LaVar Ball, the father of UCLA standout Lonzo Ball, thinks most people are too soft.
He has ruffled some feathers over the past few months with his unwavering confidence in his sons, Lonzo at UCLA and his two younger sons at Chino Hills who are committed to the Bruins, and his approach to the business of basketball. LaVar has stated that his family is opting to create their own brand, the Big Baller Brand, instead of having his sons sign a possibly lucrative sponsorship deal out of college.
But he knows more about this than you do. This isn't an impulse decision. It's a calculated approach to bettering the future for his sons and leveraging their on-court success and off-court brand visibility into a profitable future.
LaVar joined us for an exclusive Q&A and answered questions about UCLA and why his sons chose the Bruins, who his sons are chasing after, and what he has to say to those who question his parenting methods.
Fox Sports Radio: Let’s start by talking about Lonzo, and the idea that your son could be the first player drafted with his own brand, the Big Baller Brand.
How did that idea originate, who came up with the plan, and what do you think the benefits are for player with the caliber of Lonzo passing up sponsorship money to think long-term?
LaVar Ball: The Idea generated from our family last name Ball, and we have our own AAU team called Big Ballers AAU. My wife and I have always wanted to lead by example, so the idea of having our own brand was inspired by my 3 boys and the hard work and commitment it takes to be a winner. We associate winning with being a Big Baller. That translates to winning in life period. It's a lifestyle, and we want people to know that whatever you do in this life, be the best, be a "Big Baller"!
The benefits of thinking long term for any high caliber player, before signing the first endorsement deal you are offered is priceless. Who would have known that Nike was going to make $16 Billion from Lebron over 14 years? That's a big number compared to the 90 mil they paid Lebron over 7 years.
The big question is - What is your self-worth? Why not take the risk on yourself and your family, vs handing your brand over to some strangers to do whatever they want.
Big Baller Brand is looking for the co-branding partner that is the best fit for our way of marketing and distribution. We live in a digital era that has really been untapped with the new generation of kids in the marketplace.
FSR: The idea of family is very obviously what drives all of you, and you can see it with the relationships and consistencies you all share. One of those consistencies is UCLA, and more specifically it’s basketball program. With all three sons either starring for UCLA currently or committed to the university in the future, it’s clear where your allegiances lie.
What led to your family decision to attend UCLA, which you’ve labeled the ‘best team on the West Coast’ as opposed to schools like USC? What does UCLA have that USC doesn’t?
BALL: We have always liked UCLA, and my boys went to a camp at UCLA as kids and liked it from day one. UCLA is close to home and the weather is great in LA. Coach Alford is a players coach and allows my boy to do his thing.
I have always said it's the dude that makes the school, not the school that makes the dude. Lonzo has brought entertainment back to Westwood, and they have sold out the arena for the first time in over 10 years. That speaks for itself. My next son will come to UCLA and be the best scorer, while Melo will arrive and be a hybrid of both my sons.
FSR: Obviously UCLA has been extremely successful this year, and that has a lot to do with your son Lonzo’s ability and leadership. What would you say to NBA GM’s who may be hesitant to draft your son due to him coming along with a perceived loud-mouth father?
BALL: I'm the father, I'm not the one on the court playing. There have been fathers absent from a lot of great players lives. I happen to be a father who is involved in all my boy's lives, to lead them in a direction that's best for them, due to the fact that they don't have enough life experience as of yet.
I believe the NBA GM's are smart enough to know the difference.
FSR: On the subject, your parenting has been subject to a lot of scrutiny in recent weeks, with people saying you are putting additional pressure on your sons to succeed. What would you say to anyone who may take issue with how you are raising your sons?
BALL: They raise their kids, and I will raise mine. What you call pressure is not pressure to us. We are America's first basketBALL family. This is entertainment and fun. Pressure is not knowing if you will have food to eat tonight, or you and your family are about to be homeless because you just lost your job. That's pressure! Most people are too soft in my opinion.
FSR: You’re on the record saying Lonzo is going to be one of the all-time greats. You’ve already mentioned Steph Curry in comparison, but added your son will be the taller, faster, stronger player when it’s all said and done. If not the two time MVP, what player in the history of the NBA do you most compare your son to, and what is his ceiling as a professional player?
BALL: I don't compare my boys to anyone. They are the new breed. It's the "BALL ERA".
My boys are only chasing after that one dude.
Whoever is at the top!