Tag Archives: Lavar Ball

The LaVar Ball Problem

LaVar Ball is known to say and do outlandish things.

I don’t need to list them because his media presence is pervasive to the point overkill, but I will for the sake of highlighting it all in one spot:

  1. He’s called out Kyrie Irving for not having a mother (she died when he was 4).
  2. He’s maligned and threatened a female reporter (on national TV).
  3. He’s maligned a sports journalist for his weight (on national TV).
  4. He’s begun the marketing campaign for a $500 shoe for an unproven rookie while simultaneously insulting 95% of the market by saying “If you can’t afford it, we don’t want you; you’re obviously not a big baller” (paraphrased).

Continue reading The LaVar Ball Problem

Big Baller Brand Isn’t a Big Baller

LaVar Ball is offering the debut basketball shoe for Big Baller Brand for the price of $495. If you want a pair signed by his son, Lonzo, those will cost you $995. I’ll come right out and say it. LaVar doesn’t understand how this stuff works. There’s market value and then there is intrinsic value. Both are important components in pricing an item and that is what seems to have escaped the mind of LaVar.

After introducing the shoe and its price, LaVar, as has often been the case, found himself subjected to harsh criticism. The question on most everyone’s minds was how could he charge $495 for a shoe from a relatively unknown brand? In LaVar’s mind, that was an easy question to answer.

“I figure that’s what the shoe is worth,” Ball said. “When you are your own owner you can come up with any price you want.”

LaVar isn’t wrong when making either of those two statements. When you’re the owner of a company, you can charge whatever price you want for your product. And I can’t deny his belief that $495 is what his product is worth. However, there is (usually) a little bit of math involved when setting the price for a product. I anticipate a market correction for the price of the Big Baller Brand shoe. And it there’s not, his company will soon be a distant memory.

Intrinsically speaking, LaVar believes that he’s set an accurate price. His belief, based on little to no market research, is that Big Baller Brand has already surpassed Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas. Based on 2015 estimates, the brand value of Nike is $15.9 billion, Adidas’ is at $6.2 billion, and Under Armour’s is at $5 billion. Sure, LaVar, the intrinsic value of Big Baller Brand is better than these established competitors that you mocked.

LaVar also mocked Foot Locker while ridiculing Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas. However, using Foot Locker as a gauge of market value for basketball shoes, it’s seen that the most expensive basketball shoe for Nike is $365.99, Under Armour’s most expensive shoe is $149.99, and Adidas’ priciest basketball shoe is $159.99. Based on the price point for the shoe, LaVar sees his product as a boutique shoe and that’s why he scoffed at the idea of selling Big Baller Brand at Foot Locker. But he also considers the Big Baller Shoe to be a legitimate basketball shoe so using Foot Locker as a measure of market value is accurate.

And then there is LaVar’s marketing message.

LaVar isn’t wrong. Every product isn’t for everyone. But Big Baller Brand isn’t even a big baller. As Ric Flair says, “To be the man, you have to beat the man.” Right now, “The Man” is Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas. LaVar at least needs to turn a single dollar of profit before running his mouth.

Big Baller Brand has a huge social media presence thanks to LaVar always having a statement to make about his fledgling business. Some love LaVar while others, such as myself, find him to be a loud-mouthed ringmaster for himself. But whether the publicity is good, bad, or indifferent, any press is good press.  Will it be enough to generate a profit for his $495 debut shoes? Time will tell but I’m not writing off Nike, Under Armour, or Adidas just yet.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Pixabay

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What Mizzou Assistant Coach Michael Porter Sr. is All About – Family Values and Humility

At this point, we’re all aware of LaVar Ball. He makes outlandish guarantees (how’d that 2017 UCLA national championship work out, buddy?) to go along with outlandish demands. Among his demands is the asking price for the shoe deal he believes his sons deserve. Or is it the asking price he believes he deserves?

[Merenbloom: LaVar Ball Lives Through His Protege Son Lonzo Ball]

Ball does have a small group of supporters. The narrative goes something like this – LaVar is a proud dad who wants nothing but the best for his sons. What dad wouldn’t and shouldn’t act like LaVar as a child’s dreams are being supported?

It’s now time for a comparison of fathers. Let’s discuss Missouri assistant coach Michael Porter Sr. and his son Michael Porter Jr.

Porter Jr. is the No. 1 ranked recruit in the 2017 class. He had originally committed to play for Lorenzo Romar and the Washington Huskies. And then Romar was fired. Porter Jr. reopened his recruitment and he’s now headed to Missouri.

And for this, Porter Sr. is considered to be worse than Ball. How did we get to this point? Glad you asked.

