Earlier this week, immediately following the NBA Draft Lottery when the Los Angeles Lakers had secured the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, LaVar Ball, father of UCLA product Lonzo Ball, spoke to Lakers Nation.
The highly controversial head of the Ball family and owner the Big Baller Brand spoke at length about his intentions to get Lonzo Ball in a Lakers jersey. LaVar, who has had no problem expressing his desire to have his son drafted by the storied NBA franchise, talked about his plans moving forward and all the controversy surrounding Lonzo’s new shoe, ZO2.
What’s the biggest misconception about you, Lonzo, and the Big Baller Brand?
Ball: “The biggest misconception? It’s that we so real,” LaVar told Lakers Nation. “We so real. They just can’t believe it. Hurt they head. Anybody go they own way it hurts they head. They not ready for this.
“We’re the first ones ever to come into the league with our own brand. A lot of people that hates about this because they’ve been brainwashed … Adidas and Nike makes it only go up to $220, $230, $250. So that’s where your head is hitting. We don’t want to go no higher.
“So everybody is like, ‘your shoe is $495.’ Yes, but it is my shoe, so I can make it any price I want. Don’t talk about the damn price. The shoe is symbolic. Symbolic comes with a price. Like I told people, forget about the price. It’s our price. It’s my price. When you have your own thing, you put your own price on it. A lot of these kids don’t know what they’re worth and none of them are ever going to sit in a meeting when it comes to the price point because whoever is behind them is like, ‘You go ahead and run and jump and do everything in this shoe and we’ll let you know what the value of the shoe is.’ Wait a minute; I’m the one doing all the work here, why can’t I have any input on how much I think it should cost?
“That’s where people get brain-dead. Where it is like this, they’re talking about ‘Oh, I wouldn’t pay that much because I got to see what Lonzo does.” Why? He’s done enough. You’ve been watching him play at UCLA and high school. He’s done enough.
“My thing is this, Prada or Gucci ain’t jump on no rims and dunked. Put a price out there and ain’t nobody second-guessing it. But now we put a product out there, and now it’s, ‘Wait a minute! The shoe can’t be worth that much, Lonzo has not been in the league long enough to make it worth that much.’ No. Nobody has ever had their own brand, that’s why they never seen that price. They paying for Yeezys and all this other stuff, $1,000. Why can’t I put a price on my shoe what I feel it’s worth if I created it? That’s just like you baking a cake, and they say, ‘You know what we’re going to charge fifty cents for the whole cake,’ but you be like whoa. I put like $20 into it; I think it is worth $35 for the cake. Who is to say it is different? You didn’t have to make five hamburgers or some steak and french fries and say you’re qualified to be a chef to make a cake.
“And that’s when they’re trying to put all these stipulations on things on the fact that we are our own people. We are our own person. A shoe is only a shoe. And Nike, Adidas, and everybody else to go out and look for the next best thing every single time because those shoes mean nothing. It’s the people who wear them and do things in them that makes the shoe something. So that’s why they have to look every year to find the next best guy. We don’t need the shoes; the shoes need us. They can make the best shoe in the world. If the right guy ain’t wearing it or producing or nobody likes it, guess what? It’s a good shoe. You can a shoe, that don’t mean nothing, but if the best guy … everybody loves Jordan, why? Because he won six championships. Jason Kidd won one, but you don’t have nobody walking around talking about, ‘Let me get the new Jason Kidd shoe. Let me get the Penny Hardaway shoe.’ You go for championships. Who’s ever the best. It was Jordan at the time.
“Usually the best person on the court, and this is just a mind thing, the best person on the court has the most expensive shoe on the court. Usually. So now they got to look at it like whoa. Yours is $200. You’re stuck there because Adidas stuck you there. And a Ball boy shoe is $500. Uh-oh. Who the best? So people gonna look at it like that.
