On Thursday, Big Baller Brand officially announced that LaMelo Ball, the youngest member of the Ball family, will have his own signature shoe called the ‘Melo Ball 1’.
The first question everyone asked: ‘How much does it cost?’
That’s a full $100 cheaper than the ZO2!
More importantly, particularly to those UCLA fans that are looking forward to watching Melo play for the Bruins at some point down the road, is whether or not the existence of this shoe and the Ball family’s ability to profit off of Melo’s name and likeness as a result – the shoe, quite literally, has the same name as him – will impact his collegiate eligibility.
By the NCAA’s traditional definition, Melo would no longer be an amateur athlete.
There’s a reason why Liangelo Ball, the middle son that is currently enrolled at UCLA, has not appeared in the family’s FaceBook reality TV show or in the video release for Melo’s shoe. It’s too late in the process to risk that.
Melo, however, has another two years before he has to worry about the NCAA’s arcane rules, and that’s a long way away in an era where Adam Silver is already talking about changing the one-and-done rule. Maybe, come 2019-2020, Melo won’t even have to spend a year in college before entering the NBA Draft.
If the rule isn’t changed by then, there will still be options for Melo. He can go to the G League for a year and then enter the NBA Draft. He can head overseas — maybe somewhere like China, where there is a huge basketball and shoe market — to play for a year. Hell, maybe the NCAA will look at this as Melo simply working for the family business, like all he’s doing is logging hours for Big Baller Brand the same way that he would be if LaVar owned a construction company and he was sheetrocking houses.
It doesn’t matter right now.
As I wrote two months ago, when the Balls invaded Vegas, Melo is already a celebrity. From a business perspective, there may be no better time than now to capitalize on that, to try and use it to sell sneakers.
That may mean he’s no longer an amateur athlete, but it should also put into perspective just how little college basketball means to the Ball family.
They got what they needed out of UCLA last year. Lonzo was a top two pick that ended up with the Lakers, LaVar is a household name and the family is turning into the basketball version of the Kardashians.
Do you really think they are all that worried about whether or not the NCAA will let Melo play three seasons down the road?