It was a play off the go-to Big Baller Brand hashtag #GetUrMerch that seems a distant memory after Ball severed ties with Alan Foster, part owner of Big Baller Brand and his father’s best friend, after Foster reportedly took money from Ball’s personal and business accounts without permission.
There’s nothing wrong with a clean start and moving beyond bad ideas like starting your own sneaker company. However, imagine being a fan of Ball and dropping $500 on his sneakers only to see his business manager direct you to dump them in the trash.
Spending hundreds of dollars on Big Baller Brand merchandise never seemed like a smart investment, but it was hard to tell that to the kids who were infatuated with the Ball family. Crowds at Big Baller Brand pop-up shop openings in Shanghai, New York and Los Angeles were comprised largely of young fans with their parents. They loved watching the “Ball in the Family” reality show, loved Lonzo, LaMelo, LiAngelo and LaVar, and had no problem waiting in lines that stretched blocks to get their “merch.”
When the New York pop-up shop opened a little more than a year ago, hundreds of kids waiting in the cold to meet the Balls were entertained by Foster and Moore, who gave away shirts and high-fived fans who recognized them from the reality show.
Ball may want to be his own man now and cut ties with Foster and Big Baller Brand, or shut down the company altogether — all signs of it have been erased from Ball’s social media accounts — but that isn’t going to solve all his problems. He has to do more to keep his fans, who have been loyal despite him missing almost as many games as he has played since he entered the NBA, and attract new fans. He’s not going to do that by directing them to throw away shoes they paid hundreds of dollars for, and in some cases waited hours in line to buy.
Maybe Ball could give a discount on his first pair of Nikes to anyone who made the mistake of buying Big Baller Brand shoes. Perhaps he could partner with a local youth organization for his fans that want to donate their Big Baller Brand sneakers and merchandise to people who need shoes and clothing, no matter who they are or aren’t endorsed by. Who knows, maybe he could do both and think of a catchy hashtag for it.
It’s great to see Ball taking control of his career and becoming his own man, but he shouldn’t do that at the expense of his fans, many of them kids, who supported him and Big Baller Brand from the beginning. They deserve something more than a video of his manager advising them to dump their shoes in the trash.
There are seminal moments when an athlete knows they have arrived. Years ago that was getting your face on a box of Wheaties. In 2019 and in the multi-billion-dollar world of esports, that’s getting your picture on a can of Red Bull.
On Wednesday, Red Bull will announce that Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, the most popular video game player on the planet with more than 53 million followers across Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, will get his own limited edition can. The popular Fortnite player joins soccer star Neymar and Chicago Cubs third baseball Kris Bryant, who also got their own limited edition cans.
It’s easy to overlook the Chargers in Los Angeles with the Rams making a Super Bowl run last season and favored to go back next season. But since Oct. 2, 2017, the Rams are 23-9 and the Chargers 22-8. At Monday’s L.A. Sports Awards held at the Beverly Hilton, the Chargers finally got some respect locally as Anthony Lynn was named the coach of the year and quarterback Philip Rivers, along with Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, were named the sportsmen of the year.