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TMZ: LaMelo Ball Garnering Big Nike Interest for Shoe Contract

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 28, 2019

KINGBOROUGH, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 20: LaMelo Ball drives to the basket during the NBL Blitz pre-season match between Illawarra Hawks and Perth Wildcats at Kingborough Sports Centre on September 20, 2019 in Kingborough, Australia. (Photo by Steve Bell/Getty Images)
Steve Bell/Getty Images

Nike is reportedly showing "serious interest" in signing LaMelo Ball, the potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, to a shoe endorsement contract.

TMZ Sports reported Saturday that Nike has kept a close eye on Ball and has a scout in Australia to watch him play for the Illawarra Hawks in the country's National Basketball League.

The global sports apparel brand hasn't made a formal offer yet, but the "interest is real," per TMZ. The report noted one potential hurdle could be pressure from his father, LaVar Ball, to help revive the Big Baller Brand, which struggled to gain traction after Lonzo Ball was drafted with the No. 2 pick in 2017.

LaMelo's older brother, who was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the New Orleans Pelicans in July as part of the blockbuster Anthony Davis deal, provided advice during an appearance on The Woj Pod with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski (via Christian Rivas of LonzoWire):

"He gets to go to the real, actual process. I mean, when I was coming out, we was just working on my shoe, Big Baller Brand. That's all it was. I didn't take any meetings with anybody else, and it was already kind of set for me. But for him, I tell him all the time it's your decision.

"You're going to have the chance to talk to Adidas, go talk to Nike, talk to Puma, talk to everybody. Take every meeting, and whoever wants you the most, go with them. I told 'em to take control of his career now; don't wait like I did. Hopefully that helps him. He's seems like he's taking it all in, and I'm excited for him."

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In March, Lonzo told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Paula Lavigne he severed ties with Big Baller Brand co-founder Alan Foster after discovering about $1.5 million was missing from his personal and business accounts. He filed a lawsuit against Foster in April.

LaVar isn't ready to give up on the family business, though. After a clip from the family's reality show, Ball in the Family, went viral, with Lonzo calling the brand "demolished," the patriarch appeared on The Weekly Pass podcast (via Justin Terranova of the New York Post) to defend the BBB.

"The brand is always great," he said. "It's a family brand. That's not even Lonzo. That's not him talking [when] he said the brand is demolished. … That's somebody else got in his ear. He don't use the word 'demolished.' … Here's the thing, somebody did something bad within my company, that's all."

LaMelo hasn't provided a timetable for a decision on his shoe deal or commented on whether the Big Baller Brand is under consideration as part of the process.

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