Nike, adidas and Under Amour — the big three sportswear brands — have all withdrawn their endorsement offers for NBA prospect Lonzo Ball, according to a new report from ESPN. Senior writer Darren Rovell states their reasoning behind this unprecedented ‘no thank you’ is because Lonzo’s braggadocios father, LaVAr, is demanding them to license his upstart Big Baller Brand rather than a traditional sneaker and apparel deal.
“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.”LaVar went as far as presenting a sneaker prototype that he has been “working on [...] ever since my boys were born” in his meetings with the big three, a model that could be worn by Lonzo when he steps onto the NBA hardwood for the first time next season. He is obviously confident that his son is good enough to have his own signature sneaker, and apparel line, right out of the draft. ”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.
“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.”With the aforementioned labels pulling out, father Ball told ESPN that he will pitch his Big Baller Brand to the lesser known, and lesser worn, Chinese brands, including Peak, Li-Ning and Anta. He also mentioned that he’s not counting out the option of an entrepreneurial partner outside the business. “That includes Facebook,” he said.
LaVar is admittedly prudent. He, like many of us, has seen sneaker companies take advantage of young athletes for decades now, with only a very select few earning their true worth, and later in their career at that. However, he can’t be that naive to think the big three need Lonzo Ball on their roster. And for someone looking for a “true partner,” he should understand that his sons have to earn their keep just like everyone else has, be it Jordan or Paul George.
There are a ton of questions currently swirling around this family, but we wonder: with brands like Peak, Li-Ning and Anta now the frontrunners in the Lonzo Ball sweepstakes, does the former UCLA guard have what it takes to make them cool among young American hoopers? We also wonder what players like D-Wade, Klay Thompson and Dellavedova — all of whom are signed to one of the aforementioned brands – have to say about the Ball family’s request.
As Drake revealed back in January, the Grammy Award winning artist will host the first ever NBA Awards on TNT this summer where we’ll finally find out who will be crowned this season’s MVP, among other top awards, including DPOY, ROY and more. On top of the traditional awards, the show will also announce the winners of six new categories that will be voted on by fans around the world. Here’s the list of those categories and nominees, with video evidence, below.
#DunkOfTheYearFans can cast their vote here or on social media by “posting #AwardName and First/Last Name of their winner (i.e. #DunkOfTheYear Larry Nance).” Hit the comments below and tell us who you’re voting for.
Los Angeles Lakers’ Larry Nance, Jr. vs. Brooklyn
Minnesota’s Zach LaVine vs. Phoenix
Oklahoma City’s Victor Oladipo vs. Atlanta
Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert
Chicago’s Dwyane Wade
Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook
San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard vs. Houston
New York’s Kristaps Porzingis vs. Brooklyn
Miami’s Hassan Whiteside vs. Toronto
Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving vs. Golden State
Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook vs. Denver
Phoenix’s Tyler Ulis vs. Boston
Phoenix’s Devin Booker 70-point game vs. Boston
Houston’s James Harden nets 53-16-17 triple double vs. New York
Golden State’s Klay Thompson scores 60 in three quarters vs. Indiana
Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook with most points in a triple double, 57-13-11, vs. Orlando
Golden State’s Draymond Green to StephenCurry to Kevin Durant
Denver’s Nikola Jokic with no-look pass
LA Clippers’ Chris Paul with wraparound pass
The NBA Awards Show will air June 26 at 9 p.m. EST.