There are a number of ways to determine if a sneaker company is doing well, the easiest being simply looking down to see if anyone actually is wearing the shoes.

There also are a number of ways to determine if a sneaker company is in some sort of distress. Like, say, the company’s main pro-athlete pitchman — and main investor — covering his tattoo of the brand’s logo. That would seem bad.

And Lonzo Ball covering up his Big Baller Brand tattoo would seem to be a very bad sign for the sneaker company co-founded by his father. But now those three Bs are a pair of dice.

Another sign that seems bad: Ball’s manager, Darren Moore, filmed himself dumping a pair of Big Baller sneakers into a trash chute using the hashtag #dumpurmerch, a play off the Big Baller Brand hashtag #GetUrMerch:

There are more foundational signs of trouble for the brand than erased tattoos or thrown-away sneakers, however, and they were detailed in a story by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Paula Lavigne, who wrote last week that Lonzo Ball has severed ties with the brand’s other co-founder, Alan Foster, over concerns that he has misappropriated $1.5 million of the player’s money and did not reveal to the Ball family that he has a criminal past.

Foster, who has been friends with the Ball family for nearly a decade, persuaded LaVar Ball to start a sneaker company for his basketball-playing sons — Lonzo, LaMelo and LiAngelo — rather than allow them to sign deals with more established brands such as Nike or Adidas, the ESPN scribes report. He owned a 16.3 percent stake in the company and was a presence on “Ball in the Family,” the Facebook Watch reality show about, yes, the Ball family.

But in October, Lonzo Ball’s financial adviser sent around an email saying the Lakers guard’s taxes could not be completed because $1.5 million of his money could not be located, and that Foster was the likely culprit. LaVar Ball did not fully acknowledge the email until last week, according to the ESPN report, even after Lonzo raised the issue with him a number of times. The elder Ball was described as “stunned” when it was all laid out for him.

Lonzo Ball also was unaware that Foster had been imprisoned for financial misdeeds earlier this century, Shelburne and Lavigne report.

“In 2002, Foster was sentenced to more than seven years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of mail fraud and two counts of money laundering as part of a scheme that defrauded 70 investors of $4 million, according to federal court records obtained by ESPN. Foster was also ordered to pay $3.7 million in restitution to victims,” they write.

Lonzo Ball has severed ties with Foster, who no longer will appear on “Ball in the Family.” He also seems ready to ditch Big Baller Brand, of which he owns a 51 percent stake. Ball played only 47 games for the Lakers this season before being shut down because of an ankle injury. It was the third such injury of his very young NBA career, and he said the team wanted to know if his sneakers were the root cause.

“Yeah, they talked to me,” Lonzo Ball told ESPN two weeks ago. “They asked me about it, and I told 'em: 'I feel comfortable. If I wasn’t comfortable, I wouldn’t play in ‘em. If I didn’t play in [his signature BBB shoes], I’d play in Kobe [Bryant’s signature Nike shoe]. I work out in [LeBron James’ signature Nike shoe], but that’s because they’re heavier.”

The Lakers also were concerned about Big Baller Brand’s shoddy business reputation, specifically the F grade given to it by the Better Business Bureau and the 200 Federal Trade Commission complaints made against Big Baller Brand from April 2017 through mid-January.

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