When the NBA Draft begins on June 22, you can count on hearing UCLA star Lonzo Ball’s name being called within the first few picks.
What you can also count on, is that he’ll be one of the only Top 5 NBA Draft selections in quite a while to not have a sponsorship deal with a major apparel company the likes of Nike, Adidas or Under Armour, according to a report from ESPN’s Darren Rovell.
Per the report, Ball’s father, LaVar, insisted in meetings with the big three of the apparel world that they enter into a licensing agreement with the elder Ball’s fledgling apparel brand, Big Baller Brand if they wanted to sign Lonzo.
LaVar also reportedly presented each of the companies with a potential shoe design they hoped Lonzo would wear in the NBA.
All three, according to the report, balked at the demand and will not sign Ball under those circumstances.
“We’ve said from the beginning, we aren’t looking for an endorsement deal,” LaVar told ESPN, per Revell’s report. “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.”
LaVar Ball stated that he’ll be reaching out to lesser-known companies, including China-based companies to partner with.
Even though the father-son duo are entering uncharted territory, they don’t appear concerned about this setback and seem determined to pursue this course of action.
“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.”
At the end of the day, if Lonzo can prove his worth at the NBA level, these companies might reconsider their stance. However, LaVar is costing his son — and ostensibly himself — an awful lot of money in the interim, which won’t ever be recouped if Lonzo is unsuccessful as an NBA player.
In the meantime, this will only fuel critics who think LaVar is controlling, selfish and is making life harder for his son who will have to back up his father’s words and actions with his play.
One Nike executive already called LaVar Ball “the worst thing to happen to basketball in the last hundred years,” and it doesn’t appear that he’ll be able to shed that label any time soon.