Porter Sr. is married to Lisa Becker. That is important because that makes Robin Pingeton Porter Sr.’s sister-in-law. Pingeton is the head coach of the women’s basketball team at Missouri.

Pingeton had hired Porter Sr. to be one of her Director of Basketball Operations and eventually promoted him to assistant coach. He had played college ball, toured with Athletes In Action, and coached at the AAU level. So this wasn’t like hiring some guy off the street. And, sure, it helped that Pingeton is Porter Sr.’s sister-in-law. But none-the-less, Porter Sr. was qualified to be an assistant.

Porter Sr. spent six seasons at Missouri before accepting a job with Romar at Washington. Make no mistake, Romar’s hiring of Porter Sr. was about much more than Porter Jr.

Romar and Porter Sr. go a long way back. Romar was a player-coach on the Athletes In Action team that Porter Sr. had played on in the early 1990s. Porter Sr. credits Romar for turning his life around. In short, Romar was the mentor who influenced Porter Sr. to grow up and become an adult.

“I mean, I was at a crossroads, and they took me in and let me live with them,” Porter said. “I saw a stable family. I saw a man who was committed to his family, and those were just examples that I needed to see up close and personal at that point in my life.”

Asked to expand upon that crossroads, Porter replied: “Just the kind of guy I was. Lorenzo was one of the first guys to tell me the truth about myself. ‘Porter, man, you’ve always got an excuse for why you don’t do what you’re supposed to do. You’ve always got an excuse for why you’re late.’ Stuff like that.

Family. Responsibility. Accountability. Those are the things that Porter Sr. learned to value and to embrace while living with the Romar’s.
During his time spent with Romar, Porter Sr. expressed a desire to be a coach. Romar told him to go out and gain some experience and he would consider hiring Porter Sr. after he had built a coaching resume. True to form, Porter Sr. acted on Romar’s advice. And true to form, when the opportunity presented itself and the timing was right for all parties, Romar offered Porter Sr. a job as one of his assistants and Porter Sr. accepted the offer.
Porter Sr. just as easily could have transitioned from Pingeton’s bench to Kim Anderson’s bench. It’s all based on rumors and speculation, but Anderson either declined to offer Porter Sr. an opportunity to coach on the men’s side or Porter Sr. wanted nothing to do with coaching for Anderson. Either way, Porter Sr. had his opportunity and off to Washington he went.
Porter Sr. has two daughters who play for their aunt at Missouri; Bri and Cierra. The family also had spent six years in Columbia. With the family roots that had been established, Columbia was home. So when Porter Jr. committed to Missouri by saying, “I’m coming home,” he was being sincere. Not only was he being sincere, the entire family was being sincere.
Yes, it’s true, Porter Jr. wouldn’t be headed to Missouri if his father wouldn’t have been hired by Cuonzo Martin. But let’s be honest. Recruiting is like sales. It’s about relationships and who you know. That doesn’t mean rules were broken or that Porter Sr. is “getting rich” off of his son. Porter Sr. is chasing his dream just as Porter Jr. and the rest of the Porters are chasing their dreams. It’s important to draw the distinction that each member of this family have their own dreams that are independent of each other.
Ball has groomed his kids to be basketball players since before they were born. He’s not only supported them but he’s branded his kids along with the entire family. That branding, which he intends to turn into $1 billion, is on the backs of his children. Ball’s intent is to become a billionaire off of his kid’s talent.
Now compare Ball’s comments to Porter Sr’s comments.

“I tell my kids all the time, I couldn’t care less if they played basketball, and I mean that from my heart,” Michael Sr. said. “I love that they play, because Lisa and I played and we love this game, but we are way more concerned about the people they become than being great basketball players.

“We talk a lot about, in your own mind, understanding there’s a distinction. Basketball’s what you do. It’s not who you are. Who you are is a human being. Love people, and treat them incredibly well. Those are the things that we value.”

Ball values $1 billion shoe deals. Ball has always defined his children by what they do; playing basketball. The Porters, on the other hand, have taught their children that there’s a distinction between what they do and who they are. Family values don’t come with a balance sheet or profit margin. At least not for the Porters.

I would also argue that the family values that the Porters have instilled in their children include humility.

Porter Sr. played college basketball but wasn’t a superstar. He went on to play for Athletes In Action and then called it a career as far as playing was concerned. He never created his own myth. He never claimed to be able to beat Michael Jordan one-one-on. Instead of inflating his own ego, Porter Sr. accepted his reality and set out to figure out his place in the world.

