LaVar Ball: The secret genius who embraces the hate

Mar 4, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Lavar Ball, father of UCLA Bruins guard Lonzo Ball (2), looks on in the stands before the game between the UCLA Bruins and the Washington State Cougars at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 4, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Lavar Ball, father of UCLA Bruins guard Lonzo Ball (2), looks on in the stands before the game between the UCLA Bruins and the Washington State Cougars at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports /

Many people think LaVar Ball is crazy for attempting what he’s trying to do with his Big Baller Brand, while others think he’s crazy for what he says. However, through all the perceived insanity, there may actually be a genius

It’s strange thing, but for whatever reason fans have always rooted for the underdogs. That doesn’t pertain to just sports either, we generally tend to pull for unions as opposed to corporations. We love the rebellion and despise the empire (hopefully). It’s just one of those unwritten things. That’s what makes Big Baller Brand’s view amongst the general public so odd.

Seemingly everyone is hoping for its failure, and those who do point the finger at LaVar Ball.

In its own way, it’s quite fascinating to see how the public receives LaVar. As far as what he’s says about his son Lonzo, it’s no different from what any other parent would say if they were given such a platform. What he said about himself being able to beat Michael Jordan one-on-one in his “heyday” back in March, that’s no different from that one uncle at your family’s cook-out who “coulda’ tore it up in the league, if it weren’t for my Achilles.”

More from Sir Charles In Charge

Those topics are completely harmless, yet seem to cause some sort of apocalyptic uproar on social media.

His family’s brand, on the other hand, is meant to cause harm. Not to us as fans, but to big corporations. He’s challenging the established order yet, for some reason, we aren’t able to appreciate what he’s trying to do.

Without even playing in an NBA game, his oldest son already has a signature shoe. Because of the brand LaVar has created, his entire family has the ability to create and design their own apparel to wear with the family’s logo on it. To make things better, they receive all of the profits; there are no endorsement deals, and no middle-men. Just the family.

All of this is possible due to the athletes who came before Lonzo.

This path is unpaved, but not unprepared

On a recent panel with Fox Sports 1’s Undisputed, Shannon Sharpe addressed the price of Big Baller Brand’s ZO2 to LaVar Ball saying:

"“Michael Jordan couldn’t command ($495) for shoes.”LaVar then responded, “Because (Michael Jordan) ain’t Lonzo Ball, that’s why. Did he have his own brand coming in? It’s a new era called the Ball era.”"

LaVar is right, MJ isn’t Lonzo and Lonzo isn’t MJ. While their paths to building their own brand are similar in difficulty, they are extraordinarily different. The difference being that what the Ball family is trying to do wouldn’t be possible had it not been for MJ. The same goes for the work put in by Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Shaq or anyone else who’s had their own signature sneaker. Without the advances they made, LaVar and Lonzo wouldn’t be able to succeed by creating their own brand before Lonzo’s career even starts.

Though that sentiment may appear to have been lost by LaVar Ball, you can rest assured knowing that he knows exactly what he’s doing. He just wants the sneaker game to advance faster than its willing to right now.

Sneaker endorsements have taken gradual progressions through the years. They went from athletes only having deals to wear brands’ shoes on the floor, to signature colorways, then to signature shoes, which led us to certain players having control of their own brands while under the umbrella of a larger company. It’s been a slow, yet still progressive shift in favor of the athletes. (Now, I don’t know about you, but I happen to think that’s a good thing.) But what Big Baller Brand is trying to do accelerates that tremendously.

Which brings us to the unveiling of the ZO2.

When the ZO2 was unveiled by Big Baller Brand last week, it was met with fairly poor reactions. As previously mentioned, the price of the shoe is quite high for a signature shoe from any brand, much less a start-up. (There’s also the issue of design infringement, which you can read more about right here.) Ball’s appearance on “Undisputed” wasn’t the first time he’s talked about the price of the shoe.

