LaVar’s Big Baller Brand and the Cash Grab Theory

Levall Ball.jpg

It Isn’t Easy Being a Big Baller, Is It.

LaVar Ball Maybe a Boisterous Showman, but He Doesn’t Play When it Comes to His Empire.

There’s a strange media debate happening around LaVar Ball. Born in South Central LA, the 50-year-old entrepreneur is the epitome of the American Dream. He’s a father of three athletes: LA Lakers Guard Lonzo Ball, UCLA student and College basketball player LiAngelo, and LaMelo, who plays for pro-ball club BC Prienai in Lithuania. Lavar is building a lucrative empire entailing reality TV shows, crazy TV appearances, and his sportswear line, Big Baller Brand.

What’s the Real Deal?

BBB (the acronym for Big Baller Brand), is the first-ever family-owned sneaker brand championed by a rookie. Adding to scepticism is BBB’s signature Z02’s $495 (USD) price tag, and said rookie, Lonzo – who seems to be the golden child – wearing it and competitor brands on the court, in a bid to ink endorsement deals via the family business. Is this legit, or was this whole thing a ‘stunt’?

Money moves and Twitter frenzies aside, Father Ball strikes me as a goofy character: He’s a lanky, loud oldhead who’d make a great game show host. You know, a guilty pleasure you’d poke fun at in front of your friends, but secretly watch on your laptop at night. His goofy persona has made him a fixation on ESPN and other sports media channels. But seeing how his kids turned out, and the trajectory of BBB, he’s unequivocally an astute individual.

Initially, I didn’t want this to be about LaVar Ball. But a master manipulator has made him synonymous with his line. It’s virtually impossible to separate the two. On the one hand, it’s necessary to support black-owned businesses and get some inspiration from this family’s success. On the other, his antics are of poor taste. Now, I’d be a hypocrite to say I haven’t done things below the belt. I’ve been reckless– we all have. Or at least the brave revel in this reality. And that’s what LaVar and co. are – brave.

If You Knock It, You May Be a Hater.

Since I’m in the business of YouTube, I did a quick search on there to see what the deal was. When removing the hoopla, the consensus is that the sneaker is low in quality and overpriced. They do look like orthopaedic footwear my grandparents would rock, and that’s fair. Maybe the whole point is function over style. But to say the brand is lame because you have an issue with LaVar is unjust.

Where is the material sourced? What are the conditions of the factories they use?  Is this a locally-made brand? Is the family reaped in hardcore scandal? These are things I’d hope we’d ponder, rather than draw conclusions based on personal woes. From what I can see, his kids are just that – kids.

A Family Affair.

In December 2017, his middle son, LiAngelo, got arrested for shoplifting in China – which was a ridiculous move. Nice one, LiAngelo. He was technically in a communist country and was lucky to make it out unscathed. Of course, Donald Trump used this moment to chime in, but that’s a whole other article in itself. Other than that, people make mistakes. Naive people make even dumber mistakes. LaVar received flack for pulling the lad out of UCLA, but regardless, they’ll still be okay. They live in Chino Hills. They’re privileged Gen-Zers. LiAngelo’s move to Lithuania demonstrates this. It was also an expansion opp for LaVar, who opened a store there.

Would I wear the sneaker? No. And I wouldn’t pretend to like it either. But I’m not going to knock this brilliant hustle. He’s using popular culture to his advantage. LeVar’s aware he’s not saving lives. He’s also aware that people want to be entertained.

According to an article posted by Billboard back in 2013, the consulting firm, PwC had projected the entertainment industry would top 2 trillion by 2016, globally. We’re in 2018 now, and LeVar & co., are cashing in.

The rise of the Ball brand means there’s room for everyone. It won’t be easy, but sometimes, you’ve got to be like NIKE and just do it.

Safra Ducreay