The Woof of Ball Street: LaVar Ball
LaVar Ball, the brain behind Big Baller Brand, is quite the polarizing figure, sparking emotions ranging from unwavering support to “MAN, SIT YO ASS DOWN.” Boisterous, opinionated and firm in his beliefs (both fatherly and individually), Ball represents a tangent from the prototypical sports father pedigree. Some may disagree with his approach and demeanor, but it is worth noting that he is creating new dialogue and making individuals uncomfortable. In a strange twist, some of Ball’s characteristics/mannerisms are present in some of the wealthiest individuals leading brokerages and hedge funds in the finance sector. It may be difficult to imagine LaVar Ball as a hedge fund manager, but I’ve been able to draw three parallels that may convince you to believe otherwise:
1. By definition, a hedge fund is an investment vehicle available to wealthy investors, such as institutions and individuals. Hedge fund managers are essentially risk-seeking experts of leverage who use investor funding to generate profits via long (buying stock) or short (selling stock) positions. I know you’re thinking, “How is there a correlation?” Here goes: LaVar and Big Baller Brand set social media ablaze a few months ago with the announcement of Lonzo Ball’s ZO2 basketball shoe. The shoe, which debuted at two different price points ($495 & $995) created a societal chasm. Like hedge fund managers, LaVar catered to a specific group of individuals with the means to purchase Lonzo’s shoes (aka BIG BALLERS) With the taste of defeat in his mouth stemming from disappointing licensing conversations with athletic brands like Nike, adidas and Under Armor, LaVar knew that Big Baller Brand needed to not only gain market traction, but it needed to create leverage. Ball created that leverage via pre-orders and because he didn’t mass produce the ZO2, it was a strong financial showing which gave Big Baller Brand a potential look at their market. Now that Lonzo has been drafted to the Los Angeles Lakers, Big Baller Brand can focus on the number one product: Lonzo’s performance as a pro. This is the true leverage the brand wants to use to increase potential endorsements (FYI – it’s working)
2. Hedge fund managers are often charismatic, impulsive and persuasive. LaVar is every bit of each and then some. Big Baller Brand leads with the narrative of “pushing the culture forward.” That alone has been enough to win over fans demanding creation of new norms in society, let alone American sports. As a strong Black father of 3 young men, LaVar often shares commentary that others can cosign. However, LaVar is far from a linguist and surely doesn’t mince his words/thoughts (both good and bad) Some of his commentary is inflammatory, originating from his personal cache of thoughts and status as a rookie in the media, which are reasons to believe that he thrives off impulse.
3. Hedge fund managers are well-versed in financial law, most notably the lack of laws governing their line of business. Unlike mutual funds, which are heavily regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), hedge funds are free to operate as they please (or until laws are crafted) This lack of regulatory oversight allows hedge fund managers to overextend their reach on securities and take many risks that others wouldn’t. LaVar Ball knew the value of keeping his mouth shut and elected to do the opposite, without hefty consequence. Like hedge funds, there is no one individual who can tell LaVar Ball how to speak his mind. Therefore, what you hear/read/see is what you get.
Essentially, LaVar Ball is a hedge fund manager without the traditional finance pedigree. He’s no Carl Icahn, George Soros or David Tepper, but that’s perfectly fine. He’s rich in pride that naturally comes with being a Black man in America. If all else fails in his attempt to make Big Baller Brand a billion-dollar company, at least he can find solace in knowing that he didn’t alter his morals/principles along the way. LaVar is the big dog on his street, walking wherever he pleases without a care in the world. Make sure you stay in yo lane.