to women. Ball scoffed at the idea. “Yeah, if you have a women’s company. … We’re talking about Big Baller Brand,” he said. Later in the interview, after several tense exchanges with Leahy, Ball said: “I never disrespect women, but I tell you what, if you act like that, something’s coming to you and it’s OK.”
Mark Cuban is no stranger to controversy and entrepreneurship. So I suppose it should be no surprise when the Dallas Mavericks owner tells me of his admiration for the father of top NBA Draft prospect Lonzo Ball. “I’m kind of liking his dad,” Cuban tells me. “He is an entrepreneur. He is creating a company from scratch, which isn’t ever easy. I like it.”
Jordan Crawford: I’m rolling wit Lavar! pic.twitter.com/iGg7HPGOau
Much of social media was up in arms at the price of the main shoe, the ZO2, which retails for $495. When asked Friday about how he came up with the price point, LaVar said on ESPN Radio’s The Dan Le Batard Show that he was the sole decision-maker. “I figure that’s what the shoe is worth,” LaVar said. “When you are your own owner you can come up with any price you want.”
Nick DePaula: Lonzo Ball’s debut Big Baller Brand sneaker is available now — for $495. Price is $695 for sz 14 & 15:
Former two-time NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury is still selling his Starbury shoes in stores in China and online in America starting at $14.98 after originally joining forces with the now-defunct Steve & Barry’s sporting goods store in 2006. If LaVar Ball, father of NBA prospect Lonzo Ball, hopes to get his Big Baller Brand going without the help of the major shoe companies, Marbury could offer some advice. “I would listen to what [LaVar Ball] had to say, definitely, if he called,” Marbury told The Undefeated from China. “It’s the delivery, that’s all. Sometimes people can’t accept the delivery. But I understand, because it’s his own feelings. I don’t agree with everything that he is saying, but I understand what he is saying.”
Ball has said that he would reach out to Chinese brands. What advice would you give to him? Marbury: Come rock with us. We know the structure that is needed. We don’t have the capital, but with my brand we have the resources for what is needed from the manufacturing side in China. He doesn’t have to do something with Starbury. We could work together where we can help put them into the position to speak to all the people who have that access to do what they want in China. I’m not saying I want him to come under my umbrella and be with Starbury, but I can position them by setting them up with the people that they need to speak to in order to create their infrastructure if they want to infuse capital into themselves.
LaVar Ball’s attempts to score a lucrative licensing deal between Big Baller Brand and Nike, Adidas or Under Armour have not worked out heading into the NBA draft. So, as of right now, Lonzo — a potential top-3 pick — is without a shoe deal from any of the three brands that control 99 percent of the NBA shoe market. LaVar isn’t worried though. On Tuesday, LaVar snapped back to the criticism his brand has received with a tweet on his newly verified Twitter account.
Lavar Ball: Haters gonna hate, but BBB gonna be great. 💯💯💯
Adidas, which sponsored UCLA this past season along with the Chino Hills (Calif.) High School basketball team that features younger Ball brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo, has yet to formally discuss a shoe deal with Ball Sports Group. “It’s not dead yet,” a brand source told The Vertical. An official meeting would potentially take place in the coming weeks, with the brand not yet ruling out making a standard endorsement offer.
One of the players expected to be drafted at the very top of the board is UCLA star freshman point guard Lonzo Ball. He is represented by Harrison Gaines as part of the newly formed Ball Sports Group. Gaines is a former employee at Impact Sports, where he worked alongside primary agents on contracts for NBA players Kawhi Leonard and Will Barton. Ball is also being represented in brand negotiations by Ball Sports Group’s founder – his outspoken father, LaVar – sources told The Vertical.
Lonzo has received preliminary interest over the past year from the three current major sneaker brands outfitting NBA players: Nike, adidas and Under Armour. None of the brands have expressed a direct interest in LaVar’s “co-branding partnership” concept, which would license the family’s Big Baller Brand for Lonzo’s footwear to then be manufactured by a partner, multiple industry sources told The Vertical.
