Lonzo Ball: The Brand

Justin Malone

Lonzo Ball: The Brand

“With the second pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select Lonzo Ball from UCLA!”

The 2017 NBA Draft class has been touted as one of the best classes in recent years. With many teams having a new look due to players either switching teams or ‘trusting the process’, this rookie class adds to the hoopla and excitement surrounding the NBA. As the NFL goes through its fair share of implosions, the NBA is in the perfect position to propel its brand to new heights and generate some newfound energy. Dedicated fans are tuning in to see if a team has what it takes to compete and dethrone the Golden State Warriors. Others may be watching just to pass time but one thing is true of most people: they have heard of Lonzo Ball.

So who is Lonzo Ball? Lonzo Ball is a rookie point guard from Chino Hills, California who plays for the storied Los Angeles Lakers franchise. The first team All-American played for one season at UCLA in which he led his team to a 31-5 record (a 16 win improvement from the previous year). Ball cannot be fully credited for the improvement in the team’s performance but he can be credited as a major contributor to its success. Already known by some for blazing the court in high school with his two younger brothers, Lonzo Ball added to his natural marketability by showcasing his play at the college level. But what separates Lonzo Ball from the other rookies and many of his predecessors? There are always rookies that build anticipation and excitement for franchises and fans alike; however, they do not have Lavar Ball in their corner.

Lavar Ball is Lonzo’s father who is best known for his braggadocious antics surrounding his sons. Once Lonzo hit the court at UCLA, his father Lavar began talking…A LOT. He started the NCAA season saying that Lonzo would lead the UCLA Bruins to a National Championship. This sounds like a supportive father who wishes the best for his son but this was just the beginning. As UCLA continued to win games led by the play of Lonzo, Lavar made big statements such as saying his son is better than the reigning NBA champion, Steph Curry. Statements such as this paired with the success Lonzo was having with UCLA helped propel the then college freshmen to the forefront of conversations surrounding basketball altogether at times. Some people believe Lavar is out of his mind for  “writing checks he can’t cash.” Others look at him as a supportive father that truly believes in his children’s abilities and want to see the best for them. Whether you are for or against the Lavar media machine, he caught the eyes and ears of many. It could be said that Lavar hacked the system by being a mouthpiece for Lonzo in order to elevate his son’s brand.

Lonzo Ball was already touted as a top pick before his father took over the show but his brand wouldn’t be as big as it is without Lavar. It was Lavar who was dreaming of the Ball empire before he had his sons. Lonzo is just the start. Following his last game in a UCLA uniform, Lonzo and his family launched Big Baller Brand (BBB), an independent shoe and apparel company with the mission of being a clothing line that is a reflection of what every Big Baller in the world expresses through what they wear. Lonzo and his father leveraged the media attention garnered by Lavar and used it as an opportunity to promote the brand for free on national television. They hacked media by taking interviews with sports journalists and wearing the brand’s apparel at most of the interviews. Before he hit the court as a NBA player, Lonzo and the Big Baller Brand released his first shoe the ZO2s at the hefty price of $495. This pricing in of itself is a talking point and it was. People took to social media to discuss the shoes and its price. Lonzo’s name was and still has been in the headlines due to the amount of chatter he and his family have stirred up. This is abnormal for a rookie but Lonzo isn’t just any rookie. He’s one with a brand.

“A brand is one of the biggest things you can have.” This is a quote by Lavar from an interview with USA Today. A brand is bigger than just one’s self. It can be a representation of something bigger. If nurtured properly, a brand can outlive the person who built it. Think Steve Jobs with Apple. No, I’m not comparing Lonzo to Steve Jobs but he and his family have full autonomy to build the brand the way they want. He doesn’t have to follow a shoe company’s contract; instead, he gets to authentically be himself. In summer league action, there was a big fuss whenever Lonzo wore shoes that weren’t the ZO2s. It was so highly discussed that ESPN kept track of the number of points Lonzo scored in his shoe versus other brands. This was unheard of before Lonzo Ball. Speaking of things being unheard of, the anticipation and excitement Lonzo and Lavar built was so great that some of the summer league games he played in were sold out. Summer League!

Lonzo’s appeal and marketability continued to spread following summer league play. The Ball family helped Facebook expand into original programming as they nabbed their own reality tv show, Ball in the Family. The show follows the family’s life as the three brothers are in different stages in their lives. This show is just another opportunity for Lonzo and his family to propel the brand while providing another way for people to satisfy their Ball Family attention itch. Opportunities such as this gives them numerous chances to catch people’s attention and become loveable to the mass media. This isn’t a new concept. At a high-level, it is similar to the Kardashian craze. The idea is building a brand that allows you to be you. If Kim wants to launch a business that fits her brand, she can. Lavar wants his sons to be able to do the same with their endeavors. In fact, Lonzo also raps and has been releasing music as Zo. This is a testament to their forward thinking and the world has taken notice of the Balls including the NBA. In advertisements and highlight clips, he has been pushed to the front. What player drafted #2 has had this much attention entering their rookie season?

Lonzo Ball has been able to do his talking on the court leading up to this season. Currently, he has been having his fair share of problems adjusting to the league with a shooting percentage of about 30%. It’s still early so we don’t know if everything will work out and he’ll be a big baller in the NBA or if he’s going to be a bust. Whichever happens, the fact stands that Lonzo has the attention of the masses and that’s the doing of his brand. With the help of his father and family, Lonzo Ball has the opportunity to become a notable face in pop culture and extend his influence pass the hardwood and sports altogether.

 

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Lonzo Ball: The Brand