Lonzo Ball is one of the biggest prospects in the upcoming 2017 NBA draft, but he has already been taking a hit when it comes to endorsements.
The potential no. 1 draft pick has been passed over by the three largest sports apparel brands and he has his dad to thank for that. Lonzo’s father, LaVar Ball, has become known for being very vocal and opinionated despite how outrageous he may sound at times.
LaVar Ball has been pushing the ‘Big Baller Brand’ for months now and is hoping to turn it the lifestyle apparel company into a billion dollar empire. LaVar has made it very clear that his family isn’t “looking for an endorsement deal,” but rather a partner to help distribute their brand.
In his meetings with the three, LaVar insisted that the company license his upstart Big Baller Brand from him. He also showed the companies a shoe prototype that he hoped would be Lonzo’s first shoe.
“We’ve said from the beginning, we aren’t looking for an endorsement deal,” LaVar told 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. … Just imagine how rich Tiger (Woods), Kobe (Bryant), Serena (Williams), (Michael) Jordan and LeBron (James) would have been if they dared to do their own thing,” LaVar said. “No one owned their own brand before they turned pro. We do and I have three sons so it’s that much more valuable.”
LaVar’s first mistake is comparing his sons to greats such as Michael Jordan and Serena Williams. The players he named have been considered the greatest of their generation or of all time in their respective sports. It is quite possible all three of his sons could be a bust in the league.
Secondly, his merchandise is overpriced. Big Baller Brand is selling $50 t-shirts, $40 hats and $60 hoodies. According to reviews on Facebook, the company isn’t even fulfilling orders. There are several complaints of customers not receiving products or responses to the emails.
Without LaVar, Lonzo would be one of the most sought after young athletes in the draft. Nike CEO Phil Knight previously said the company had interest in signing Lonzo, but was wary of the asking price after LaVar threw around a $1 billion figure for a 10-year contract that also would cover his sons LiAngelo and LaMelo. Then, in late April, Nike executive George Raveling ripped LaVar, saying the overbearing dad is “the worst thing to happen to basketball in the last hundred years.”
LaVar is now pursuing opportunities with Chinese brands like Peak (Dwight Howard), Li-Ning and Anta (Klay Thompson).