Some may laugh at Lonzo Ball and his father LaVar for the Big Baller Brand. But if he plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, success of the family’s self-made apparel company could come quickly.
Despite the high price tag and lack of early sales, the results of Tuesday’s draft lottery were the best thing possible for the Ball family. The hometown phenom playing for one of the most marketable teams in all of sports is a pretty compelling storyline.
The jury is still out on what’s next, though Big Baller Brand was originally speculated to seek opportunities to work with investors, including potentially Nike or Adidas.
LaVar Ball spoke with Colin Cowherd about the future of Big Baller Brand (via FOX Sports):
If they want to come talk to me now, it just went up to $3 billion … I do believe that. That’s the only way they are going to come at me. I’m already in the building. I don’t need them for nothing.
With the Lakers likely to select Ball, LaVar also said Lonzo will only work out for the Lakers because he knows this is where he wants to play. Similarly, Lonzo only took a visit to UCLA during collegiate recruiting.
It’s not a surprise. Even though the Lakers have not made the postseason since 2013, Forbes values the franchise at $3 billion. Only the Knicks are worth more. Big Baller Brand is not worth the same as the entire Lakers franchise, but it’s certainly a huge help for the business model.
This season, without Kobe Bryant, the Lakers were 25-56, the second-worst record in the Western Conference. Their local rival, the Clippers, were 51-31 and made the playoffs.
But the Lakers were still the fourth-most popular team for merchandise sales despite not having a “star” player. The Clippers did not crack the top 10 for the second season in a row.
During the 2015 season, the Lakers were the third most-watched team on NBA League Pass. This year, they still had 1.4 million people watch their games on national television.
The extra exposure players get in the L.A. market while on the Lakers is undeniable. Even Nick Young received his own player’s edition shoe deal with adidas during a season in which he averaged 7.3 ppg for the Lakers.
Ball has star potential as a professional player. But in Los Angeles, Big Baller Brand suddenly has more upside as a marketable business.
Low sales or not, the fact is Ball hasn’t yet been drafted or stepped foot on an NBA court. His performance, as Lonzo said, will have a role too (via ESPN):
Who’s going to want to buy a loser’s shoe? I know I wouldn’t. What you do on the court is going to help you off the court.
Once he plays for the Lakers and Big Baller Brand is selling purple and gold merchandise, we can expect an immediate and significant jump in sales of the luxury sportswear. And unlike if he had signed for a major company, the new family-owned business will take in all of the profits.