LaVar Ball takes first big step toward his personal semi-pro league
LaVar Ball has filed trademark paperwork for his Junior Basketball Association, officially claiming ownership over the name.
This is the first step in a long process that may or may not result in basketball games being played, but it shows that Ball is serious enough to put up his money with the government.
According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the filing fees are between $225 and $400 and fall into two categories: “Use in Commerce” and “Intent to Use.”
Now, a Use in Commerce trademark, that’s serious stuff. Imagine you’ve opened a hamburger stand and named it after one of your daughters, but it’s a small-time operation in a nondescript suburb of Columbus, Ohio. When Dave Thomas went to the USPTO to register “Wendy’s” as a trademark before taking it national, this is exactly the portion of trademark law he invoked. Use in Commerce is how brands protect themselves from theft by unscrupulous operators.
Intent to Use, on the other hand, is more “any yokel with four hundred bucks and a big idea can go to Uncle Sam and squat on the name for awhile.” Or, more charitably, it’s like if you want to build a house and you buy a plot of bare land. There’s nothing there yet, but there will be.
And that strikes at the heart of what Ball is doing, and why, while this is an important first step in the process of starting any business that intends to sell something with unique branding to the public, it is more a sign of Ball’s bombast than a sign that we’ll get actual basketball with actual players in actual arenas anytime soon.
Ball has said he intends to create a league with 10 teams of eight players apiece, paying the players between $3,000 and $10,000 a month.
As Ball told ESPN’s Darren Rovell, “Getting these players is going to be easy. This is giving guys a chance to get a jump start on their career, to be seen by pro scouts; and we’re going to pay them, because someone has to pay these kids.”
It’s not known just how many months a season of JBA will be, but if it’s basically just a glorified summer league, that might not compare favorably with what the NBA G-League is offering, and it is likely to fall well short of what the bigger European clubs in nations like Spain or Italy could offer the high school player who, due to ineligibility or simply a disinterest in college basketball, wishes to play overseas.
Ball also has exactly zero arena deals; he has not indicated which cities he wants to host teams, but it doesn’t matter whether we’re talking Staples Center or the Podunk Civic Auditorium, there has been not a whisper of a deal going down, much less infrastructure and plans to ensure that the arenas will be available for a proper slate of games.
Plus, for a league that’s supposed to start this summer, you’d think that even one player would have shown interest in joining up, but it’s not like Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina are worried about losing any recruits. So far the college basketball wire has been as quiet as a church mouse regarding potential player defections.
But hey, Ball “intends to use” the name, so the good folks at the trademark office were happy to take his money.
It will also take months for the application to be approved (if it’s approved), so there’s that problem as well.
Just having a brand may be worth something if you’re one of those famous-for-being-famous celebrities, the Kardashians of the world who have done nothing but present themselves as celebrities and have Americans accept the ruse.
But basketball is serious business.
Any player with designs on the NBA knows full well that the best way to get noticed is to play against credible competition, and that means a year of college ball for American players. March Madness is the showcase where players’ draft stock rises, where star performances launch Hall of Fame careers and where getting clowned in the Sweet 16 can be a terrible harbinger of status as an NBA draft bust.
I love what laVar is doing ??
— SUCRE (@AbdiBuddy305) January 18, 2018
Ball has damaged the NBA prospects of his younger two sons by parking them in Lithuania, where they’ve fallen flat on their faces against first-division competition.
Now he wants to offer that same career-ruining experience to impressionable high school kids, who are being reminded aggressively by college recruiters that the only way they’re getting drafted in any slot where they can make actual money is to play college ball.
But hey, at least LaVar is serious enough about this fool’s errand to register a trademark for it.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.