In his meetings with the three, LaVar insisted that the company license his upstart Big Baller Brand from him. He also showed the companies a shoe prototype that he hoped would be Lonzo’s first shoe. “We’ve said from the beginning, we aren’t looking for an endorsement deal,” LaVar told ESPN. “We’re looking for co-branding, a true partner. But they’re not ready for that because they’re not used to that model. But hey, the taxi industry wasn’t ready for Uber, either.”
Ball would not disclose how big the Big Baller Brand has become — the company sells hats and t-shirts ranging from $38 to $100 on its website — but he said that current sales numbers shouldn’t have been on the mind of the shoe companies. “When Facebook bought Whatsapp for $19 billion, those guys weren’t profitable,” LaVar said.
LaVar says: “So I’m the worst thing that happened in 100 years? That’s because everybody been in the darkness for 100 years, but you know how this bothers me? Not at all. Big Baller’s chicken. Big Baller’s barbecue. Call it what you want. “But George Raveling, you the worst man to be a best man. That’s what I heard. How you gonna go to a guy’s wedding and then stab him in the back? And you say this the worst thing I’m doing is talking and making chicken? “Let me tell you something, I know I’m on the right step because if nothing like this ain’t happen in 100 years, then guess what? We in a new lane, baby. That Big Baller Brand about to be your competition.”
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Clutch Points: Isaiah Thomas is expected to work out with the Golden State Warriors on Monday, sources tell @markhaynesnba. pic.twitter.com/aXdiqpdJcl
Lakers legend Pau Gasol, Marc’s older brother, recently sat down with Spanish newspaper Marca as he discussed the future of his sibling. Pau’s response was cryptic, but it is clear that he is hoping that Marc returns to Spain: “Marc has earned the freedom and flexibility to make his own decision and he will do so when he decides,” Pau said (h/t Sam Yip of Fan Nation). “I know he has a lot of enthusiasm for Basquet Girona, a club in which I am also involved as vice president. He is in a different situation, because he is five years younger than me. We will see what he decides to do this season and later, I am also waiting.”
“I’ve been on him about things I need from him,” Billups said. “I said, ‘Nurk, I know you are going to be a free agent, and I understand you have to have a great year. You need me for you to have a great year, and I need you for us to have a good year. We need each other, right?’ “I’m going to give him every opportunity to have a great year. Because if he has a great year, that means we are a pretty damn good team. Because he is a good player. But that means he has to be focused and be in shape. Because you are only going to play as many minutes as you are physically able. If you are out there tired, uh-uh, come on, gotta get you out. There are good players behind you.”
It is unclear exactly what Nurkic and his role will look like under Billups, but to hear Nurkic talk, Billups has given him a vision of being more involved on both ends. Billups has been careful not to publicly define roles, but in general, he has preached that the offense will include more ball movement. “I just want to feel wanted, and I think I just need more support, and what I mean by that is different playing style, more inside-out game, more chance,” Nurkic said. “More chance to be successful and the position where they put you in. It’s all about the coach and where they put you, and I think Chauncey has figured out that certain people are going to have one to three points less, but the team is going to be way more successful with ball movement and playing together and be more fun. Even at the defensive end.”
Virtus Bologna’s win over LBA newcomer Tortona in SuperCup Quarterfinal game yesterday night was overshadowed by a serious injury occurred to Nigerian center Ekpe Udoh, who appears to have injured his patellar tendon in a no-contact situation. Former Fenerbahce center was taken out of the court in a stretcher and after the game coach Sergio Scariolo confirmed the seriousness of the injury, adding that the team will look for a replacement in the market: “He’s our cornerstone, both on attack and on defense. It’s dramatic, I hope that it serves to understand that you need to respect the players. Here there are stickers on the court everywhere, in the NBA it’s not the case. We will look for a replacement”.
“We are in shock and worried,” Scariolo said after the game on Udoh’s injury. The Italian coach spoke against the use of slippery stickers on basketball floors which have often caused players to hurt themselves.