How LaVar Ball cost Lonzo a shoe deal with Nike, Adidas and others

Lonzo Ball is the most well-known player of the 2017 NBA Draft class, and not just because of his basketball skills. Ball’s father, LaVar, has been fueling the Lonzo Ball hype for months and famously boasted that his family was worth a billion-dollar shoe deal – but he just cost his son lucrative potential endorsement deals with major brands.

Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all decided to pass on signing the UCLA point guard to an apparel deal, and Lonzo’s outspoken father, LaVar Ball, seems to be the reason why.

The elder Ball, who represented his son in meetings with the companies, is looking for a type of deal that’s never been done before, according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.

In his meetings with all three companies, LaVar insisted that they license his upstart Big Baller Brand from him, according to the companies. 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.”


Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all confirmed to ESPN that they are no longer interested in Ball representing their brands. And with the three biggest players in the shoe game out, LaVar plans to seek out a partnership with Chinese brands, with hopes of releasing Lonzo’s signature shoe in the immediate future.

“We’re not going to sign with a company and then wait around for five or six years for a shoe like Paul George had to wait for with Nike,” Ball said.

LaVar said he has been working on the shoe design “ever since my boys were born.”

While Lonzo is projected to be a top-three pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, his father has stolen the spotlight from him in recent months, making outlandish comments and publicly feuding with prominent NBA figures, including LeBron James and Charles Barkley. Just last week, a Nike consultant said LaVar is “the worst thing to happen to basketball in the last hundred years.”

While LaVar insists he’s doing what’s best for Lonzo, his behavior could end up costing his son millions.