LONZO Ball is already making history even before he enters the NBA as a potential top pick in the upcoming draft, but it’s not exactly a feat worth celebrating for the former UCLA standout.
In a report by ESPN’s Darren Rovell, Ball’s father LaVar confirmed that Nike, adidas, and Under Armour have all informed their camp that they were not interested in making an endorsement deal with the 19-year-old guard.
Sources in the three shoe and apparel companies also affirmed this historic development that major sports brands have stepped away from an upcoming star in the NBA draft. The dealbreaker for the companies was LaVar’s efforts to include the licensing of his Big Baller Brand in the deal. The controversial father also showed the three brands a prototype for his son’s first signature shoe.
“We've said from the beginning, we aren't looking for an endorsement deal. 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," said LaVar, looking ahead to shake up the shoe endorsement industry with two more sons showing potential in basketball.
"Just imagine how rich Tiger [Woods], Kobe [Bryant], Serena [Williams], [Michael] Jordan and LeBron [James] would have been if they dared to do their own thing. No one owned their own brand before they turned pro. We do, and I have three sons, so it's that much more valuable," he added.
Lonzo averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 assists and 6 rebounds in his single season with UCLA before declaring for the NBA draft, where he is in the mix for the top pick along with Washington’s Markelle Fultz. Ball’s brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo have already committed to UCLA.
With the major companies out of the picture, LaVar is looking to make a deal with Chinese brands like Anta, Peak and Li-Ning with the same partnership offer and prototype of Lonzo’s first shoe.
"We're not going to sign with a company and then wait around for five or six years for a shoe like Paul George had to wait for with Nike," he said.