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LaVar Ball, smart businessman or loudmouth?

LaVar Ball, smart businessman or loudmouth?
May 18
05:30 2017

Timothy Ramsey

Sports Columnist

Only time will tell whether LaVar Ball is a genius or just another overly outspoken parent.  Ball is the father of Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo.  All three are highly sought after basketball players from California.

Lonzo is a soon to be a Top 3 draft pick in this year’s NBA draft – which will take place in June following the NBA Finals –after finishing his All-American freshman year at UCLA.  LiAngelo and LaMelo are high school players for Chino Hills High School and have both committed to UCLA as well.

Ball has made some of the most outrageous claims in recent years concerning the play and expectations of his three boys.  Earlier this year he made a comment stating his son, Lonzo, would be a better professional player than Stephen Curry, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, all of whom are former MVPs or are perennial All-Stars.

He has even made the claim “back in my heyday I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one.” That statement is even more absurd when you look at his college averages of 2.2 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists while playing at Washington State. No one with those numbers can make the claim they would be able to beat the consensus “Greatest of All Time.”

Many people dismiss Ball’s ludicrous statements and even think he is putting unfair pressure onto his sons before they even get the chance to dribble a ball in the league.  Some tend to think he is also hurting his sons’ financial earning potential with some of the things he is saying.  In 2016 he launched the “Big Baller Brand” (BBB), which is a company that manufactures and sells sports apparel, footwear and accessories.  Back in April he attempted to partner with one of the major brands like Nike, Adidas and Under Armour. All three companies have rejected offers to partner with the BBB brand.

On May 4, BBB released Lonzo’s basketball ZO2 sneakers and sandals. The shoes have been priced at $495 and $995 for autographed sneakers.  The sandals are priced at $220. Ball has received a lot of backlash for the price point of his sneakers because many feel they are too expensive.  As of May 11, around 500 pairs of sneakers and sandals have been sold totaling close to $300,000 in sales.

Why so much flack for Ball and his braggadocios claims about his son, you ask?  Well,many current and former NBA players think Ball is doing himself and his sons a disservice with the actions and comments he makes.  Just when you start to think that Ball is making a smart business move, he then does or says something that seems counterproductive to his self- proclaimed ultimate goal of making his sons brand worth a billion dollars.

On the release date of the ZO2s, he posted this statement on his Twitter page, “Big Baller’s loose!

If you can’t afford the ZO2’s you’re not a BIG BALLER!” This statement did exactly what Ball wanted it to, which is caused people to talk about him and his newly released sneakers. But did it turn some people away that may have purchased his sneakers?

Ball’s antics do not seem to affect where his son Lonzo will be drafted. But in my opinion, anything short of multiple All-Star games and a championship or two for the young man will cause people to rewind the tapes and play back some of the unbelievable claims Ball made before his son even played a game.

I can easily understand why Ball has turned so many people away from his sons and their brand. But I cannot blame him for setting the price point for his sneakers so high. He is his own boss and makes all of the decisions, whether they be right or wrong. If the shoes had a Gucci or Dolce & Gabbana on the side I don’t think people would have a problem with the price.

I commend Ball for possibly starting a new trend of athletes and their families capitalizing on their own brands even before they step onto the field of play professionally. When you are the first to do something there will always be mistakes but I think Ball is onto something.  People thought Nike was crazy for pricing Jordan’s at $100, now the Jordan Brand is probably the most recognizable in basketball sneakers with a price point over $200 for many of his shoes.

If the three Ball boys turn out to be terrific players, Ball will go down as a genius when people look back at his strategy, but that’s an awful lot of pressure placed on the shoulders of three young men who have yet to step on the hardwood of an NBA court.

All eyes will be on Lonzo this fall when he laces them up for whatever team drafts him and if he does well, LiAngelo and LaMelo will have to follow suit in years to come. Only time will tell.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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