If truly the only goal of the Ball family’s Big Baller Brand is to appeal to “ballers” — people who can afford overpriced, mediocrely designed gear just for the sake of having it — then Triple B is on the right track.
With the price point for Lonzo Ball’s ZO2, $495, made official the other day, it’s clear that Big Baller Brand is going to do things its own way and buck the trend of what most young, soon-to-be NBA players do. We can get into the completely batshit explanations and reasoning that LaVar has given for the price point — not to mention the $220 slides — but here’s what I will say: I understand why the family is doing Lonzo’s shoe this way.
To clarify, I mean that I understand why the family would use its own brand to kick off Lonzo signature shoe line. In a world where high-profile players like John Wall and Isaiah Thomas don’t have signature kicks yet, where it took Paul George seven (six really) seasons to get his own signature, it makes sense why someone would want to change things up.
Yeah, that’s all I’ve got in terms of understanding. Literally everything else these self-proclaimed “big ballers” are doing is ridiculous nonsense resulting from a lack of business acumen.
Praise LaVar Ball all you want for his marketing “prowess.” Call him a genius for spending all of Lonzo’s only collegiate season saying outrageous things and getting his family’s faces and his family’s brand on TV over and over again. Everything he did falls under the “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” belief, right?
I can’t agree with that because people, especially LaVar Ball, seem to be equating brand recognition with brand loyalty. Sure, millions of people are aware of Big Baller Brand because it’s been everywhere in the media thanks to LaVar’s nonsensical ramblings. However, why are people assuming that awareness is going to automatically lead to success?
Big Baller Brand sells shirts, hoodies, and hats for upwards of $100. The products look like they were hastily designed by someone with rudimentary design knowledge in Photoshop — which they likely were, assumedly by LaVar, since he knows all, apparently. The designs are either ugly, overly minimalist, or, impressively, both. And now you bring in a $495 shoe that looks like a Kobe knockoff and a $220 slide that could easily be a re-skinned Air Jordan.
Could familiar designs actually work? Absolutely. If the shoe were cheaper than the popular sneakers they somewhat mimic. The problem is: people who want good-looking sneakers can go buy THREE pairs for what BBB is selling one for.
I don’t think any amount of brand recognition is going to alleviate that major hang-up. LaVar compared the shoe/slide’s price point to that of Gucci, a company that has been around for over 100 years. Gucci established itself from the beginning as a provider of high-end, luxury goods, with roots dating back to the late 19th century. Where the company is now in terms of success and brand loyalty didn’t happen overnight, but LaVar is acting like his brand will parallel that success as soon as this shoe drops.
He couldn’t be more wrong and, while we’re at it, does that mean he’s going after competitors in the high-end fashion market? Because he’s going to lose and lose badly. The problem with BBB targeting that market is that, while brands like Gucci, Fendi, and Prada are overpriced, the clothes and shoes are well-designed and very fashionable. Big Baller Brand’s stuff is neither.
From the jump, this company has an identity crisis. The product is more expensive and less stylish than Nike, Air Jordan, Adidas, Reebok, and Under Armour while being similarly priced and vastly less stylish than Gucci, Prada, etc. There’s really no section of the fashion/athletic market for this brand. LaVar is trying to squeeze his Big Ballers into an already overcrowded fashion industry without a hook. His hook is “if you can’t afford $495 shoe, you don’t deserve to have it.” Good one, dawg.
As we’ve covered, this guy — along with some of his supporters — continue to confuse brand recognition with brand loyalty. If you know Big Baller Brand, you’re going to buy it. Consumers in 2017 are not nearly that stupid and have an abundance of resources to find rare kicks, nice shirts, and cool hats, all while NOT spending $495 on a non-refundable, non-exchangeable shoe.
That’s another ridiculous thing. Did no one tell LaVar that Gucci offers a 30-day return policy? The way he’s “building” this brand isn’t innovative. It isn’t cool. It isn’t how ballers do it. Real ballers would work with the right people to create a brand that offers something positive that the other major athletic apparel companies don’t, while at least feigning respect for its target consumer.
Lonzo hasn’t even touched an NBA court and his younger brothers haven’t touched a collegiate court. Already reputations are on the line thanks to the absurdly bad business decisions being made. I just hope that the kids get through this without too much negativity because they seem like fine young men. However, LaVar is setting BBB up for failure and his kids will be in the crosshairs because of it.
LaVar said in an interview that they turned down deals from Nike and the others worth millions because they’re after more than that. They’re after “the B…billions.” Well, I’m certainly seeing a B in BBB’s future.
Let’s talk about some advanced analytics, one of everybody’s — or at least my — favorite things about sports. Analytics have become a much bigger deal in today’s NHL than they ever were before. It used to be that plus-minus was the only “advanced” statistic anyone really kept track of, but we now know that there are much better ways of measuring a player/team’s performance.
Today, we’ll be looking at Corsi, which is a way to measure shot attempt differential while at even strength. In other words, it measures puck possession for a team or for an individual while he is on the ice. Corsi takes a team’s shots on goal, shots blocked, and missed shots, and adds them together to get one number, also known as “Corsi For.”
SOG + Shots Blocked + Missed Shots = Corsi For
Then, the same thing is done “against” this team. An opponent’s shots on goal, shots blocked, and shots that missed the net, are added together to get “Corsi Against.”
