As I've watched the lives of the Ball Family unfold over the last year, it's been impossible not to hear more of Poppa Ball AKA Lavar Ball, and his marketing of the Big Baller Brand (BBB), than about the actual skill-set of his son Lonzo—who, by the way, is one of the front runners for being drafted within the top three picks in June’s NBA Draft. Zo's performance as a freshman has wowed fans all over the country and will most likely place him in competition with the "creme de la creme" of NBA rookies next season. However, it seems another level of competition has come from the likes of his own father's grandiose level of promotion of the Big Baller Brand.
On the surface, Lavar Ball seems to be another typical overtly-involved sports dad that wants to see his boy get the most recognition possible. This type of dad is commonplace in youth sports and beyond, yet Lavar Ball is more than that. He's more than just an overbearing dad, that thinks his son is the "2nd coming". No no no... he's the ultimate God-level troll that seems to piss lots of people off with his verbose machismo. The elder Ball captures others with his ability to promote with flair and undeniable captivation. When he talks, people listen. No matter how outlandish the claim may be. For example, he recently stated, when speaking of his oldest heir, "Zo is better than Steph Curry.” Now, anyone with any knowledge of the game of basketball knows this is simply not true.
Based on the time Lavar has been the focus of the much debated controversy surrounding his sons and the BBB, there has been a lot of discussion about the premium price of the shoe and his ability to market it to a "select level" of individuals. The inflated retail of a signature shoe that hasn't been tested, reviewed, or vetted in any way reflects the bravado that Lavar displays concerning his son's, his brand, and most of all himself. Even though he isn't the first to offer an untested product at premium price to the market, he is, however, the first to do this in the basketball arena; One dominated by players who are proven superstars. From a business perspective, the price doesn't match the value that buyers typically find when making that type of purchase.
So. long term. the brand will have to build loyalty in order to sustain and achieve profitability. But again, we seem to be talking more about the shoes, the brand, and the sports dad, instead of the player that is to be drafted on June 22nd; Lonzo Ball. You know the actual basketball player from UCLA that has to perform on the court to solidify his position as one of the sport’s best. His father, Lavar Ball, has solidified himself as one the media's best at garnering attention by arrogantly proclaiming that "Lonzo will only play for the Lakers". It is now time for “Baby Ball” to take the bottle out of his mouth and speak for himself. A young man is only as good as the freedom his father gives him to be autonomous. And if that father inserts himself into the young man’s decisions, he may cripple the opportunity for that young man to grow and develop into the “individual” that he is meant to be. Solely crafted by him, not his dad. It's time for Lavar to pass the ball.
-Samuel Ivan Upshaw