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The most interesting comment in the NBA Draft article posted recently on Fanteractive was the comment by UCLA’s other NBA draft prospect TJ Leaf. When asked whether he would buy a pair of Lonzo Ball’s $495 signature shoes, he replied that he would not – although he said he might wear a pair occasionally if Ball gave him a pair.

What’s interesting about the comment is that Leaf was one of the three “white guys” that Ball’s father LaVarr criticized for being “too slow” and responsible for UCLA’s failure to make it to the Eight Eight in their loss to Kentucky. So, team interviews at the draft are always interesting and you wonder what the team that asked it was looking to uncover?

Were they feeling Leaf out on Ball? Did they want to see if there was any animosity there? Was it a question of whether Leaf was enamored by the NBA lifestyle and excesses that it may bring?

Who knows! The question is actually an interesting one and I have to say I liked Leaf’s response. First, anyone who would say “Yeah, I can’t wait to get my first NBA paycheck so I can afford to go buy them” should have red flags all around them. If you don’t see the problem in spending $495 for a pair of sneakers, then you have other issues. If $500 is Ok for a pair of casual shoes, what are you going to do for a car, for a house, for a surround-sound home movie theater with stadium seating?

We all know the NBA is a path to riches for many of the players lucky enough to get there. However, let’s still think about basketball. The money will be there as long as you’re there. But if you are a player hoping to hang on for a few years, best to worry about staying on the court as long as you can. Leaf has some ability, regardless of what LaVarr Ball thinks. I like the fact that he is unwilling to slam Ball, even though he has every right to despite Ball’s father’s comments. But, he kept it to basketball and kept the bright lights and big paychecks out of it. Yes, he will be able to afford a pair of Lonzo Ball’s ridiculously priced shoes, but he is a smarter man to just say “no” and not fall for the trap.

It would have been interesting if he said “yes” though. Can you imagine LaVarr Ball saying, “he can’t have a pair! They ain’t for slow white guys!” Why would I not be surprised!

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