He wanted to coach so he volunteered with Romar back in the early 1990s and eventually earned spots coaching on the AAU circuit as well as Pingeton’s coaching staff. Porter Sr. even spent time as a Christian hip-hop artist touring under the name, Rahlo. Humility. Porter Sr. has always accepted the reality of his situation and made the most of it.

When critics of Porter Sr. claim he’s worse than Ball and that Porter Sr. is the father who is truly getting rich off of his superstar child, I can’t help but jump to his defense. It’s difficult to believe that Porter Sr. is living vicariously through his kids after examining his life. Porter Sr. has never been a person who chased the spotlight. He’s a person who has chased happiness through strong family values and humility.

No. Porter Sr. is nothing like Ball.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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LaVar Ball Lives Through his Protege Son Lonzo Ball

UCLA freshman Lonzo Ball has helped lead the Bruins back to the top of college basketball. The Bruins are a 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament and that is in large part to Ball having averaged 14.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game. The youngster from Anaheim, CA has been so impressive during his debut season that he is already considered to be the 2nd best prospect leading up to the NBA draft.

Considering all the success that Ball has had and is expected to have in the future, it’s easy to see why his parents would be exceptionally proud of their oldest son. But even so, his father, LaVar Ball, may be going overboard. Scratch that. LaVar Ball is going overboard in his adulation for his son.

LaVar’s over-the-top, braggadocios praise of his son started earlier this season. The elder Ball offered this comparison of his son to the NBA’s reigning back-to-back MVP winner, Steph Curry:

“I have the utmost confidence in what my boy is doing. He’s better than Steph Curry to me. Put Steph Curry on UCLA’s team right now and put my boy on Golden State and watch what happens.”

LaVar considers Lonzo to be better than Curry right now. Not in the future. Right now.

Since LaVar believes that UCLA is being led by a freshman who is better than Curry now, it is easy to understand LaVar’s NCAA Tournament guarantee. UCLA will win the National Championship. It’s as if it’s a stone cold Vegas lock from Brent Musberger himself.

Want more? Oh, there’s more.

LaVar, the Fountain of Spout himself, has told the world that Lonzo will find the NBA game to be even easier than the college game.

“It is going to get easier for Lonzo as we go,” LaVar said. “When he gets to the pro’s, the game is even faster and that’s when he’s at his best. You trade in Bryce [Alford] for D-Wade, [Isaac] Hamilton for [Andre] Iguodala, get away from TJ Leaf and give him Anthony Davis.”

Look at that. He even managed to throw Lonzo’s current teammates under the bus. But remember, Lonzo is so phenomenal that he will elevate UCLA to a guaranteed national championship. His teammates must feel like the luckiest supporting cast on the face of the Earth. I guess Lonzo is Vincent Chase while the rest of the team are a bunch of Johnny Dramas.

LaVar is already branding his son. There’s family friend Darren Moore who is paid to essentially babysit Lonzo. There’s the hand selected paparazzi that snaps pictures and takes video of Ball and his boys for a potential reality show. And there is also Alan Foster who is already working on a basketball shoe for Lonzo.

Speaking of that signature basketball shoe, LaVar has already set the asking price of Lonzo’s shoe deal at $1 billion. But based on LaVar’s rhetoric, I’m not sure who this budding shoe deal is really for. LaVar or Lonzo?

“A billion dollars, it has to be there,” Ball told USATODAY. “That’s our number, a billion, straight out of the gate. And you don’t even have to give it to me all up front. Give us $100 mil over 10 years.”

If you thought dance moms were bad, LaVar tops them all. Before he was married, he set out to have his own set of “Ball boys.” You see? LaVar’s goal in life seems to have always been to live vicariously through his sons.

LaVar did play college basketball. He played for Kelvin Sampson at Washington State. LaVar claims that Michael Jordon wouldn’t have stood a chance against him in a game of 1-on-1. Never mind that LaVar averaged all of 2.2 points per game for the Cougars.

LaVar and Lonzo are going down the same road that Marv Marinovich took his son, Todd. Todd was a hotshot quarterback recruit from San Leandro, CA and he chose to stay close to home and play for USC. Like Lonzo, Marinovich had been groomed by his father to be a star athlete since before he was born. Marinovich’s life didn’t turn out the way his father had planned.

Being a proud parent is only natural. Being an overbearing parent who lives through their child can ultimately lead to a detrimental upbringing and even worse adulthood.

LaVar was never going to beat Jordan. As for Lonzo being better than Steph Curry right now? LaVar needs to give his son support while allowing him the space needed to mature on his own. That is all any child needs. And if that leads to a National Championship for the Bruins and multiple NBA MVP awards for Lonzo? So be it.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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