I spoke with someone on the condition of anonymity that says LaMelo Ball, younger brother of New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo, has been offered north of $100 million dollars and access to a private Jet by a major sneaker company.
The word on the street and around the basketball world is that there is a major bidding war ensuing between Nike, Reebok, Puma, Adidas, Converse, Jordan Brand and the Chinese sneaker company Anta which has a host of NBA players including Dwyane Wade, CJ McCollum and Klay Thompson on its roster.
Melo Ball has been projected as a Top 3 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft based on his skill set.
As far as celebrity power and branding goes, Melo is already a celebrity with a following to rival LeBron James and Zion Williamson when they were preparing for the NBA. Maybe not in hype, but social media has boosted Melo’s presence and his California roots have a further reach that Bron’s Akron beginnings or Zion’s Spartanburg, South Carolina launching pad.
Melo took a circuitous and unorthodox route to this point, first riding the masterful marketing of Zo’s career by their Dad Lavar to some fame of his own. Then combining a Facebook show, a stint overseas, a rock star year at Spire Institute and a fabulous rookie season in the NBL to create his own buzz and find himself in the same position as Zo was.
Bidding War For Melo Ball
According to Shadow League source, “the sneaker companies believe he’s a transcending talent on and off the court, he checks all the boxes and his following is like a rockstar following…they believe his desire to be one of the best players in the world — despite his celebrity — has been proven.”
“Zion WIlliamson set the benchmark when he signed a 7-year, $75 million deal with Jordan Brand,” added the source. “The sneaker companies believe Melo is that kind of mega brand. He’s a walking Billboard.”
The shoe company bidding war for Melo Ball is looking like it could be as viciously and meticulously strategic as when an 18-year-old LBJ was the subject of one between Nike, Reebok and Adidas 16 years ago. They all wanted a piece of the “greatest player the league has seen since Michael Jordan.”
James ultimately signed with Nike and the rest is history.
Not only is Melo Ball box office, he’s the real deal and brands recognize him as an “it” player that is already popping — especially with the younger egenration — without the machine. Don’t be surprised when Melo breaks the bank because behind the scenes these brands are all setting up a pitch that can nab the big fish.