The idea seems a little outrageous, but one former NBA player thinks that the problem with the Balls is that LaVar’s message gets lost in his hyperbole. Stephon Marbury, who plays in China and sells Starbury apparel and shoes ($14.98 online in America) there, doesn’t mind what Lonzo’s father is dreaming up.
“LaVar Ball wants a billion dollars. There is nothing wrong with saying that is what he wants. It’s how he’s said it,” Marbury, a China Basketball Association free-agent guard, told The Undefeated. “If he was able to express why he wanted it and explained it without saying it how he said it, which is his prerogative, he wouldn’t be scaring people. He has three kids who are really good basketball players. He should want to own his own brand. That is the smartest way of doing it. With his son [Lonzo] being a dominant college player and projected to be a high pick in the NBA draft, he will be able to use his capital that he makes to invest in himself, which is the best investment.”
Getting involved with Lonzo or his brothers, LiAngelo or LaMelo, means striking a relationship with LaVar, who is holding out for Big Baller Brand to be licensed through him. So far, the big companies — Nike, Adidas and Under Armour — have not jumped at the idea. If no deal is reached, Lonzo Ball could be the first top-five pick to wear the BBB sneaker. A traditional sneaker deal would most likely be for about four years at $1.5 annually, a source told The Vertical’s Nick DePaula.
Is a deal a possibility? Sure. An agreement between Adidas and the Ball Sports Group is “not dead yet,” a source told The Vertical. Under Armour does not plan to pitch a deal for Lonzo, although the company has a contract with UCLA, where LiAngelo will be a student this fall. LaMelo has verbally committed to the school, too. Nike co-founder Phil Knight said last month that “we have an interest” in Lonzo but found the idea of a billion-dollar deal “a little steep.”
LaVar is also reaching out to companies in China and Marbury, who knows the country and the market, says he’d deliver the message “come rock with us” to Ball, although he’d prefer to advise and not partner with Ball. What LaVar is trying to do “makes sense” for his family, Marbury says.
“[Lonzo] has the opportunity to play well and do all the things needed to be a really good basketball player. With that being said, he controls what is going to happen,” Marbury said. “He creates an infrastructure with different social networks and platforms to utilize those channels to sell his product. If he is playing well and doing well, people will support his family. A lot of people are going to pass judgment on how [LaVar] is delivering his message. But if you listen to everything he is saying, it makes sense for him to create his own brand for his kids.”
Whatever happens, this much is certain: LaVar Ball is only getting started.
As for that $200 price tag, well, let’s just say that the Internet greeted that skeptically.