By Joshua M Hicks (@jhicks042)
The Triple B’s took a loss? What about never losing? You can’t be serious.
Well, unlike Kenan Thompson acting like LaVar Ball, yes we can.
The infamous Big Baller Brand that Ball spoke into existence and made into a publicity machine as his oldest son, Lonzo became a college basketball star and entered the NBA, has seen its fortunes take a turn for the worst after co-founder and business manager Alan Foster stole $1.5 million from Lonzo’s account.
The young Lakers point guard has since then reportedly cut ties with the family brand and is now on the verge of possibly signing with Nike. Ball’s latest move is an unfortunate move, but its a move that needed to be made to solidify his future in the league.
LaVar Ball is pretty much known for his outlandish and easily spoofable outtakes when it comes to promoting his brand, like his infamous claims that he could beat Michael Jordan 1-on-1 or that his three boys (LiAngelo and LaMelo along with Lonzo) could win it all in the NBA alongside LeBron James.
Ball has proven himself a relentless self-promoter who may be willing to provoke reaction as much as he is really trying to change the game, but overall, he is just like any regular African-American family man: a guy that wants the best for his kids, and one of the ways he strived to enhance he and his sons’ lot in life was by the creation of BBB. However, the senior Ball created numerous distractions along the way and allowed for vast amounts of undue pressure to build on his kids to perform at an elite level on all professional platforms, something that could have, and maybe already have, hurt his kids’ future in professional basketball.
When LiAngelo Ball got caught for shoplifting in China while traveling with UCLA, he could have easily accepted his year-long suspension and came back for his sophomore year, but instead he listened to his father and ended up dropping out of school to play half a year overseas. He later played in LaVar’s Junior Basketball Association, a player-development league that supports players to forgo college, play in a professional setting and get paid before entering the NBA. Unfortunately, it is not getting much publicity and support as a whole due to the NBA’s “professional version” of the JBA, which we know it as the G-League, the middle Ball brother has since made the transition and is now playing in the G-League.
LaMelo Ball had been riding a roller coaster path as well. Instead of finishing high school basketball at Chino Hills and creating the path to be a top college recruit, LaVar took him out of school to join his brother overseas. Now he is at SPIRE Institute in Ohio, but currently not a ranked player, putting his ideal big branded D-1 scholarship chances in the dark.
From a business perspective, BBB should have been cognizant of its involvement with now former business manager Alan Foster.
Foster has maintained a long-term friendship with LaVar and the Ball family, but he has a history of conducting similar criminal behavior. In 2002, Foster was sentenced to more than seven years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of mail fraud and two counts of money laundering as part of a scheme that defrauded 70 investors of $4 million, according to federal records accounted for and reported by ESPN.
I understand LaVar probably wanted to provide a “changed man” a second chance in life, but being this is the family brand, he should not have Foster operating as one of the top positions within the business, especially since the business itself has been very inconsistent with its production. There have been many reports of people supporting the brand, but have not received their purchases, a negative strike that fits the unfortunate reality of stereotypical black-owned businesses.
Listen to the latest “In The Scope Podcast” featuring Joshua M. Hicks (anchor.fm)
With the support BBB was receiving, its production should not have matched its reality. These multiple knocks against the brand now hurt its value and the Ball family name, but Lonzo now has the chance to change that narrative.
Lonzo’s basketball journey may not have been easy, but it was the ideal blueprint that supported the traditional success of the young athlete. He brought all the hype to UCLA, played well and ended getting drafted 2nd overall but his legendary hometown franchise. He did endure some struggles, from turning down multiple shoe deals to stay with the family brand to dealing with his father’s comedic, yet serious outbursts and not to mention failure to live up to projected up many league executives and analysts expected, many of which was established by LaVar himself.
But unlike his brothers, Lonzo is finally taking advantage of the life he wants to live, not just following through on what his father wants. By not following his father’s steps, he can re-earn the money he lost by passing those earlier shoe offers, increase the chances of staying healthy by playing in a more productive shoe and focus on improving his skill set.
Maybe as he continues to do music videos and reality shows, he can use his refurbished brand to create a new path for future branding success, and one day the family brand can re-live to the hype LaVar once proclaimed, but this time, it will be on Lonzo’s terms.
Joshua M. Hicks is the lead columnist of WARR