Big Shoe Companies Out of Endorsement Negotiations with Lonzo Ball

By S. Christopher Emerson

UCLA Bruins guard Lonzo Ball with his father Lavar Ball

UCLA Bruins guard Lonzo Ball with his father Lavar Ball

UCLA hoops phenom Lonzo Bell is not being considered for endorsements by the top three basketball shoe and apparel companies, Nike, Under Armour and Adidas, even though many anticipate his promising career ahead of the 2017 NBA Draft.

LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s father and representative in the negotiations, has confirmed that none of those companies were interested in completing a deal with the Ball family.

But that may be because of the elder Ball’s pitch that is unattractive to the companies. reports that in his meetings with all three companies, LaVar insisted that they license his budding Big Baller Brand. He also showed the companies a shoe prototype he hoped would be Lonzo’s first shoe.

The elder Ball feels that the big shoe companies prefer to have more control of their endorsers and their deals, whereas his pitch is for, at least, equal control.

“We’ve said from the beginning, we aren’t looking for an endorsement deal,” LaVar told ESPN. “We’re looking for co-branding, a true partner. But they’re not ready for that because they’re not used to that model. But hey, the taxi industry wasn’t ready for Uber, either.”

Lonzo declared for the draft after one season at UCLA. His younger brothers have committed to UCLA as well; LiAngelo who is set to arrive on campus this year, and LaMelo, who is currently completing his sophomore year in high school.

Ball has not disclosed how much Big Baller brand is worth, but says that that shouldn’t have been on the minds of shoe company reps.

“When Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion, those guys weren’t profitable,” LaVar said.

Now that the big three American shoe companies are out of negotiations, Ball says he will reach out to the Chinese brands, including Peak, Li-Ning and Anta, and he’s not counting out taking on an entrepreneurial partner outside the business, including Facebook.

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