SBD/July 17, 2017/Marketing and Sponsorship

LaVar Ball Says Son Lonzo Open To Signing Shoe Deal With Big Brands If Price Is Right

Lonzo Ball wore Stephen Curry's yet-to-be-released Under Armour shoes on Saturday
LaVar Ball said there is still a chance for a big shoe brand to sign his son, Lakers G Lonzo Ball, "if the price is right," according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. LaVar Ball: "Quite frankly we are officially in the shoe game, and are a billion dollar brand either way." After wearing his Big Baller Brand signature ZO2 shoes in the Lakers' first two Summer League games and Nike for the third, Lonzo Ball wore Adidas "for the fourth" and on Saturday night wore Warriors G Stephen Curry's "yet-to-be-released Under Armour shoes." Lonzo Ball said he decides which shoes to wear "when he wakes up." Asked if his shoe choices are part of a master plan, Lonzo said, "You could say that" (ESPN.com, 7/15). ESPN’s Adnan Virk said, "Wearing the different shoe brands is weak. Stick with Big Baller Brand." ESPN’s Bomani Jones said of the Ball family, "They figured out that it doesn't make any sense to try to do this off the top with their own money. They might as well go get some Nike money or whoever they wind up signing a deal with. I think that’s what they’re doing, I think they're trying to get a deal" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 7/17).

BREADTH OF A SALESMAN: ESPN’s Shelley Smith said of Lonzo Ball wearing different brands of shoes, “LaVar Ball is proving to be a very smart marketer, and I say that with a lot of hesitation, but nobody has been talking about shoes like they have with Lonzo Ball. He's got Nike, he’s got Adidas, now he’s got ... the black low-side Steph Curry 4’s that haven't even been released to the public and he's already wearing them so he’s a very shrewd marketing guy. ... They're setting themselves up for a big payday with someone" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 7/16). ESPN’s Amin Elhassan said, "They’re trying to show (brands), ‘Look at the buzz when he just put your shoes on, everyone goes nuts.’ The other theory which I think sounds a little bit more closer to home -- the ZO2’s probably weren't as good a performance shoe as he originally thought and so now he’s trying out different shoes to go back to the designers.” But Elhassan said it “feels like they just abandoned the whole brand." ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk said, "It’s adding to Big Baller Brand, in a weird way. It’s just creating a buzz so that when they do get Big Baller Brand right and correct (the brand awareness will be high)" ("The Jump," ESPN, 7/14). ESPN’s David Jacoby said "now we’re paying too much attention" to Ball's shoes ("SportsNation," ESPN, 7/14).

EVERYTHING TO GAINES: Ball Sports Group's Harrison Gaines, who reps Lonzo, said that he was hand-picked by LaVar Ball to represent his sons, as he had a "genuine relationship" with the family. Gaines: "When I met them, I was still in law school. There were no expectations. I enjoyed watching the boys play. I built a great relationship with LaVar and Tina and it just grew from there." Asked if the boys' father comes across as controlling, Gaines said LaVar "empowers" him in his role as an agent. Gaines: "He trusts my business acumen on the NBA side, he trusts my knowledge of the game." Gaines noted that he still has his own firm, Slash Sports, where he represents "all other clients," like former NBAer Jamaal Franklin. Gaines: "I'm looking to build from there and grow the business with the right guys, implementing the mentorship aspects, the life-after-basketball aspect. Everything of that nature" (ESPN.com, 7/11).
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