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. As 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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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. With 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…