In an interview on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, Ball said the shoe’s price was set at $495 because…

"he “figured that’s what the shoe is worth.”"

LaVar’s ability to name the price of Lonzo’s shoe is a luxury that no other player has. It’s actually pretty absurd when you think about it. This kid, who isn’t even in the NBA yet, is able to do things sure-shot hall of famers can’t. LaVar Ball is attempting to throw a wrench in the system, and that should intrigue people, not anger them. Especially considering the potential profit margins the ZO2 can net, all of which will go directly to Lonzo.

Live Feed

Washington Wizards: Can Poole or Kuzma make the All-Star game next season?
Washington Wizards: Can Poole or Kuzma make the All-Star game next season? /

Wiz of Awes

  • Will the Charlotte Hornets be in the 2024 NBA Draft Lottery?Swarm and Sting
  • NBA Center Tier List: Where does Zach Collins rank?Air Alamo
  • Why Team USA's World Cup failure will lead to a new Dream Team in 2024Hoops Habit
  • Battle For Banner 18: Will Boston Celtics battle historical foe in 2024 Finals?Hardwood Houdini
  • The "what if" moment that changed every NBA team foreverHoops Habit
  • The genius in it all

    Big Baller Brand is manufacturing every pair of the ZO2 on a made-to-order basis, which eliminates any opportunity of a net loss at production. Then there’s the fact that they didn’t have to spend a single penny to market the shoe given that news of its unveiling spread on social media faster than a Mike D’Antoni-style offense.

    As far as overall profits are concerned, the only question that remains is how much it costs to actually manufacture the shoe. Even still, the amount of money they can net per unit is absurdly high.

    Let’s just say it costs BBB $90 to produce each unit, which is $14 higher than it costs adidas to produce a pair of the Yeezy 750 BOOST (per (That’s just a rough estimate given BBB has likely partnered with someone outside of the sneaker industry, so it’s probably not going to be very cheap to produce.) Then, assuming the ZO2 is manufactured on foreign soil, we have to factor in its landed cost. (That’s the cost of shipping, insurance and customs duties.) If they’re made in Asia, the going rate on the shoe is likely to be at around $24.30, though that may change per specific country. That brings the total cost to around $114.30.

    Outside of taxes, those are literally their only losses. They won’t have to sell their shoes at a lowered price in order to distribute to retailers, because their sales are completely online. The ZO2 is made-to-order, so they’ll never go on sale. There’s little to no staff to pay with their profits. BBB doesn’t have to worry about any other endorsement deals, because it’s just Lonzo right now. All-in-all, Big Baller Brand is looking at up to $350 in true profits per shoe.

    For perspective, per $100 shoe adidas averages $2.00 in profits, while Nike averages $5.00 (per So, what LaVar Ball is doing for his son Lonzo is flat-out absurd.

    The only problem Big Baller Brand currently has is their inability to sell units. According to Nice Kicks, only 263 pairs of the ZO2 were sold within the first 24 hours of their unveiling. Unfortunately for BBB sales haven’t really skyrocketed since then, which begs the question: should the retail price of the ZO2 be lowered?

    That’s really tough to answer from an outside perspective, especially from someone like myself. But there’s a legitimate argument that they could make more money if they were to lower its price. It isn’t just the $495 price that’s deterred consumers, but LaVar’s attitude has as well.

    Must Read: Five Potential Landing Spots For Blake Griffin In Free Agency

    When LaVar tweets things like, “If you can’t afford the ZO2’S, you’re NOT a BIG BALLER!” It kind of rubs people the wrong way. That could very well be his goal, to eliminate the customers he doesn’t want buying his shoes. But if his goal is to make more money and build this brand to its maximum potential, then he may want to lower the price a little. (Trust me, they can afford it.)

    Then again, LaVar Ball has gotten this brand this far, farther than any other start-up brand. Why not trust him to see if he can take it a little further.