LaMelo Ball Slaps Opponent, Sparks Brawl In Lithuania

LaMelo Ball dragged the Ball family name back into the international sports news cycle on Monday, October 1, and once again it was for all the wrong reasons, given it took a fist fight on the basketball court to garner top headlines. To LaMelo’s credit though, a replay of the moments leading up to the ensuing brawl does appear to show that the semi-pro 17-year-old was only sticking up for himself when he delivered the slap that started it all.

With his Junior Basketball Association team already up by 13, LaMelo was looking to continue piling the points onto their Lithuanian opponents, BC Dz?kija, when he drove from baseline to baseline for a layup with just under nine minutes remaining in the game’s third quarter. However, as has been the case whenever he’s relied on poor shot selection in the past, a missed attempt wound up resulting in a turnover that gave Dz?kija the ball back with a chance to cut down on their 69-54 deficit.

What happened next would prove costly to the American squad and ultimately set the table for BC Dz?kija to wage a comeback on account of LaMelo getting ejected, according to CBS Sports.

Just as he was coming down from the shot, LaMelo pushed off in an attempt to create some distance between himself and defender, Mindaugas Susinskas. It is unclear whether Susinskas took the shove as a sign of disrespect, happened to be frustrated by the score, or was simply feeling provocative at the time – but for whatever reason, he made sure to tap LaMelo on the head while trailing him back in bounds to resume action. The contact seemed light and playful, but LaMelo’s reaction to being touched showed he wasn’t about the games.

LaMelo immediately lunged forward with an open palm across Susinskas’ cheek, then squared up for whatever conflict might follow. A shove and a few more swings would follow, but players from both teams intervened and wound up taking the fight off of their hands within seconds of the blow. Video of the dust-up shows that a couple of more players got rough, leading to several guys falling to the ground, but tensions would subside before long.

Unfortunately, LaMelo’s role in initiating the fracas ensured that he’d wind up watching the rest of the contest from the bench. It also meant that he was rendered powerless to have any bearing on the USA Team sliding behind for a 124-116 loss to the very team that he and his brother LiAngelo combined for 80 points to defeat back in January.

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