People are mixing up LaVar Ball and LeVar Burton.

LaVar Ball/Instagram

Google thinks LaVar Ball founded the NBA

LaVar Ball is NOT the founder of the NBA.


David Britton

Internet Culture

Posted on Jan 2, 2018   Updated on May 22, 2021, 6:18 am CDT

Outspoken basketball dad LaVar Ball was born 20 years after the NBA was founded—which is to say Ball couldn’t have had much to do with the sports organization’s founding.

Yet, a Google search for “NBA Founder” currently brings up a picture of Ball smiling as if he planned the mixup himself.

lavar ball nba founder
Screengrab via Google

Ball is no stranger to outrageous claims. He once said that his son Lonzo was a better player than Stephen Curry and that he himself could have beat Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one. Ball also made headlines when he refused to thank President Donald Trump for helping get his son LiAngelo released from a Chinese prison where he was being held for shoplifting.

But even Ball wouldn’t go so far as to claim to be the founder of the NBA, so what exactly went wrong?

Google, like most search engines, uses programs called “spiders” to scan web pages and create indexes of keywords. The more often a word appears, the higher the page will rank when that word is searched for. Longevity also plays a factor, and pages that have existed longer will score higher. Probably the most important factor is the number of other pages that link back to the page in question. Each link is like a vote, raising the page’s score and moving it up the ranks.

Ball is certainly involved, albeit tangentially, with the NBA. He is the founder of both his own sportswear company and the JBA, or Junior Basketball Association. That, and his current popularity and infamy, would explain why he might come up in a search for “NBA Founder.” But the number one spot? Something doesn’t add up.

Google has its own secret algorithm for creating search results, so it’s hard to say what’s going on. The Daily Dot reached out to the company for clarification and received a humorous, although not particularly helpful, response.

“Clearly we dropped the ball,” a spokesperson said. “We’re taking a timeout to huddle around the issue and expect to rebound soon.”

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*First Published: Jan 2, 2018, 2:34 pm CST