LaVar Ball is always cooking up something. After successfully marketing his three incredibly talented sons into household names, he continues to impress with new ways to create publicity and revenue. He successfully launched Big Baller Brand after saying it would take $3 Billion to sign his kids to a traditional shoe deal, funneled Lonzo to his hometown Los Angeles Lakers, has turned the youngest son, LaMelo Ball, into a mixtape superstar, and has launched a groundbreaking reality show to be aired on Facebook.
Today, Big Baller Brand announced that they would be following up Lonzo’s signature ZO2 (selling for a whopping $425) by giving 16 year old, still in high school LaMelo Ball his own signature shoe. The Melo Ball 1 was announced via Slam, who’s site promptly crashed shortly after due to the high traffic, and on Twitter with a short video featuring LaMelo eating a bowl of cherries and taking shots from his house while Lonzo raps about him in the background.
🚨 EXCLUSIVE: LaMelo Ball becomes the first high school player to have his own sneaker.
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) August 31, 2017
Say what you want about LaVar Ball’s personality or how he treats others, specifically women (I’m not a fan) but after watching that commercial and knowing how entrepreneurial he is, I am getting the feeling this announcement is just the beginning of a master plan at work.
Twitter was on fire with tons of takes after the announcement was made, but a lot of people were talking about LaMelo’s future in regards to the NCAA. It is clear that he won’t be able to make any money off his name or likeness when he is enrolled at UCLA, but what if that isn’t the plan anymore?
What if, instead of going through the gigantic hassle that is the NCAA, LaMelo goes overseas for a season? Think about it. Lots of prospects are doing it since Brandon Jennings made it fashionable and it isn’t hurting their draft stock much. Going pro overseas would give
Think about it. Lots of prospects are doing it since Brandon Jennings made it fashionable and it isn’t hurting their draft stock much. Going pro overseas would give LaMelo Ball a chance to take his already impressive brand to a market that is starving for a star, play without being under the microscope, and continue to make money off of his name and likeness.
If I’m LaVar Ball I’m looking around at players like Dwanye Wade, Stephon Marbury, and Klay Thompson; all players that went the untraditional route with their signature shoes. Wade is the face of Li-Ning, one of the most popular brands in Asia after spurning Jordan Brand, Thompson heads up Anta after not getting a lucrative enough deal from traditional companies, and Marbury started his own brand so he can control the prices of his product to allow those that can’t afford expensive shoes to have a quality product.
All three of these players are revered in overseas markets and are truly global superstars. LaMelo Ball could start being that the minute he graduates high school. Why would he enroll at UCLA for one season and go through the headache that is the NCAA? Their system is based on preventing athletes from making money off their own likeness in return for a free education. For some that is nice, but for the ones that are for sure going pro, it’s like getting paid in gift cards to a place you never would’ve gone to in the first place.
LaMelo Ball is extremely marketable and he is arguably one of the most popular high school athletes ever. I wouldn’t let an entity like the NCAA mooch off of me for eight to ten months while risking injury playing in games that wouldn’t mean much to me anyway. Instead, I’d sign with a professional team in China and start working on trying to become the most popular player in the world.
The Asian market loves basketball. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have special edition shoes only available in Asia, Stephen Curry has spent the past two or three offseasons touring Asia in the offseason, Dwayne Wade is held in the highest regard, and every product Jeremy Lin sells turns to gold (including his new fragrance).
Could you imagine the frenzy surrounding the Ball family when LaMelo spurns the NCAA because he doesn’t want to give up his brand to go pro in China? Think of all the people that would turn into their Facebook-based reality TV show to see how he was developing overseas, how LaVar could control the spin around everything surrounding
Think of all the people that would turn into their Facebook-based reality TV show to see how he was developing overseas, how LaVar could control the spin around everything surrounding LaMelo’s game (much like he does now), and they could make a lot of money with BBB overseas.
This could be the beginning of a media and marketing phenomena that hasn’t been seen yet in the basketball world. If LaMelo turns out to be as good as everyone thinks he will be, this is the only decision that makes sense to me. LaVar is looking to start an empire with these kids and is doing things in entirely new ways. He could end up being crazy like a fox.