LaVar Ball may very well be the most boisterous and eccentric personalities in the basketball game right now… even though his presence is strictly limited to the courtside. Not one to shy away from outlandish remarks — from stating his son Lonzo is better than Stephen Curry to claiming he could defeat Michael Jordan in a one-on-one — LaVar, along with his three sons, Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo, have routinely drawn attention from major sports media outlets from across the globe.
However, it’s not only LaVar’s controversial comments that have garnered him and his family so much attention, it’s also the ever expanding family-helmed Big Baller Brand label. The business, which LaVar is CEO of, has already released a signature shoe for each one of his sons, including Lonzo’s $495 USD ZO2 sneaker, making Lonzo the first player to have his own brand before ever playing in an NBA game; the first of many accolades LaVar hopes to accomplish for his family.
Dedicated in spreading Big Baller Brand’s wings, LaVar and his youngest son LaMelo dropped down into the bustling city streets of Hong Kong for a special, one day pop-up shop, attracting hundreds of local diehard fans who lined up for hours just for a short moment and quick selfie with the basketball personalities.
Managing to take the briefest of breaks from the sea of smartphones and overeager crowd, we had the opportunity to sit down with LaVar for an exclusive one-on-one interview to discuses the future of the Triples Bs, China’s basketball game and Lonzo’s career at the Lakers. Papa Ball even went on to settle the Nas vs. 21 Savage debate and name his top five sneakers to flex in.
For those who don’t know, what does BBB stand for?
It stands for Big Baller Brand. I’ve always been big, last name is Ball: Big Baller Brand. But each one of these B’s also represents my boys. The first one is a “3” but it looks like a “B,” that’s my youngest and craziest child, Melo. The solid “B” is my strongest son and middle child, LiAngelo; it’s always colored in. The last “B” is for Lonzo, kind of lightweight, but you never know what he’s gonna do. So BBB also stands for the three Ball brothers.
How do you see Big Baller Brand expanding in the future?
I want to expand it and make it one of the biggest empires ever. And when I say that people are kind of like ‘oh that’s kind of too big. How big does he want it?’ I want it as big as possible, so there’s no limit on it. So far it’s just a seed that I’ve planted, and it’s growing.
How has the reaction been so far with BBB being in HK?
The reaction with BBB has been great! People have been looking at us when we walk around, and they be like ‘man what are those Triple Bs?’ In order for people to support it there must be a story behind it, or else you’re not going to wear some stuff you know nothing about. Like I said, what’s interesting about us is it’s independent, it’s family-owned, and it represents dedication, determination and doing something you believe in. Nobody talking like ‘hey let’s create this brand, let’s go make some money,’ it’s all genuine. So instead of just staying over in the states and saying we just gonna keep this to ourselves, man there’s some banging people over here, why not introduce it to you guys too? People are people all around the world. We want to go to more places than just Shanghai, China and Hong Kong, we want to go to Brazil, we want to go to Australia; anybody that wants to invite us, we are coming.
The Lakers haven’t made the playoffs for four or five years. Now if Lonzo makes the playoffs his first year there, that’s something special.
Where do you find design inspirations from?
I don’t find inspiration; it’s just something that happens. The way I look at it is, it’s not like work to us. So if we come up with a good idea or a good color we want to do, we just run with it. We don’t have a board of 17 or 20 people asking ‘do you think this shoe is good?’ We just come up with what we like. So that’s what the Big Baller Brand is all about. It’s that independence and everybody wants that.
Lonzo is doing really well in the NBA, becoming the youngest player to score a triple-double — how did you feel in helping him accomplish that?
I never treated him any different because of stats. I’ve always told him one thing: when you are a point guard it has nothing to do with scoring 50 points, 50 assists, 22 rebounds, that’s nothing if you don’t win. I always taught him about winning. So a point guard is measured on his wins not on the stats that he gets. So for all you guys talking on the outside, that’s okay because between me and him, he knows I’m not a stats guy, so it’s not a big deal that he scored a triple-double, but to the fans it’s great.
But our relationship is different. A relationship with the fans and the father are two different things, so he knows what I’m about, I’m about that “W.” Our main goal is for him to make the playoffs, I don’t worry about individual goals, there are five people on the team. So I worry about how he does with the team, when he makes the playoffs then I’ll be like ‘that’s my boy, let’s celebrate.’ The Lakers haven’t made the playoffs for four or five years. Now if Lonzo makes the playoffs his first year there, that’s something special.
Is BBB going to do any special releases for Lonzo’s accomplishment?
Oh you know that’s all in the works. Something special is in the works.
How do you feel about his new track, “BBB”? Is that an anthem for your family?
You know Lonzo is super creative and super talented; he came up with that right off his mind. And you know why it’s so easy for him? Because he’s genuine and he’s rapping about something that he’s living. It’s not no prefabricated story that he’s trying to rap about.
People are people all around the world. We want to go to more places than just Shanghai, China and Hong Kong, we want to go to Brazil, we want to go to Australia; anybody that wants to invite us, we are coming.
Lonzo made a comment that 21 Savage is better than Nas. What’s your opinion?
Imma tell you what, Nas is better than 21 Savage. I don’t know what 21 Savage is saying, but we are two different people you see. That’s his era, 21 Savage. My era is Nas; it’s Nas, Ice Cube, DMX and 50 Cent.
My boy is 19 years old and it’s okay for him to say Nas is not good compared to 21 Savage, ’cause it’s a new era. It’s just like older people coming to me saying ‘you know what man? That Elvis was the best guy ever.’ I’ll be like ‘that’s the worst singer I have ever heard in my life.’ I don’t know nothing about no Elvis, that’s before my time. So I can see people saying that and having their own opinion and that’s okay case everybody don’t have to like the same thing. That’s what people are allowed, having differences and it’s all right. But as for Lonzo, we in the same family, we just all from different avenues.
How did you influence your sons to become so interested in basketball?
It just so happens that they all love basketball and that’s how it is. I introduced them to football, golf, whatever, but they took a total liking to this basketball thing, which is what I wanted all in the front. But what I want and what they want to do could be two different things or could be the same thing; I’m just lucky it’s the same thing.
But passion for me is not basketball. My passion is training; I can train anything: dogs, frogs, people, anything. But that’s my thing and I trained my boys to be the best at what they wanted to do.
How do you feel about China’s basketball game? Is it on par with the NBA?
I think basketball is the same to me worldwide: put the ball in the hole, speed the game up, play defense. Let’s not make it super difficult. Now a talent might be a little better, a little faster. What happens is the higher levels you go, the people get faster and stronger, but that’s it; the plays stay the same. You only can run so many basketball plays so what happens is you just get faster and stronger and that’s what the Lakers have to do. They have to learn how to play a little bit faster to be successful.
- Mallory Chin/HYPEBEAST
- KENDRA KOH/HYPEBEAST
- MALLORY CHIN/HYPEBEAST