Big Baller Brand: Game Changing Vision...Wrong Execution.
There was a time 3 years ago the Ball family was gracing the storylines of various sports tv networks and online publications. You would have Lavar Ball, leading the charge making bullish statements about his sons, Lonzo, LaMelo, and LiAngelo or him saying he could beat Michaal Jordan 1 on 1.
The youngest of the 3 brothers, LaMelo, has just recently signed a 5 year endorsement deal with PUMA on Friday. The financial details weren’t disclosed, but the deal includes a signature shoe deal. This is something not all top prospects are rewarded as they enter the league.
PUMA has made a resurgence in their basketball division. They have a solid roster of athletes in their portfolio such as Skylar Diggins-Smith, Michael Porter Jr, and RJ Barrett. They have also added celebrities such as J. Cole, and soccer superstar, Neymar.
With LaMelo signing with PUMA, it makes you wonder what went down with the Ball family brand, ‘Big Baller Brand.’
The rise and fall of Big Baller Brand is unbelievable. It began with a self-proclaimed billion dollar valuation, to mark it’s merchandise 90%. The brand has had a rocky 4-year run.
Big Baller had an opportunity to revolutionize how future athletes would approach marketing themselves moving forward. They presented a path to an unchartered territory no athlete has ever done. They had everything right in front of them, but poor execution was the reason for their demise. Let’s go through a timeline of how everything unfolded.
April, 2016 - Big Baller Brand is Founded.
LaVar Ball officially launched the Big Baller Brand website in early 2016. Their mission statement:
“We are proud to announce the soft launch of Big Baller Brand as of June 2016.
It is both an honor and a privilege to bring this family-oriented and -created brand to the public. Now you too can celebrate the athleticism and discipline it truly takes to become a 'Ball' player. Join our community of basketball and sports lovers, as well as 'Ball brother' fans by purchasing our one and only Big Baller shirts or apparel. You won't regret it."
March, 2017: LaVar asks for $1 Billion Dollars.
At this point, Big Baller Brand was only manufacturing, marketing, and selling apparel. LaVar has become popular on television and social media taking the world by storm. During his run with the press, he’s asked what it would take to get all of the 3 ball brothers to one brand, he replied:
Nike responded to this saying LaVar the “worst thing to happen to basketball in the last hundred years.”
May, 2017: Lonzo Ball Unveils His Signature Shoe.
After being denied a co-branding partnership with Nike, LaVar and Lonzo Ball announced their first signature Big Baller Brand shoe - The ZO2 priced at $495!
LaVar was asked why the sneakers were priced so high. The top tier basketball shoes of NBA superstars in the market rarely cross the $200 price point. LaVar responded in the most LaVar way possible:
“That’s what the shoe is worth”
To add more to it, the shoes did not come with returns, refunds, or exchanges. Social media had a field day with it.
August, 2017: Jay-Z endorses LaVar Ball and Big Baller Brand.
Jay-Z was on the rap radar podcast, and he shared his support for the Big Baller Brand vision:
August 2017: LaMelo Becomes The First High School Athlete With His Own Signature Shoe.
With the high endorsement from Jay-Z, the family went all in and made LaMelo Ball the first high school athlete ever to have his own signature basketball shoes. The ‘MB1’, which was priced $100 cheaper than Lonzo’s shoe at $395.
January, 2018: The Better Business Bureau Call Out Big Baller Brand.
Orders and delivery times were stretched into weeks and even months. After not receiving product or hearing anything from the brand, customers began flooding the brand’s Better Business Bureau with negative reviews.
Lavar was asked about the “F” rating and he said he thought the “Better Business Bureau was out of business” and that “Yelp! Is more important.”
He goes on to say:
March, 2019: Lonzo’s Money Goes Missing.
Things were already going bad, but they got much worse in March 2019.
Lonzo Ball parted ways with Alan Foster, their business manager and the co-founder of the Big Baller Brand. He allegedly embezzled $1.5M from Ball’s personal and business accounts.
Lonzo filed a lawsuit against Foster which is still ongoing. Foster is also being investigated by the FBI for fraud against multiple other business entities including the Big Baller Brand.