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WTF is Wrong With Big Baller Brand?

Date: June 28 2019

By: Gabe Filippa

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When Lonzo Ball’s manager shoved the ZO2 sneaker down a garbage chute, the Big Baller Brand obituary was complete. 

An FBI investigation, a $3 million lawsuit, the siphoning of $1.5 million, an F grade from the Better Business Bureau, covered tattoos and bloated price tags, surely this was the end of Big Baller Brand and their relentless frontman, LaVar Ball?

Not quite. 

This is the story of the spectacular rise and fall of Big Baller Brand.

'The brand is good. It's just somebody did something bad to it ... We had a snake up in the thing, but you gotta understand this – I'm a snake charmer. When you're a snake charmer, you're gonna get bit.' – LaVar Ball

‘The Kardashian of the NBA’

‘I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one’ LaVar Ball told USA Today in 2017. ‘He cannot stop me one-on-one. He better make every shot ’cause he can’t go around me. He’s not fast enough.’

LaVar has never played basketball professionally. In college, he played for Washington State, where he averaged 2.2 points per game, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists. Later, LaVar played football for the London Monarchs. During the 1995 season, he recorded zero catches and 28 yards in kick returns.

The public dissing of Michael Jordan is just one in a series of bizarre comments made by LaVar Ball. 

He once described his son Lonzo as ‘Magic Johnson with a jumper’. When Lonzo was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans, LaVar said it was the ‘the worst move the Lakers ever did in their life’, and that the team would ‘never win another championship’. 

No story of the Big Baller Brand would be complete without citing its patriarch. LaVar’s ego has already sent him on a collision course with Donald Trump, blew up a potential $10 million deal between Lonzo and Nike, and resulted in the so-called ‘LaVar Ball Rule’, which forbade the media members from speaking with the Ball family at Lakers home games.

Zo 2 Big Baller Brand Left

The ZO2 | Big Baller Brand

‘If you can’t afford the ZO2s, you’re NOT a BIG BALLER’

LaVar Ball launched Big Baller Brand in 2016 alongside his core family values creed.

Based in Chino Hills, California (all three of LaVar’s sons played basketball at Chino Hills High), the brand sought-out sneaker company Brandblack for assistance in the creation of Lonzo’s first signature, the ZO2. On March 7, 2017, BBB trademarked the slogan ‘Built for This’.

Everything about the Big Baller Brand was exaggerated – starting with the $495 price tag. 

On May 2017, Big Baller Brand revealed the Z02. Immediately hit with criticism, LaVar took to Twitter to defend the decision.

But why the huge price tag? 

Well, because LaVar ‘liked the way it sounds’. 

‘I figured that’s what the shoe is worth … You see, when you’re your own owner, you can come up with any price you want, how high you feel it is.’

Lonzo Ball Paris Fashion Week

@zo

#dumpurmerch

In 2018, the Better Business Bureau stamped Big Baller Brand with an F grade. Citing poor customer service and extraordinary delays, the Better Business Bureau continues to receive ‘a pattern of complaints’. Even the All Star baseball player Adam Jones took to social media to voice his grievances after receiving the ZO2 Prime Remix 12 months late.

Then the freefall shifted gears. 

In April this year, Lonzo filed a $3 million lawsuit against Alan Foster. ‘Foster had conspired to embezzle millions’, Lonzo wrote, ‘and then divert those funds for his personal use, including to acquire assets in Ethiopia.’

Foster was a long-time family friend, and served as the business manager of Big Baller Brand. He owns 16.3 percent of Big Baller Brand. In 2002, Foster served nearly a decade in prison for mail fraud and two counts of money laundering. In April, the FBI launched their own investigation.

News of the betrayal rocked Lonzo.

Fresh ink covered his Big Baller Brand tattoo. On social media, a series of nostalgic posts flooded his timeline, pledging allegiance to Nike. In one of the photos, his brother Melo Ball responded: ‘love u brother, thanks for getting us out my g’.

In March, Lonzo Ball’s manager Darren Moore shoved the ZO2 down the garbage chute, urging others to do the same.

On HBO’s The Shop, Lonzo recently opened up about the experience. 

‘When I told my dad, he shut up,’ Ball told LeBron James. ‘People who see my dad in the media, that’s how they see him. But me, I could tell him anything. That’s the first time I would say that I called him and he literally shut up ... he always talks. That’s the first time I was like, no, you need to listen.’

But over in Las Vegas, it was a different story. LaVar was talking again. 

‘We had a snake up in this thing’, LaVar told the media while promoting the Big Baller Brand All-American game. ‘But you gotta understand this, I’m a snake charmer. Being a snake charmer, you’re gonna get bit, but he can’t kill me.’

In May, LaVar announced that Big Baller Brand wasn't folding. In fact, it was expanding. LaVar is not only planning to rebuild his sportswear brand (the Big Baller Brand website is still currently down), but move into other markets as well. With Lonzo and his brothers attempting to walk away from BBB and a lengthy court case hamstringing the brand, it remains to be seen just how many more bites LaVar can take before the Big Baller Brand finally hits earth. 

UPDATE: In October 2019, while appearing on TMZ, LaVar responded to Lonzo’s potential defect to Nike: ‘Lonzo can think all day. He ain’t signing with nobody. Big Baller Brand. That’s what I said.’

It looks like LaVar is willing to take a few more bites yet...

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