For the first time since his NBA preseason debut, Lonzo Ball wore his own signature shoe—the Big Baller Brand ZO2 Prime Remix—to a Los Angeles Lakers game, according to ESPN’s Jovan Buha. This time around, though, he wore them for little more than warming up before the Lakers’ exhibition finale against the Clippers and warming the bench during Friday night’s game at Staples Center.
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Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball said he is still deliberating on whether he will wear other shoe brands in addition to his Big Baller Brand this season like he did when he created a stir at the Las Vegas Summer League. “Who knows,” Ball said when asked if he will wear other brands such as Nike and Adidas during his rookie season. “Probably my shoes, though, thinking about it right now. “I’ll definitely be in my shoes the first game and then just go from there.”
Ball, technically not under a shoe endorsement deal, reportedly due to his father LaVar’s “outlandish” financial demands has been seen wearing Nike Kobe AD sneakers as well as James Harden’s signature Adidas shoe during the NBA Summer League. The quiet, yet incredibly talented guard has also worn the BBB’s signature ZO2s but the creators of the video game 2K Sports have stated that the ZO2s are not featured in the game.
If Lonzo Ball had been interested in signing a traditional endorsement deal, brands were expected to initially offer at least $1.5 million per year. That would be in line with offers made to fellow rookies Markelle Fultz, De’Aaron Fox and Josh Jackson. After being drafted by the Lakers as the second overall pick, Ball’s base number realistically could have escalated to more than $2.5 million per year, according to multiple brand sources.
After each stateside brand passed on expressing interest, Big Baller Brand engaged China-based athletic brand Anta to discuss a potential partnership. Anta currently has traditional sponsorship deals with Klay Thompson and Rajon Rondo, and made signature shoes for Kevin Garnett for his final seven seasons in the league. After a “round of conversations,” according to a source, Anta declined repeated requests for a follow-up meeting after Big Baller Brand presented them with a private label manufacturing concept.
Since launching the $495 pre-order edition of the ZO2 sneaker, along with an autographed $995 “collector’s edition,” Big Baller Brand is on the hook to both manufacture and deliver the shoe to customers by the Nov. 24 promised ship date. More than 700 pairs have already been ordered. All things considered — sky-high price, six-month shipping delay, brand that has never before made a shoe — it’s a respectable number that beat out the expectations of several rival industry sources.
Joel Embiid just offered an olive branch to LaVar Ball … but peace comes with three commas. With the war raging between Embiid and Lonzo Ball’s dad, we asked the Philadelphia 76ers star if there was ANY way he’d ever rock a pair of ZO2s on the hardwood this season. There is one way — but LaVar would have to cut a BILLION DOLLAR check!
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.”
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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February 19, 2018 | 3:46 pm EST Update
DeAndre Jordan came close to being dealt to the Cavaliers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, but the deal fell through because the Clippers were unwilling to absorb Iman Shumpert’s salary. This makes the summer ahead that much more interesting for Jordan. With the salary cap flattening, only seven teams are expected to have over $10 million in cap space. There were 10 such teams last summer and 25 in 2016, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks and Brian Windhorst recently wrote. A dearth of free-agent funds will lead to a hard choice for Jordan, who has a player option worth $24.1 million for the 2018-19 season. But multiple league executives think it’s unlikely that he’d receive that type of money annually on the open market. Most of the teams that are expected to have money, like the Hawks, 76ers, and Nets, don’t need an expensive 30-year-old rim-running center, and the teams that do need one won’t have to pay him max money.
Multiple executives and agents think DeAndre Jordan’s decision might depend more on where he wants to play than the money he can make. Jordan said on February 9 that he wants to be somewhere he’s wanted, and he doesn’t know whether that can be said about the Clippers. Still, you need to be careful about the emotional roller coaster players experience ahead of free agency. Jordan might not have been happy to have been shopped in January and February, but things can change by June.
Paul George’s candidness is unique. I can’t recall a player so openly flirting with the idea of leaving his current team. But what does it all mean, anyway? The latest noise from NBA executives is more of the same. Most buy into the fact George is drawn by Los Angeles and will leave unless the Thunder reach the NBA Finals. Others have become increasingly skeptical that he’d leave Oklahoma City. One executive said via text on Sunday that he could see George signing a one-year extension with the Thunder then reviewing his options for 2019 when a larger chunk of star free agents to potentially team up with will be available. The same is true for LeBron James, who led the rejuvenated Cavaliers to four straight wins entering the break.
The expectation is that the Heat will explore moving the final two years of Tyler Johnson’s contract as early as this summer, but the backloaded nature of his deal isn’t the only reason that it will be difficult to achieve. In addition to making $19.2 million both next season and in 2019-20 (the final two years of his contract), Johnson confirmed he also has a 15 percent salary bonus if he’s traded. The Heat must pay that trade kicker, which would be worth $3.2 million if he’s traded this summer.
But the team trading for Johnson would need to add $1.6 million to his cap hit the next two seasons, putting that annual cap hit at more than $20 million for the team trading for him. He said his agent, Austin Brown, smartly inserted that trade kicker to make it more difficult for a trade to be completed, because Johnson is happy with the Heat. Any attempt to trade Johnson would be driven by two financial motivators: 1. The desire to avoid paying a luxury tax if the Heat re-signs Wayne Ellington, re-signs Dwyane Wade or uses a midlevel exception. 2. To increase the chance of Miami having meaningful salary cap room in 2018 or 2019. Even if Johnson is dealt for an expiring contract, the Heat wouldn’t have much cap room in 2018 unless more salary is purged.
Over the next 96 hours, [Victor Oladipo] would host one party at a club with Cardi B, another with Snoop Dogg and Floyd Mayweather. He’d sing with Jamie Foxx, dunk with Black Panther and toast Michael Jordan’s birthday at a $100 million mansion in Bel-Air. He’d play Jenga in a sneaker store stock room with someone who goes by The Shiggy Show, an apt moniker for the weekend, and he’d dance alone in front of 1,000 people at a practice. He’d eat sushi from Katsuya and chicken from Popeyes. He’d ride in enough Mercedes Sprinters to fill a presidential motorcade, protected by three security guards and primped by two stylists. They would present him with approximately 40 ensembles, a dozen of which he would wear. He’d wake up early to toss 12-pound medicine balls and do plyometric pushups in the J.W. Marriott fitness center, and at 9 a.m. Sunday, he’d watch online the weekly sermon delivered by Pastor John K. Jenkins at First Baptist Church of Glenarden back home in Maryland.
His parents, Chris and Joan, immigrated to the United States from Nigeria 32 years ago. They prized education, not sports, and Chris held two jobs so Victor Oladipo and his three sisters could attend private schools. “I never really saw my dad because he was always working,” Oladipo recalls. “We didn’t have a great relationship.” While Joan warmed to hoops, Chris never did, driving a wedge between father and son. He rarely met Victor’s coaches or teammates. In each of his first three NBA seasons, Oladipo went to All-Star Weekend, either for the Rising Stars Challenge or the Slam Dunk Contest or the parties. But last February, he flew to Washington D.C. instead and sat in Chris’s office for three-and-a-half hours. “It had been a long time since we had a real conversation,” Oladipo says. “But you’ve got to work at it, because he’s your dad, so his opinion means more than anybody’s. He told me he believes in me, and that gave me a huge boost.”