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LaVar Ball weighs suspending JBA’s Chicago coach who shoved Ballers player

LaVar Ball at Wintrust Arena. Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Times

LaVar Ball and the Junior Basketball Association return to Wintrust Arena on Saturday night in the wake of a league controversy.

During the Chicago Ballers’ 115-97 loss to Seattle last Thursday, Chicago coach Edward Denard was shown physically and verbally abusing one of his players.

With 1:24 to play, Denard was captured by the game broadcast shoving forward Montrell Dixson twice with his fists and later forcing his forehead against the side of Dixson’s face.

“We’re going to handle that in-house,” Ball said.

The game Thursday against Dallas will mark Chicago’s first since the incident, and the big question is whether Denard will be on the bench. Ball said he hasn’t decided if Denard will be suspended.

“One of my guys talked to him already and expressed his feelings on the situation,” Ball said. “It was very positive. He knows he did something bad and … he just wants to make things right.”

Chicago drew fewer than 200 fans to the home opener last month, but Ball isn’t concerned with attendance. Online streaming is how Ball plans on growing the league, with all but one of the JBA games reaching more than 100,000 viewers on Facebook.

The eight-team league popped up almost overnight. Ball announced the league in December and the first games were being played by June. His realizes it will take time for fans to fill seats.

The focus now is giving players an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have. Without college, playing basketball at the professional level isn’t possible for many young players with strong talent, so Ball is trying to bridge that gap.

“It’s a platform to get to the next level without going the educational route,” Ball said. “It allows people to see the talented players that we have. It shouldn’t stop their dreams just because they don’t want to go to school.”