Could shady accounting result in the death of Big Baller Brand.
When LaVar Ball started his ranting a few years ago, most laughed at him, saying he was just a big talker. But the media fell in love with him, posting everything he said. Companies like ESPN and Fox Sports gave him all of the on-air shine their ratings thirsted for.
Capitalizing on the newfound success and popularity, he went on to create Big Baller Brand (“BBB”), which produced apparel for Big Ballers (obviously).
Then 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.
The results were mixed, many feeling that the company and LaVar’s antics generated more PR return on investment than actual revenue. Yet that didn’t stop the Ball machine from rolling along.
But news from over the weekend might cause a Big Baller derailment.
Per ESPN, Lonzo Ball severed ties with BBB partner and co-founder, Alan Foster, over questionable accounting practices and missing money.
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 own 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.
While things appeared to be all good, Lonzo’s financial manager, Humble Lukanga of Life Line Financial Group, raised questions last October when the $1.5 million in question couldn’t be accounted for. After much back and forth, LaVar finally got involved and reviewed the documents and correspondence from Lukanga, leading to this decision to sever ties with Foster. He issued the following statement to ESPN in regards to the issue:
“I’ve always believed in the best in people. Regretfully, I put my complete trust in Alan Foster to manage my son’s business affairs,” said LaVar. “At the end of the day, family comes first, and I support Zo wholeheartedly. Together, we will make this right.”
Foster, ironically, has a criminal past. According to ESPN, “In 2002, Foster was sentenced to more than seven years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of mail fraud and two counts of money laundering as part of a scheme that defrauded 70 investors of $4 million, according to federal court records obtained by ESPN. Foster was also ordered to pay $3.7 million in restitution to victims.”
Lonzo said he wasn’t aware of Foster’s past, but this weekend he finally decided to do something about the situation after the huge sum could not be accounted for. He severed ties with Foster and then posted this image on IG in response.
After removing BBB from his personal account, posting a Nike like image and using the hashtag “#MyOwnMan”, many assume that Lonzo would be moving on to the “swoosh.” If that’s the case, it could signify the end of BBB. The company has already had issues fulfilling the orders they received and the Better Business Bureau gave the company an “F” rating last year.
And even though Lonzo is still featured on the ZO2 collection website, it appears that the apparel has been discounted as there is a “50% off sitewide” message at the top of the site.
LaVar was the face of the BBB movement, but in many ways his company appears to be an extension of his ridiculous boasts like being able to beat Michael Jordan; there’s nothing of substance to it. If you don’t have a real business plan in place and can’t deliver upon what was promised, it’s all for naught.
The company seems to be plagued with issues, hiding behind LaVar’s camera-dominating presence. And after this most recent news involving Lonzo’s money, it seems the cover has been pulled back on a company lacking true infrastructure.
While we’re sure that LaVar will be looking to execute a similar strategy for LaMelo when/if his turn comes up, it appears that the Big Baller Brand has taken a major L and could be getting smaller very quickly.