How One Family is Changing Basketball

I was raised in a very sports-centric family. My fondest memories are from TV viewings in our living room with my immediate family, friends, cousins, etc. It doesn’t matter what league or day of the week, our TV is always ready for the next big game. broncosAs a native Coloradoan, I have taken all of my teams with me to college, all except one. I am not a Nuggets fan or basketball fan. I think it is boring to watch at home and even boring to attend games- the only exciting part is March Madness. Other than that, to me, basketball is a back and forth neck-ache that really isn’t fun to watch until the last few minutes and just as the thrill starts to begin there are endless penalties and timeouts. I hate how dragged out it is.

But! I have recently found a new sparked interest in the sport and the NBA. And it’s all because I saw one episode of a show on Facebook that highlights one family, dubbed as the “Kardashian’s of Basketball”… Let me introduce you to the Ball Family. A family of five. All impressive** athletes with talent, personalities, and recent incidents that have gained a lot of attention in the past year or so.

Melo Ball's 16th Birthday

From Right to Left: Lonzo, LaMelo, Tina, LaVar, and LiAngelo Ball. 

 

Here is a quick run-down of the fam if you haven’t heard of them. LaVar Ball, a former collegiate athlete and NFL practice squad member, is married to Tina Ball who also played collegiate basketball. Their three boys are the “special” and the “best ball players” LaVar has ever seen and their goal is to take over basketball. With LaMelo currently in high school, LiAngelo starting his freshman year at UCLA, and Lonzo in his Rookie year in the NBA with the Las Angeles Lakers, they all plan to follow each other in Lonzo’s, the oldest, footsteps by playing for the Lakers as well.

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Remember our Facebook unit? Talking about how Facebook needs to start creating its own content in order to keep up with Netflix, Amazon, etc. Well, the Ball Family is one of their first attempts to do so. “Ball in the Family” a documentary/ reality TV show that currently has one season of ten episodes that is streamed directly through Facebook. An unfiltered look into the family, episodes cover the emotions, heartache (Tina recently suffered from a stroke), food, school, girls, and of course, basketball. Check out the trailer here!

lamelo

LaMelo Ball with Chino Hills High School

lonzo

Lonzo Ball with UCLA

With almost a million views on each episode, this family is widely followed. But the show isn’t the only reason they are famous… there is a lot of criticism and commentary on the parenting style, over confidence in skill, and ridiculous stunts that has gotten LaVar and his boys in the press. For example, racist comments on UCLA’s loss to Kentucky, or LaVar believing he could beat Michael Jordan, or sexist comments to a female referee to just name a few. The stories are endless, and honestly its hard to keep up!

 

Lavar

Yes, LaVar truly believes this…

So, obviously there’s a lot of attention in the news but their presence isn’t limited to LaVar’s off-putting comments.  The family also holds a very strong social media presence. With thousands if not millions of followers, this family and the so called “Ball Era” has truly gained millions of people’s attention.

 

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The Ball Family has capitalized on this fandom and media presence. The Big Baller Brand is blowing up with popularity on their social media, the news, and their show. bigballerbrandWith shirts quoting LaVar’s most popular comments and Lonzo’s new line of shoes priced at $495 (without him even stepping foot on the NBA court yet) and other apparel, “BBB” is benefitting and the Ball family is raking in money, independence, control, security, and a guarantee of staying relevant and always in the conversation.

They are doing things in ways that have never been done before- like releasing a rookie shoe on an independent brand, or having a 13-year-old verbally commit to UCLA, etc. This family is talking a big game and in terms of gaining popularity, it’s working and working really well.

This popularity could and is currently hurting them in some situations. Big companies are hesitant to sign any of the Ball family as representatives or drafting them in fear of LaVar hurting their brand. Saturday Night Live (very funny- I highly recommend) is taking advantage of them to get some extra laughs, and the extra spotlight is putting more pressure on his family. LiAngelo and two other teammates have been accused of shoplifting Louis Vuitton sunglasses and other high-end stores on the team’s season opener trip to Hangzhou, China.

This family’s fast paced journey to fame puts a lot of pressure on themselves, but it also is setting a precedent for rising athletes, and rising “dynasties”. Although no one is recommending racism, sexism, and over confidence to become a trending topic, it is currently working for the Ball family but it will be super interesting to see how this behavior will affect the rest of Lonzo’s carreer and the beginning of LiAngelo’s and LaMelo’s, and the success of Big Baller Brand.

 

Please comment and share your feelings about this family, especially LaVar!

