Lonzo Ball is a 19-year-old superstar basketball player from Southern California, gearing up to potentially be the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft. Ball averaged 14.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game at UCLA this past season as a first-year and declared for the NBA draft within minutes following his team’s Sweet 16 loss to Kentucky.
Thanks to his father’s media antics, however, three major basketball sneaker companies (Nike, Under Armour and Adidas) already have made it clear that they will not be offering Lonzo any type of endorsement deal.
Those who follow basketball closely know that Lonzo’s talent can’t be denied and that his biggest fan and promoter is his father, LaVar Ball. LaVar has great intentions and only wants the best for Lonzo and his two younger sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, who will also be attending UCLA to play basketball in the near future.
However, LaVar has taken his familial promotion too far and may have ultimately ended up costing his children a lot of money (millions) in the long run, if it hasn’t already.
LaVar has been talking a big game about his three sons, even throwing around talks of a 10-year sneaker contract worth up to $1 billion for his three children together.
But LaVar is getting way too far ahead of himself by saying that he wants his children to have their own brand, called the “Big Baller Brand,” as well as a business partner to help with distribution, rather than an endorsement deal. This would be similar to Michael Jordan’s “Jordan” Brand, which falls under Nike, but has its own separate logo. The major shoe companies find this comical and as unfair as it is, they’d rather simply not offer Lonzo Ball a deal at all than deal with his father.
“We’ve said from the beginning, we aren’t looking for an endorsement deal,” LaVar said, according to ESPN. “We’re looking for co-branding, a true partner. But they’re not ready for that because they’re not used to that model. But hey, the taxi industry wasn’t ready for Uber, either.”
Initially, Phil Knight, Nike’s CEO, had expressed interest in Nike possibly signing Lonzo to a sneaker contract, but was thrown off by commentary from Lonzo’s father.
LaVar needs to scale it back, because his most talented son is the one entering the NBA next year, while the jury is still out on his other two children and how good they are going to be in college.
Instead of letting the sneaker companies come to his son Lonzo, he is going at them with obscene requests and hopes that include his youngest sons, who have yet to even touch the college basketball court.
Nike executive George Raveling came out and put LaVar on full blast. “LaVar Ball is the worst thing to happen to basketball in the last hundred years,” Raveling said.
This proves that Nike and the other major sneaker companies are really turned off by LaVar. The tragic thing is that it ended up costing his son, who has kept quiet and played a great game of basketball at the highest level possible, parts of his future.
It’s unfortunate that the elder Ball has to act out like this and take the spotlight away from how good of a player his son is. Sponsors know that Lonzo is a great player, but his father’s actions and sneaker requests are far too much of a reach.
The good side of signing Lonzo doesn’t outweigh the bad when it comes to having his father so intimately involved in the process. This is a really unfortunate situation for such a young superstar, who has to deal with the nuisance of his father holding him back already before he has even had the chance to play in the NBA.