LaVar Ball: Is He a Genius or Not?

“With the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select… Lonzo Ball from UCLA.” By putting his eldest son, Lonzo, in purple and gold and enshrining him in the city of angels, the primary agenda of marketing tycoon LaVar Ball was fulfilled. The Big Baller Brand, the Ball family brand, has generated massive amounts of revenue not for their athletic apparel, but rather as a result of Lonzo Ball’s legendary season at UCLA, Lavar Ball’s outrageous claims, and youngest son LaMelo’s high school highlights. LaVar Ball is a marketing genius because he plays the odds; everything he says is geared towards garnering national attention.

Ball’s intentions are crystal clear. He wants to get his three talented sons, Lonzo, LiAngelo, and LaMelo, to the NBA. He does this by exposing them to the right people, scouts, potential seekers, and NBA executives. Ball garners their attention by opening his mouth, no matter what comes out. In his mind, no publicity is bad publicity, and that mentality is somehow working. Networks want him on their shows. Phil Knight, co-founder and chairman of Nike, has even admitted interest in signing Lonzo Ball to a shoe deal.

Although Lavar Ball’s initial plan is succeeding in regards to the public following his sons have received (the three of them accumulating over nine million Instagram followers,) the overtness of his opinion has led to serious media backlash. Mentioning the likes of Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Charles Barkley in the same breath as himself and his sons is simply an assault to the all-time great accomplishments of the said players. The way Ball goes out of his own way to get heads to turn towards him has not always been ethical, and might also be distracting for his children. Consequently, Lonzo Ball is in the midst of an impressive yet inefficient rookie season with the Lakers, while LaMelo and LiAngelo Ball are currently playing overseas in Lithuania rather than following the same path as their older brother. It is clear that LaVar Ball’s methods can be criticized, but it’s tough to argue with the results. His marketing astuteness is indicative of future success, and his impact on 2017, positive or negative, must not be overlooked.

Ball’s lack of filter is strategic, and his brand, his sons, and his bank account have seen massive public growth as a result. His ingenuity is highlighted in his innate marketing ability. Some say that Ball has exploited his sons to a point where it has become harmful, but they are simply cogs in the massive machine that is the Big Baller Brand. The critics love to nitpick his statements, failing to realize they benefit Ball in the long run. Ball’s ability to produce a nationwide response is simply groundbreaking. For those who doubt Ball, his sons, or his company, here’s one thing to keep in mind: “Stay in yo’ lane!”

– Vijay Sastry ’20

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