Granted Lavar Ball has been the quietest he’s been since Lonzo was a junior in high school but make no mistake about it, he’s making as much noise as ever. While it’s being said that the arrival of a particular player has forced Ball into hiding, that can’t be further from the truth. And if people are being honest with themselves, they would realize they can’t get enough of him. When he’s loud, they tell him to be quiet. Now that he’s quiet, people are asking why he’s not being loud. Lavar’s handprints are all over basketball right now and one day we will look up and he could be perched atop the hoops world.
If we take a close look at what’s been going on you’ll see that a lot of it has been BBB inspired. First and foremost, this new G League incentive looks awfully familiar. Of course the idea itself is a counter measure to the FBI corruption scandal with the NCAA but the model basically mirrors the JBA. It’s not a coincidence that this came about immediately after the JBA was formed. Lavar gave them the blueprint and they executed it. Lavar made it publicly acceptable to work around the “One and done” rule without having to go overseas. Of course since he did it, it’s radical and foolish and these kids are making a bad decision if they decide to participate. Now the G League has implemented a similar method that won’t even benefit its intended demographic. Top recruits are not bypassing a year at a top university for a minor league internship. But again, we are seeing the residuals of the Ball effect.
We are also seeing some different approaches in regards to the business of basketball. What Lavar did with the ZO2 was revolutionary and while we haven’t seen that duplicated yet, we have seen some athletes go off the beaten path in terms of endorsements and apparel deals. What the BBB move showed us is that athletes are the commodity and not the product. Look at Kuzma’s GOAT deal. While Kuzma is a Nike athlete and will only be fitted with shoes from the brand from the online sneaker retailer, this is still an innovative move that benefits Kuz and brings him some shine as well. I’m sure there are dozens of NBA players signed to Nike that most of the general public isn’t even aware of. With this type of endorsement, Kuzma garners himself some exclusivity and gives him a chance to stand out. Should his stellar play continue to improve, by the time he is a sneaker free agent he will have much more leverage as he will be seen as an individual rather than a cog in the Nike machine. To be perfectly honest, if your name is LeBron, KD or Kyrie nobody cares that it’s your shoe. They only care that a swoosh is on it. Imagine if a player with a personality and presence as big as Joel Embiid decided to branch off on his own instead of signing with a big box company like Under Armour. Now instead of completely cashing in on his persona, he is taking his marketability and bravado to the UA camp. But at the very least, a stranglehold is being released on the tennis shoe market. The recent sweep of athletes signing to Puma is telling as well. They have an appeal as well since they are backed by RocNation and Jay Z. The fact that they were able to snag 4 of the top 20 picks from this years NBA Draft in a sport typically dominated by Nike is telling. More residuals of the Ball effect. People aren’t afraid to go against the grain anymore.
Despite what people may say, Lavar has a presence in the basketball community at the highest level. Haven’t heard a peep from him in weeks and he’s still the topic of conversation. Don’t mistake his silence for inactivity. I am sure he’s cooking up his next move. And if you have been paying attention you know that it’s going to be major.