2017 NBA Draft: Will LaVar Ball turn his son into Big Faller brand?

Mar 4, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Lavar Ball embraces his son UCLA Bruins guard Lonzo Ball (2) after the game against the Washington State Cougars at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

LaVar Ball has gotten a lot of publicity from his son”s playing ability, but will it come back to backfire on their brand?

LaVar Ball, not his son, Lonzo (you know, formerly of the UCLA Bruins) continues to remain in the spotlight. Let’s be honest, LaVar has a great business model: Say outlandish things and the media will continue to place a microphone in his face.

He’s said he could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one. He’s said his sons are worth $1 billion. Recently, he even made some sexist comments to Fox Sports radio host Kristine Leahy.

It’s never been done with Stephen Curry‘s parents, LeBron James‘ mom, not even Michael Jordan’s parents got this kind of polarizing attention. Some say it could affect Lonzo Ball’s status as an NBA professional, but not so fast.

Some critics feel as though it’s on Lonzo to correct his father or straighten him out. However, when reflecting on the situation, I can’t ever find a time I’ve tried or even felt it was my place to tell the people who brought me into the world how to act.

LaVar is an adult, as is Lonzo, but before Lonzo stepped on UCLA’s campus, he knew who his father was, how his father acted. So, everything that is happening comes as no surprise to Lonzo.

On the flip side, fans can’t wait to call him out. Some call him bad for the game, some say he’s going to ruin Lonzo’s draft stock, but nobody seems to want to remove the microphone from in front of his mouth.

Stay in your lane

To this day, I couldn’t tell you why Fox Sports 1 and ESPN continue to put the man on the screen other than to boost ratings. Will his words hurt his brand? I don’t know. His brand is almost a month old.

Take this exchange with Kristine Leahy. Leahy put herself in the crosshairs by saying “How would your brand appeal to me?” and honestly, LaVar responded accordingly:

After listening, it seems there’s some tension between Kristine Leahy and LaVar, and with good reason. It was Leahy herself who said she’d never wear a shirt that said “Big Baller Brand” prior to this exchange. She went on to attack LaVar’s brand and in my opinion, he did what most people do when attacked: he defended himself.

Was he disrespectful? If you consider Big Baller Brand a company for females, maybe, however, it’s a basketball shoe company. With Lonzo as their front man, one could only assume it’s predominantly for men.

Leahy suggesting LaVar should market to men and women was uncalled for as it’s not her brand and it’s solely her own opinion.

Big Baller Brand released the “ZO2”, Lonzo’s first shoe, on May 4 to a bit of fanfare. The shoe came with a $495 price tag, so obviously sales were a bit low.

However, find a rookie prospect with a shoe deal that isn’t sponsored by Nike or Adidas or Reebok. What LaVar Ball is doing is bold for the NBA and innovative for any player trying to get out from under the payroll of the NCAA.

Could the price point be lower? Very much so, but the brand is advertised as a luxury brand. Would the brand be relevant if LaVar Ball didn’t continue to make outlandish comments? I say no. Fans wouldn’t be actively seeking out more information on his brand, his sons or his comments if this were the case.

Living up to the hype

LaVar probably has rubbed some folks the wrong way but in an era where capitalism reigns supreme, find a parent that 1) owns their own company and 2) markets their brand to benefit their children. LaVar is rare in that regard. He’s become the mouthpiece for his sons while their job is to produce on the basketball court. You don’t find that every day in the NBA.

Lonzo hasn’t stepped on an NBA court yet, but when he does, he has some hype to live up to. So far, he’s lived up to the hype in the college ranks.

He averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals in his lone season with the UCLA Bruins, who went 31-5 in the 2016-17 season. The Chino Hills native led the Bruins to their first 30-win season since the 2007-08 season.

His dad, LaVar, is currently doing his best to discourage any team other than the Los Angeles Lakers from drafting Lonzo, going as far as saying he will only work out for the Lakers before the NBA Draft.

It’s a risky move, which, if the Lakers don’t draft him, could come back to haunt the Ball family. For now, the brand seems to be in good hands, whether folks like LaVar Ball’s confidence in his brand and children or not.

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