Lonzo Ball, the most well-known prospect in the 2017 NBA Draft, is not considered an endorsement prospect by the only three shoe companies that matter in basketball: Nike, Under Armour and Adidas.
A report from ESPN.com says the three apparel companies will not do business with the Ball family. It appears LaVar Ball, Lonzo's father, is the reason. The most notorious quote in basketball for the past five months has stymied his son's short-term earning potential by turning his family name into its own corporation. LaVar Ball has been pushing his Big Baller Brand for months, hoping to create a billion-dollar enterprise.
Consequently and unfortunately, Lonzo Ball became as famous for his dazzling game (he is still in the mix to be the No. 1 pick in this June's draft) as his father's almost-daily quotes on everything from college basketball to Charles Barkley to shoe companies to his belief he 'would kill' Michael Jordan in one-on-one.
As the weeks have gone on, LaVar Ball's credibility has taken a hit, and now it's having adverse effect on his son.
If no one knew LaVar Ball, and the humble Lonzo Ball were known only for his talents and affiliation with resurrecting UCLA basketball, he'd be a priority for Nike, Adidas or Under Armour. Instead, it looks like LaVar's vision means the Ball family will not receive a cent from companies that essentially run basketball at every level in this country.
More context, via ESPN.com:
In his meetings with the three, LaVar insisted that the company license his upstart Big Baller Brand from him. He also showed the companies a shoe prototype that he hoped would be Lonzo's first shoe.
"We've said from the beginning, we aren't looking for an endorsement deal," LaVar told ESPN. "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. ... 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."
LaVar Ball sees himself as a visionary. If you've got baskteball talent in your family -- legitimate, top-level NBA talent -- why shouldn't or couldn't you be able to start your own apparel company? That's how you keep the most earning power. But LaVar Ball only has his mouth. What he needs is money.
He's trying to convince companies worth billions to take a risk. Here's how he justifies it: "When Facebook bought Whatsapp for $19 billion, those guys weren't profitable," LaVar Ball told ESPN.com.
So now, per ESPN's report, Ball will attempt to negotiate with brands out of China, such as a Peak, Li-Ning and Anta. There are still almost two months before the NBA Draft, and then the offseason before Lonzo gets on the court. Until his son is able to prove that he can have undeniable star quality with the best in the world, LaVar Ball will have no choice but to wait out the market. Even he can't say anything to change that.