Sole Collector: Lonzo Ball is wearing the Air Jordan 31 tonight. When asked if he’s trying to start a bidding war, his answer was, “Something like that.”
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LaVar commented to ESPN this weekend about Lonzo’s footwear and he explained why he went from Nike to Adidas to Under Armour in consecutive games. “It’s making a statement to the brands of what they could have had with an open mind. The players are the brand ambassadors. The brand is nothing without the players.”
Asked whether there’s still a chance that a big shoe brand can sign his son Lonzo Ball, LaVar responded: “If the price is right. Quite frankly we are officially in the shoe game, and are a billion dollar brand either way.”
In negotiations with the big brands — Nike, adidas and Under Armour — LaVar made it known that he was looking for $1 billion and wanted those brands to sublicense his Big Baller Brand. The shoe brands quickly passed. Days later, the first Big Baller Brand shoes launched on the company website. Industry sources indicate that a deal for Ball from the traditional companies originally fell in the $1.5 million a year range. Playing on the Lakers, plus the power of his holdout, could boost that up over $2 million a year.
LaVar Ball says his son’s wearing of Nike shoes Wednesday night is about the Los Angeles Lakers rookie’s freedom to choose and has nothing to do with any negotiations with the world’s largest shoe and apparel company. “Lonzo is not forced to wear any brand and can play in any shoe he wants as long as it’s OK with the NBA,” LaVar Ball told ESPN by text early Thursday morning. “This is what being independent is all about.”
The Kobe Bryant shoes, though, might have helped put Ball into an aggressive offensive mindset. “Um, you know, Mamba mentality,” Ball said when asked why he wore Nike. “Thought I’d switch it up.” Ball added: “Like I said, you can wear whatever you want when you play with Big Baller Brand … and it is just nice to get out there and do that.”
During his workout for the Los Angeles Lakers, projected No. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball surprisingly did not wear his signature ZO2 shoes. On the page to preorder the expensive sneakers, shipping is promised by November 24, 2017. While the date is still five and a half months away, Ball wore the shoes to announce the product for SLAM Magazine.
Sports apparel giants Nike, Adidas and Under Armour were reportedly prepared to offer UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, a top prospect in the 2017 NBA draft, a $10 million shoe contract, but his father, LaVar Ball, wanted a “more lucrative” deal. ESPN’s Darren Rovell reported the information during an appearance this week on the Dan Patrick Show, per Brad Crawford of 247Sports. “We said Tiger (Woods) might be the next Jordan taking over, but there is no next Jordan in basketball or probably no next Jordan anywhere,” Rovell said. “I know that’s going to disappoint LaVar Ball, but I think you have to say that.”
Rovell went on to say LaVar Ball is betting on his Big Baller Brand rather than taking a deal that could have doubled his son’s rookie salary. The ESPN business reporter told Patrick he’s surprised the patriarch didn’t take a different route after the Los Angeles Lakers landed the second overall pick. “It’s strange to me that LaVar didn’t at least fold some of his cards and go back to the shoe companies in earnest,” he said. “After the Lakers thing goes down and the perfect scenario is going to unfold, the new deal, Nike (to) five years and $20 million. But what does LaVar Ball do? Instead of saying he now wants $1 billion, he now wants $3 billion.”
LaVar Ball said Wednesday that if Nike, Under Armour or Adidas wants to make a deal with his Big Baller Brand now, the asking price is $3 billion. He also explained that he sees no need to market his products to women. In a wide-ranging, sometimes contentious interview with Fox Sports 1’s “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” LaVar Ball reiterated that he wants his son, NBA prospect Lonzo Ball, to play only for the Los Angeles Lakers and revealed he has sold 400 to 500 pairs of $495 ZO2 shoes since they launched two weeks ago.
Ball was asked about dealing with the big shoe companies, and he said they will regret not making a deal with him after his son is picked by the Lakers. “Now that Lonzo’s headed to Los Angeles, what they should have done is give me a billion dollars and let me be on my way,” he said.
Fox Sports reporter Kristine Leahy, whom Ball earlier referred to as a “hater” and told to “stay in your lane” after she pressed him on the number of shoes sold, argued that for Big Baller Brand to be appealing to the big shoe companies, he would have to market his products to women. Ball scoffed at the idea. “Yeah, if you have a women’s company. … We’re talking about Big Baller Brand,” he said. Later in the interview, after several tense exchanges with Leahy, Ball said: “I never disrespect women, but I tell you what, if you act like that, something’s coming to you and it’s OK.”
Those stars waited until they were stars to cut out the middleman. But already LaVar’s called out: the shoe companies, the NCAA, AAU basketball teams run by shoe companies, retail stores taking a cut of shoe and merchandise sales — basically all the gatekeepers of the world he’s trying (to conquer. Is he trying to change the system or work it? That might not matter, as long as at least one of his sons lives up to the hype he’s created for them. “People don’t understand the movement,” he says. “This is a power play to show everybody, ‘Yo, we don’t need you to make this s — .'”
LaVar Ball’s plan to make Nike and Adidas regret passing on a co-branding opportunity with his son Lonzo and Big Baller Brand appears to be heading in the wrong direction. At yesterday’s Ballislife All-American Game at Long Beach City College, photographer Cassy Athena snapped this shot of the Ball family—LaVar, Lonzo and LaMelo—sitting courtside. Immediately, people noticed that despite unveiling Lonzo’s ZO2 Big Baller Brand signature sneaker earlier week, the brothers were laced up in Jordan Retros, while LaVar wore the Adidas Energy Boost 3.
Much of social media was up in arms at the price of the main shoe, the ZO2, which retails for $495. When asked Friday about how he came up with the price point, LaVar said on ESPN Radio’s The Dan Le Batard Show that he was the sole decision-maker. “I figure that’s what the shoe is worth,” LaVar said. “When you are your own owner you can come up with any price you want.”
Darren Rovell: Rumor Big Baller Brand sold 5,000 pairs of shoes is bogus. Order # from those who buy this AM is around #4600. That’s all site orders.
This Warriors coach isn’t a big baller. On the same day LaVar Ball, UCLA product Lonzo Ball’s father, and Big Baller Brand unveiled their $495 ZO2 sneakers, Mike Brown was asked if he would buy his children “a pair of shoes for $500 from an unproven NBA player after college?” “Uh, no,” the Warriors interim head coach responded before Golden State’s 115-104 win over Utah, while bursting out in laughter.
On Thursday evening, Ball posted to Twitter and took a shot at everyone complaining about that $495 price tag. He did so in predictable LaVar Ball fashion.
John Gonzalez: Reporter: Would you buy your kid a pair of $500 sneakers? Mike Brown: [Belly laugh] No.
Nick DePaula: The first Big Baller Brand sneaker, unveiled by Lonzo Ball.
Nick DePaula: Lonzo Ball’s debut Big Baller Brand sneaker is available now — for $495. Price is $695 for sz 14 & 15:
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July 20, 2017 | 2:24 pm EDT Update
Brad Turner: Lakers indeed are meeting with Derrick Rose today in LA, per source. Lakers looking for backup point guard to play behind Lonzo Ball.