“Here’s the thing, it’s been done like this all the time. They give you a little bit of money for an endorsement deal. If that shoe turns out to be good, let’s say they give you $2 million a year. Five years they’re giving you $10 million and after that fifth year, you pretty much like Kyrie Irving. You made it to the championship. You won a championship. Now they say, ‘You know what? Let’s give him a 10-year deal. $20 million a year. $200 million. Oh boy, people say, ‘I was only making $10 million, now they’ll give me $200, I’ll take it!’ But they already made $3 or $4 billion off your shoes throughout those years. So you got crumbs.”
“This shoe is memorabilia. Have you ever heard of memorabilia going down? Usually, it goes up … regardless of how good or bad Lonzo does. That shoe is going to be symbolic. This was the shoe of the sorriest guy who was a bust, or you can say this was the shoe of the greatest player who came in with his own brand and won all these championships. Either way, it’s memorabilia.”
Is the Laker locker room going to be stocked with Lonzo’s shoes?
LB: “Yeah, if they go online and buy them or unless Lonzo says they’re good enough to bring them in. Saying, ‘You know what, whoever wants them I got you guys.'”
Are you going to recruit some of the Lakers players for Big Baller Brand?
LB: “No. I’m going to have the only sports group with three boys.
“I’m not going more than my three boys right now. I just want to make sure my boys are taken care of, so I’m going to have the only sports group with three guys. A billion-dollar enterprise with three people.
“That’s what I’m going to do. After it is all said and done, and my boys are well taken care of, that’s when you’ll see me in the Caribbean. And they talk about LaVar bow out. I mean, I’m a bow out and be a satellite.”
What’s the next move for Lonzo and the Big Baller Brand?
LB: “It will be him training and getting ready for Summer League. He hasn’t played ball in a while. He’s going to be ready to let loose on Summer League and go from there. He’ll be having on-the-job training.
“Here’s the thing with Lonzo, no pressure on him because I always told him this is entertainment, all he has to do is take care of what he does on the court. Have fun. Something he’s been doing all his life.
“He doesn’t have to worry about, does he have money? Did I take the money from him? Did I make the brand grow? He thought he had $10 million in the bank and he only got $2 million. That’s what he don’t have to worry about, so it takes a lot off his head. You do your thing on the court, and we’ll handle everything off the court. Without killing him like an agent or manager would do because they’re making all these side deals with hidden agendas.”
Just want to get this straight one more time. Lonzo is only working out for the Lakers? That’s the only team?
LB: “Yes. We ready to come and be a Laker.”
Have you talked to the Lakers about Lonzo yet?
LB: “I ain’t talked to nobody. I haven’t talked to anybody, but I’m just saying, I’m at a car lot, and I’m looking for a Corvette, and I find a Corvette. But then they say, ‘Hey, come to these other car lots. We got Rangers and Rolls Royces.’ I’m like, ‘Okay, even though they nice. Why would I even go over there if I found what I want?’
“So I’m not working out for no other teams. We just need to work out for the Lakers. Let them know how healthy and strong he is and be ready to go for the Lakers. It’s all lined up for that. We don’t want to be working out for two or three other teams.
“We landed in the right spot. Boston landed in they right spot. They should get the Markelle Fultz, who can score the ball and do they thing. They already got a point guard. They’re already stacked with that. They don’t need my son. He don’t live on the East Coast. It makes sense that anyone that comes to the Lakers is not going to be that drawcard like Lonzo. Lonzo is that special. He’s sold out every place he’s gone. From high school to college, and guess what, the Lakers Nation is coming back to watch the Ball era.
“If everything go my way, my other son will be one-and-done. And guess what, put him in the draft, hope nobody takes him and the Lakers get him as a free agent. And then I do that two times in a row, and the Ball boys are reunited. Then more than five or six championships in a row with the Ball boys. Welcome to the NBA!”
What was your initial reaction to hearing the Lakers would be drafting at No. 2?
LB: “Our initial reaction was, ‘And you know this, man!’ That was our initial reaction. We know what’s going on. We was all sitting on full stomachs. I made everybody dinner. You’ll be full when you look back and say, ‘Oh, they got the second pick! The Lakers!’ Stuff is lined up, man.
“I told my son that. Everything is lined up. We’re just so lucky. So blessed. It’s fun. We just look at it the right way, and we go about our business. It’s going to be fun.”