LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball have ended their stint in Lithuania because both of the brothers are hurt and there are only two games left in the season, sources close to the Ball family told ESPN’s Chris Haynes.
The early exit had the approval of the team, BC Vytautas, the sources told Haynes.
But Vytautas head coach Virginijus Seskus said he was shocked at the siblings’ departure.
“It’s just another proof they came here to make a show, not for basketball. It’s sad they didn’t understand what we gave them. We understand how they helped us, but they don’t,” Seskus told Lithuanian outlet 15min.lt.
The defense became the first in NFL history to fail to record an interception in the first 10 games of the season and generated only 14 takeaways all season compared to 30 in 2016.
The Raiders have brought in more than 20 free agents this offseason as Gruden has tried to put his imprint on the team. One of the most significant moves was the signing of receiver Jordy Nelson to replace Michael Crabtree, who was released to make room.
But there are also some key pieces missing, most notably 2016 AP Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack, who is not participating in the offseason program while seeking a long-term contract before he can become a free agent next offseason.
Starting left tackle Donald Penn is still recovering from foot surgery and last year’s top two draft picks, cornerback Gareon Conley (shin) and safety Obi Melifonwu (hip), aren’t taking part in team drills.
“It was pretty amazing. People from everywhere: China, Philippines, Australia, Sweden, Germany, England, you name it,” said Brian Killingsworth, the team’s chief marketing officer.
“We thought it was really special. And that’s where this VGK Worldwide thing took off,” Killingsworth added, referring to a social media hashtag created for the campaign.
For most of their inaugural season, the Golden Knights had focused on “Vegas Born” as a mantra, celebrating the fact that they were the first major professional sports team in Las Vegas. But the playoffs have broadened their horizons: They’ve thought locally, and now they’re acting globally.
According to Killingsworth, the Knights contacted many of the international fans who responded to that initial tweet through direct message. Each fan was sent a T-shirt design that the team had been selling for the past month: a “name tag” that reads “I’m From [Blank Space] But I Cheer For Vegas Golden Knights.”
Fans were encouraged to write in their geographic information in that white space with a marker, and put those images on social media.
“We’ve racked up quite a shipping bill, but it’s a direct response to our fans,” said Killingsworth.