LaVar Ball’s Junior Basketball Association has parted ways with Eddie Denard, the Chicago Ballers coach who became the center of controversy for bullying a 20-year-old player during a game last week, announcers Brandon Williams and Allen Bell revealed before Thursday’s Facebook broadcast.
Denard was replaced on the Chicago bench by Nicolas Colon for Thursday’s game against the Dallas Ballers (all eight teams in the league have the same nickname) in Garland, Texas. USA Today first reported the move. Williams announced on the broadcast that Chicago was “going through some transition with a new coach,” before citing Denard as someone “who we all have high regard for.”
The Facebook Live broadcast of Chicago’s game against Seattle last week caught Denard twice putting his fists to Montrell Dixson’s chest and all but challenging the former junior college forward to a fight.
“Hey, that’s my bad, I guess,” Dixson said during a timeout in a mostly empty arena in Ontario, Calif.
“Get the f—ing ball,” Denard countered. “Stop being a b—-.”
When Dixson responded, Denard tried to intimidate the player, getting in Dixson’s face and asking him, “What you going to do? What you going to do, huh? What the f— are you going to do?”
Benched for the final 1:24 of the game, Dixson resisted any further interaction with his coach.
“I’ll cut the record straight as of now,” Dixson said in a Facebook post responding to the incident the following day. “I didn’t react like everybody wanted to because I know how to keep my composure when needed to. If I would’ve acted crazy I’d be the kid known for fighting his coach on national TV.”
Ball, the league’s co-founder and outspoken father of Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball, remained silent on the issue until Tuesday, when he told the Fox affiliate in Washington, D.C., that Denard’s actions were “inappropriate.” “I’m not condoning this right here,” added LaVar Ball, who also defended Denard as a “very intense young coach” whose actions were “just part of the game” and overblown.
“It’s just the intensity of the game,” said Ball. “It’s not like the guy has a bad character of beating up kids or something like that. … He’s not swinging or anything like that. He’s just very intense, and it happened at a bad moment. But it’s nothing like sending guys to the military at 18. You don’t think they’re cussing at that guy at 18 and sending him over there to war? They’re doing the same damn thing, but this is the JBA, and they say, ‘Well, let’s see if we can knock LaVar down with this.'”
Asked how he would respond if Denard had put his hands on or head-butted his sons LaMelo or LiAngelo (both of whom are playing in the league), the way he did Dixson, Ball added, “I’d knock him out. How’s that? Violence shall be met with violence from me. Leave me alone. Leave my boys alone.”
As for how the JBA would handle Denard, Ball was vague, suggesting it would be taken care of “in house” and that spectators would have to tune into Thursday’s broadcast to find out if he was fired.
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