One of the interesting subplots of the Ball family launching their own apparel company, headlined by Thursday’s announcement of Lonzo’s $495 signature ZO2 shoe, is whether or not the younger Balls — LiAngelo, who enrolls at UCLA next season, and LaMelo, who is in the Class of 2019 — will wear the shoes at UCLA.
And the simple answer is ‘No’.
Starting this season, UCLA will be getting paid nearly $19-million a year for the next 15 years — roughly $280 million in total — by Under Armour to have their logo prominently located on every piece of athletic apparel they wear. Basketball shoes, football jerseys, softball helmets, batting gloves, swimming speedos.
Read through the contract if you don’t believe me. It states that where “UCLA’s teams require athletic and athleisure apparel and footwear” that, as long as Under Armour is a “supplier of such products, and wishes to provide [UCLA] such products” that they are legally allowed to do so on “an exclusive basis” to “obtain recognition for its support of UCLA’s intercollegiate athletic teams.”
In layman’s terms: We’re paying you all this money so your teams can be a living, breathing advertisement for the cool stuff we want to sell.
Regardless of how good LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball end up being, they are going to be the most well-known players on UCLA’s roster while they are there. (You can thank LaVar Ball for that.) You think that Under Armour, who is paying $19-million a year for the publicity that comes with sponsoring the Bruin basketball team, is going to let those kids walk around in anything other than Under Armour shoes?
This is wrong, mind you.
The Ball family should be able to capitalize on that marketability themselves. If they’re not getting their own shoe contracts, they should at least be getting a cut of that money going straight into their bank account, not given to them as a scholarship that they have little use for. Amateurism in the NCAA is stupid.
But that’s a different argument for a different day.
These are the rules.
This is how the game works.
And the bottom line is that the Ball family will be decked out in Under Armour when they are playing for UCLA.