Big Baller Brand is back on the attack, this time without the participation of Lonzo Ball or his younger, NBA-bound brother Melo Ball. Nearly a year after shutting down its website, BBB announced its relaunch with 48 new products, according to a news release.
Big Baller Brand apparel for men, women, and children includes shirts, sweatshirts, shoes, and hats.
“The Big Baller Brand is BACK and better than ever! Over the past year, my team and I have been working diligently to expand Big Baller Brand and improve the overall customer experience,” Big Baller Brand CEO LaVar Ball said in a statement. “We are thrilled to announce the launch of our new website BigBallerBrandInc.com. I want to thank our loyal fans for patiently waiting for the relaunch and continuing to grow with our family!”
After a nine-month hiatus in the aftermath of a money-laundering scandal, Big Baller Brand tested the waters of its re-brand in December 2019, with its first pop up shop in Australia. The brand had a blowout sale at a local volleyball tournament.
During an interview on The Daily Telegraph Sport’s “The Big Chat,” LaVar explained:
“Usually, we would go and start this off in L.A. somewhere but I said, ‘You know what? Let’s start changing! Let’s go out to the land down under, Australia, and start.’ We’re the first ones to re-launch the triple B brand and guess what? This is the best place to do it.”
One thing LaVar has taught us is that he’s not a quitter and he dreams big. He said all of his sons would be lottery picks in the NBA. Lonzo did it and Melo seems to be on his way as a Top 5 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
He wanted Big Baller Brand to ride the waves of his son’s athletic and social media success all the way to building an empire to rival Nike and Adidas. Everything LaVar did, hit different. Most of it worked.
However, the high costs of the sneakers, complaints of poor quality and shipping delays proved problematic for the brand.
The company introduced footwear, announcing that the face of the new ZO2 sneaker would be LaVar’s oldest son, Lonzo. The shoes were listed at $495 and $995, the latter being autographed and enclosed in a glass, LED lined case.
And while their popularity remained high thanks to the family’s Facebook show Ball In The Family — Lonzo’s unimpressive rookie season with the Lakers and subsequent trade to the Pelicans in the Anthony Davis deal, Melo leaving HS to ball overseas and LiAngelo’s embarrassing shoplifting incident in China –dulled the appeal of the brand.
Then, when Lonzo’s mom got sick, a family friend named Alan Foster took over the business dealings and embezzled millions of dollars from BBB and Lonzo. That was the final straw as far as Lonzo wanting anything to do with the brand and it also strained his relationship with LaVar.
According to ESPN, approximately $1.5 million from Ball’s personal and business accounts can’t be “adequately accounted for”. In response, Ball stated Foster has “used his access to my business and personal finances to enrich himself. As a result, I have decided to sever all ties with Alan, effective immediately.”
Foster is a longtime family friend who became close when Lonzo and his son became friends in seventh grade. Foster, who owned 16.3% of BBB, served as business manager for all of the Ball family’s companies per ESPN. It was he who urged LaVar, according to LaVar, to create the BBB company and sign his son instead of going to the more established companies like Nike, Adidas or Under Armour.
Big Baller Brand shut down its website in April shortly after Ball fired Foster.
The world saw the drama play out on Facebook each week.
LaVar asked Lonzo to be a part of the new BBB, but Lonzo wasn’t with it. Melo is in Greece balling, handling his business and moving up NBA Draft boards.
Which leaves LaVar and LiAngelo to make the re-brand work. Gelo missed the NBA Summer League due to undergoing surgery on his ankle. His last truly competitive basketball game came on Nov. 1, 2017 in an exhibition game for UCLA, so by the time his ankle heels, he’d have missed almost three years of competitive hoops. His NBA chances are becoming more unlikely.
Maybe Gelo will find his niche in business and reviving BBB is something he can cultivate a career with. It’s not like he doesn’t have social media popularity. Gelo has 2.4 million IG followers despite the fact that he isn’t hooping right now.
Each member of that family is a brand unto himself.
Lavar always intended to use basketball as an outlet to bigger and better opportunities for his boys. It brought them the recognition, following and branding power needed to market themselves without relying on an institution, corporate conglomerate, business or board, to get their cheddar.
Win or lose, LaVar’s sons are living their dreams and BBB is LaVar’s personal puppy (Gelo’s too). Maybe they can make it work this time around. And maybe…eventually Zo and Melo will re-align themselves with the brand. For now, they have NBA futures to invest in.