Nike has interest in Ball, but not at that price.
Nike co-founder Phil Knight told USA Today in early April that while he thinks projected top-five NBA draft pick Lonzo Ball is “an awfully great player,” the $1 billion price tag on a shoe deal could be a deal breaker.
“It’s a little steep,’’ Knight said. Alluding to Lonzo, he added, “we still have an interest.”
Last month, LaVar Ball claimed he and his three sons would settle for no less than a $1 billion shoe deal with Nike, Adidas or Under Armour.
“A billion dollars, it has to be there,” LaVar Ball told USA Today in March. “That’s our number, a billion, straight out of the gate. And you don’t even have to give it to me all up front. Give us $100 mil over 10 years.”
But if the Balls were hoping to reach that type of deal with Nike, it appears they’ll have to look elsewhere.
LaVar Ball is known for his outlandish claims, but a $1 billion deal isn’t realistic at this point for Lonzo and his brothers, LiAngelo and LaMelo. The latter two have yet to prove they can perform successfully at the collegiate level, let alone the NBA.
LeBron James signed a $1 billion lifetime deal with Nike a couple of years ago, so it’s not like the company is completely opposed to opening up its checkbook when it counts. But it remains to be seen if Lonzo or his brothers will ever become good enough to earn that type of payday.
There’s a chance the elder Ball’s request actually does net them $1 billion, so you can’t knock him for trying — but we’ll see if Knight’s comments coax him to lowering his asking price.