Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball started the Big Baller Brand, which was an unprecedented move for a basketball player.
Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, LeBron James and John Wall all had signature shoes as rookies. Jordan is the only player to have an entire “brand” based on his likeness, though that didn’t come until he had played in the NBA for quite some time.
Nick DePaula wrote about what kind of a deal Ball would have likely received if he had gone a more traditional route. He noted brands have offered a five-year contract to players like Ben Simmons, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Davis (via ESPN):
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 … With incentive bonuses for on-court achievements such as being selected to the Rising Stars Challenge, making first-team All-Rookie or even winning Rookie of the Year, the value of the deal could have been as high as $3 million annually.
With these numbers in mind, if Ball played well for the Lakers, he could have earned as much as $15 million from an existing company as opposed to starting his own brand.
While he wore shoes from different companies during the NBA’s summer league games, he is reportedly not negotiating with shoe companies for a “co-branded partnership” deal.
While adidas showed interest in a standard deal, they decided against moving forward when the ZO2 shoes were announced. Anta, based in China, also declined a manufacturing deal, according to the report.