** Some say LaVar’s confidence is not credible…

 

Sources:
http://www.businessinsider.com/lavar-ball-family-lonzo-2017-6
https://youtu.be/obdtgWeWUBE
http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/week-liangelo-ball-family-forget-article-1.3623046
http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/week-liangelo-ball-family-forget-article-1.3623046
https://www.facebook.com/ballinthefamily/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDxsYsfJwXk
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/march-madness-ucla-lonzo-ball-and-brothers-father-lavar-ball/
http://nbafamily.wikia.com/wiki/Tina_Ball
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LaMelo_Ball
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lonzo_Ball
http://nbafamily.wikia.com/wiki/LiAngelo_Ball
http://nbafamily.wikia.com/wiki/Tina_Ball
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LaVar_Ball
https://bigballerbrand.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OvJrkc7wgE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPtx0Ei1G88
http://www.dailynews.com/2017/04/06/lavar-ball-blames-foot-speed-of-white-guys-for-ucla-downfall/
https://www.sbnation.com/2017/6/22/15827144/lavar-ball-lonzo-ball-big-baller-brand-nba-zo2-shoe-deal-endorsement-brand
http://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/07/nba-referees-blast-lavar-ball-comments-female-official-ref-aau
https://www.cbssports.com/college-basketball/news/report-liangelo-ball-other-players-arrested-have-to-stay-in-china-for-a-week-or-two/

9 comments

  1. Really cool article! Much like we saw with the Kardashians on Wednesday during Eric’s presentation, a family can become very powerful in a social media space if they are all on board. For me personally, the Ball family has been like a train wreck that I can’t look away from. I really don’t want to see it, but I can’t help but watch. Every time ESPN or some other media outlet starts talking about what Lavar Ball said this time, I always think to myself “why would I care?” But he is an incredibly polarizing figure, and millions of people, myself included, can’t help but be intrigued by him and his family

  2. Great post! The comparison of the Ball family to the Kardashians is perfect – both benefited from unorthodox means of gaining publicity. LaVar created so much hype about Lonzo right before the 2017 NBA Draft and even though he’s said a lot of blasphemous things, media outlets and everyday people alike can’t help but publish stories, post comments or create memes about those two. I truly believe that LaVar has the means and the resources to sustain these publicity stunts and virality attempts. As the saying goes, “you’re doing something right if there are haters.” It’ll be a smart move in the long run if the Ball kids perform up to standard.

  3. Great post! This family seems to be following the Kardahsian’s model of using controversy to rise to fame. I’m surprised that this blog post is the first time that I’ve heard that Facebook has officially released its own content. I would have thought that I would have seen an advertisement on my own Facebook newsfeed, or that there would have been media coverage on my Twitter etc. I wonder if this is part of Facebook’s marketing strategy? When I went to search for the show I only found it when I specifically googled “the Ball family” and went on their Facebook page. I am curious to see whether or not Facebook is successful in other show releases- it seems like this one has gained a huge following (and this is with little to no advertising!) Excited to see what Facebook does next, and if the Ball family is able to reach a similar level of success as the Kardashians.

  4. Cool post! I think the parallels between the Kardashians and the Ball family are really compelling. I think the main point here is that bad publicity is better than no publicity. One difference that I notice though is the difference between Kris, the Kardashian’s “mom-ager,” and LaVar, who seems to be the dad manager of the Ball family. While LaVar seems to be the cause of a lot of controversy, Kris is the one putting out all the fires, or at least stirring the pot behind the scenes. Both family’s use of social media to increase their fame is strategic, but I wonder what is considered too much to share on social media. For example, the Ball family has featured Tina Ball’s recovery from her serious stroke in their reality show. Given the seriousness of her stroke, I wonder if it’s appropriate to be sharing that with the public? However, the Kardashians have been able to successfully capitalize on their serious life issues (i.e. Kim’s kidnapping in Paris), so maybe the Ball family is looking to do the same.

  5. It’s funny you did a blog post on this family, I always hear my younger brother talking about them. It’s crazy to think that the formula to fame can be through controversy and over the line actions. The Ball family seems like they are definitely aspiring to a Kardashian-type popularity and it looks like it’s working. The only question is, which you addressed in your blog, will other brands take a chance and sign them as a sponsor given the background and risk taking involved in doing so.

  6. My feelings about the Ball’s are the same as I expressed about the Kardashian’s last class. I really cannot understand why so many people are actively interested in their lives. I can get that it’s cool that 3 sons are likely to go pro (one of my friends from home is in a similar position for the NHL). But, that being said, I barely care enough to watch my own friend’s snap stories to see what he had for breakfast. Why would I care about the favorite brunch spot of people who I’ll never meet or have any connection with whatsoever. America’s fascination with celebrities truly blows my mind.

  7. Great post. TBH, I was wondering what all the hype was about the Balls. The explains it. Sort of Kardashians meets Kobe meets Trump. Guess its a winning formula for now.

  8. This was such an interesting post! As both a reality TV and a sports fan I’ll definitely have to watch! From reading your post it seems like LaVar truly believes that there is no such thing as bad press. It’s super interesting the similarities to the Kardashians… one of the parents kind of micromanaging their kids talents– the difference is if one of them is in the NBA and the other the NCAA then they must have some talent! I can see why brands are hesitant– especially if one of the sons is making international news for potential shoplifting. It’ll be interesting if they end up taking the path of successful professional athletes or reality TV stars (or maybe both!)

  9. I agree with @hilarygould that the Ball family is definitely operating under the all press is good press motto. I think they will start getting some endorsement deals given time, if they are still as popular, regardless of their past behavior. Just as Kim K was able to sign endorsements with a variety of brands after she did a sex tape.
    Also is their last name really Ball or is that just a stage name? Seems way too convenient to be true.

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