LaVar Ball attends week eight of the BIG3 three on three basketball league at Staples Center on August 13, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Sean M. Haffey (BIG3 for Getty Images)
Once upon a 2017, Big Baller Brand was primed to become the next big thing.
It had popular sports figures and celebrities like Nipsey Hussle, The Game, and Fox Sports 1’s Shannon Sharpe tripping over themselves to sing its praises; it had infiltrated the vaulted status of the NBA courtesy of its signature ZO2 sneaker, and even Jay-Z drank the Kool-Aid, telling Rap Radar’s Elliot Wilson, “[Big Baller Brand founder LaVar Ball] may go about things wrong, he may have a big mouth […] but I bought three pairs. I didn’t get them, but that man has a vision of his own.”
Sure, Big Baller Brand maestro LaVar Ball definitely has “a vision of his own,” but it’s been anything but 20/20 since his rapid ascent into the public eye in 2017, and has long been seeped in failure.
Prior to LeBron James’ failed revival of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018, Ball’s trademark growl and brash demeanor assailed every radio station and television network in his path. His outlandish proclamations and viral rampages dominated sports segments, cementing his status as America’s favorite train wreck not named Donald Trump.
But after touting himself as “uncontrollable,” Ball’s boisterous reign met its unceremonious end on July 1, 2018—the same day LeBron and his ego arrived in town and rendered Ball’s son Lonzo—then LeBron’s brand new teammate—obsolete. And an endless succession of snafus that have spelled Big Baller Brand’s doom ever since.
There were poorly veiled shots at LeBron; anemic sales coupled with unethical business practices; Lonzo’s career derailed by ankle injuries that were rumored to be caused by his own signature sneakers; and the Better Business Bureau coming for Big Baller Brand’s neck. LaVar Ball was reportedly banished from ESPN after making inappropriate comments towards one its most popular hosts, and most importantly, there was a whole ass scandal in which co-founder Alan Foster was accused of stealing $1.5 million from the brand’s biggest draw—Lonzo, who responded by removing his Big Baller Brand tattoo and defecting to a sneaker brand actually worth a shit—Nike.
Which brings us to Wednesday’s news that the brand, clearly in the direst of straits, might be on its last legs, according to Yahoo. In a past life, you could cop BBB shirts for $50 and their signature ZO2 sneakers for the low low price of $495, but those days are firmly entrenched in the rear mirror.
L.A. Sports radio, a Twitter account dedicated to the L.A. sports radio scene, spotted a Big Baller Brand booth at a local volleyball tournament over the weekend. The company appears to be in everything-must-go mode.
I love a good clearance sale as much as anyone else, but this is brutal to witness. For $5, you can cop a hat or a T-shirt. For $15? You can take home a hoodie. And if you’re big ballin’ like the brand, $100 will nab you a pair of sneakers, a hoodie, a t-shirt, and a pair of socks.
Damn, LaVar. What happened?
“Our vision is wide open, but we’ve been doing the same thing everybody else who has a vision has been doing,” he told The Breakfast Club during his 2017 heyday. “We’re just different.”
It’s just too bad his much-ballyhooed vision was so short-sighted.