Unbearable Sports Dad LaVar Ball has been stumping to get son Lonzo Ball a massive shoe deal since, well, what feels like the beginning of recorded history. He mentioned a plan that would net $1 billion and something that would include all of his basketball-playing sons. A shoe deal for a presumptive No. 1 pick is common, so even if LaVar was aiming high, Lonzo was sure to end up with some massive endorsement deal.
Well, maybe not.
According to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com, Lonzo isn’t getting anything.
Ball’s father LaVar confirmed that the three shoe and apparel companies informed him that they were not interested in doing a deal with his son. Sources with the three companies told ESPN.com that they indeed were moving on.
Never in the history of modern day shoe endorsements have the big companies all stepped away from a potential top pick nearly two months before the NBA draft. But the proposition that LaVar, who has been representing Lonzo on the deal, was offering also has no precedence.
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.
Can you just picture LaVar standing in the board room, holding a sneaker he designed and Lonzo sitting in the corner embarrassed as can be? It’s like when your parent comes to school to talk about their work and they go off on a tangent about how their little boy in the back used to wet his bed until he was 6. Lonzo needs to break free of this situation immediately.
Although, LaVar does have a point here.
“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.”
You understand the idea of LaVar wanting his sons to have their own thing and not sign away so much of their rights to a shoe company, but man, it also feels like LaVar read one book on business and thinks he knows everything. Even if all those elite athletes would be richer, do you think any of them are walking around today thinking, “Sure, I have God levels of money, but it sucks that I don’t have a little bit more.” Maybe Kobe, but that’s it.
What should be free and easy money for a college freshman is becoming a headache for a player that will still get a fantastic entry-level contract from someone, but LaVar seems to be finding new and financially crippling ways to mess up Lonzo.