AAU game featuring LaMelo Ball, Zion Williamson goes on despite large crowd

ByMyron Medcalf ESPN logo
Thursday, July 27, 2017

LAS VEGAS -- In a chaotic scene Wednesday, officials and police officers blocked doors and ordered a police barricade outside the Cashman Center because of fire-code concerns an hour before LaVar Ball's Big Ballers squad, led by his son and elite 2019 recruit LaMelo Ball, was scheduled to face top recruit Zion Williamson and SC Supreme.

The Adidas Uprising Summer Championships game was played despite fear that it would be canceled.

Fans stood six and seven rows deep hours before Williamson and Ball were scheduled to play.Dozens of people were waiting to get into the building when event officials and officers banned anyone else from entering the building an hour before tipoff.

Chris Rivers, the organizer of this week's championships in Las Vegas, said that local police gave the green light for the AAU teams to play only one minute before tipoff.

"Unreal. Never seen anything like it," Kansas coach Bill Self, who was on hand for the game, told ESPN.

In addition to Self, NBA players Damian Lillard, Thon Maker, Jamal Murray, Andrew Wiggins and LaMelo's oldest brother, Lonzo Ball, were on hand to watch SC Supreme's 104-92 victory.

LeBron James had planned to watch the Ball-Williamson showdown courtside, but he did not get out of his vehicle after he arrived, instead deciding to avoid the frenzy after a conversation with people associated with the Adidas Uprising Summer Championships, a source told ESPN.com.

James arrived with several people before choosing to skip an event that already had been dealing with overcrowding and local police threatening to shut it down, per the source.

"There were security concerns," the source said.

ESPN's Chris Haynes reported this week that James has been in Las Vegas working out with new teammate Derrick Rose.

At Wednesday's event, an officer also ordered the garage door between the hospitality room for coaches and the courts to be closed.

"Put it down!" the officer yelled as coaches tried to show their credentials and gain entry but were denied.

"They oversold this," a law enforcement official told ESPN.com. "Way oversold."

The drama surrounding the game wasn't relegated to the buildup, as LaVar Ball was given a technical foul during play for arguing with referees. Last weekend, the elder Ball was T'd up in a game and then pulled his team off the court while leading by nine points.

After Wednesday's game, LaVar Ball said attendees should have anticipated a large crowd with the Big Baller Brand involved.

"They're gonna have to get a bigger venue," he said. "When the Big Baller Brand come to town, better get something big."

LaVar Ball also said he wasn't surprised LeBron wanted to watch Wednesday's game.

"Probably did," Ball said. "He said, 'I gotta see them Ball boys.'"

But he also said the LeBron news didn't impress him.

"He's not the biggest player to me," LaVar Ball said. "The biggest players to me are my boys. I don't care about no LeBron. LeBron do his thing, I just worry about my boys. I don't worry about all that other stuff."

Information from ESPN's Jeff Borzello was used in this report.

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