The Corsi For is then divided by the Corsi For plus the Corsi Against to get the Corsi %
Corsi For / (Corsi For + Corsi Against) = Corsi %
Let’s take an individual skater’s example. Looking at Artemi Panarin, center for the Chicago Blackhawks, we can see that his Corsi For (SOG+blocks+misses) is 911 for the season. His Corsi Against is 679. We’ll plug those number into our equation:
911 / (911+679) = 57.3%
Anything above 50% is considered good, because it means that, more often than not, the team was controlling the puck while that player was on the ice. Based on this stat, we can gather that the Blackhawks possess the puck very well when Panarin is on the ice.
It’s pretty simple when you break it down, especially when you’re not the one tallying the Corsi numbers. If you’re interested in how a player on your favorite team is performing in terms of puck possession while he’s on the ice, check out the Corsi stat on hockey-reference.com or Corsica.
Vegas Golden Knights’ general manager George McPhee must be feeling like a young John Goodman in front of a large craft services table right now. In what has been one of the most ruthless, surprising years for head coaching changes, the newly minted expansion team has some fantastic, experience-laden coaching options to choose from.
McPhee has already come out saying that he wants veteran coaching experience behind the bench during the Vegas squad’s early years. When you look at the experience, and successes, of the four NHL coaches that have been relieved of their duties thus far in the 2016-17 season, McPhee has some great options to choose from.
The first, and most surprising, firing of the year was back in November when the Florida Panthers let go of Gerard Gallant. In a strange move, the Panthers’ GM Tom Rowe fired Gallant after an away game and promoted…himself. A lot of speculation has surrounded the reasoning behind Gallant’s firing, but the general consensus has been that he didn’t see eye to eye with Rowe and owner Vinnie Viola’s vision for the team and reliance on heavy analytics.
Gallant was coming off coaching Florida to its best season in franchise history, in which it grabbed 103 points and finished 1st in the Atlantic Division on its way to a 1st round exit to the Islanders. Gallant was 96-64-25 in his two-plus seasons with the Panthers and he solidified himself as a very good coach, one who resonates with his players both young and old. In a situation where the Golden Knights will have a somewhat cobbled together squad especially in those first couple of years, a guy like Gallant who can get the most out of his young guys and veterans would be a good first.
Second to see the axe this season was the New York Islanders’ Jack Capuano. Fired in January, Capuano had led the team to a lackluster 17-17-8 start. However, it’s been stated by anyone and everyone who knows hockey that Cappy’s firing was more to cover the butt of GM Garth Snow, who has done a lousy job of running this team and let go of potential franchise players and gotten back skaters like Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera, who haven’t done much to improve the Islanders.
Capuano, the league’s 4th longest tenured coach before his firing, had led the Islanders to the playoffs in three of the previous four seasons, while finishing with a record of 227-192-64.
You have to wonder if a guy with Capuano’s tenure is going to want to jump right back into an NHL head coaching job after so many years, but the Golden Knights will certainly be giving him a ring…in hopes he’ll help them get a ring.
We already knew that the St. Louis Blues’ Ken Hitchcock was on his way out, as the team had hired former Wild coach Mike Yeo as associate head coach in line to take over after the 16-17 season. However, the Blues were never really able to find their stride this season and Hitchcock was only able to lead the team to a record of 24-21-5 despite having a quality team that included the likes of Vladimir Tarasenko.
Hitch was already on his way out, but the team decided to let him go and usher in the Mike Yeo area a few months early. Overall, Hitchcock did a wonderful job in his six years with the franchise, leading the team to a 248-124-41 record. He led the Blues to the playoffs in all of his five full seasons and won the Jack Adams Award in 2012. The man can coach and he’ll coach again. Maybe it’ll be for the Vegas Golden Knights.
And just yesterday, February 7th, the Boston Bruins let go of 10-year coach Claude Julien. The head coach of Boston since 2007, Julien holds the franchise record for most wins with 419 and led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup Championship in 2010-11. However, over the past two seasons, the Bruins failed to make the playoffs and speculation about Julien’s job security began to form.
This season, Julien had led the Bruins to a 26-23-6 record and the franchise has been mired in frustration over this. Based on the team Julien was putting out on the ice every night, a team built around the likes of Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, the Bruins should have been winning more in a somewhat weak Atlantic Division.
Julien won’t be waiting long to get another job and it’ll be up to George McPhee to make an early and aggressive push for one of the NHL’s top coaches of the past decade.
A quick hire of any of these four, veteran coaches would give the Golden Knights an immediate advantage as the team heads toward the expansion draft in July so expect to hear some new. A tenured, experienced coach will help McPhee make personnel decisions and give some insight into how to build a team that can start winning games as soon as it takes the ice.
No matter who Vegas decides to go with, assuming it’s even one of these four, the team has some fantastic options to choose from and we haven’t even finished the season yet.
There’s no denying that this year has been especially crappy in a lot of ways. Death, racism, politics, taxes. It’s all been terrible. We have a lot to be angry and sad about but I want to take a few moments to honor some of the stuff to be happy and…happy about.
Sports have been amazing this year. From college to the pros…storylines have been tailor made for movies in 2016. From Super Bowl LX to March Madness 2016 to, well, we’ll get to all of it…
Those of you who know me well understand how tough of a year 2016 has been for me personally and professionally. Outside of friends and family, sports were what pulled me out of the doldrums that certain events put me in. I lost myself in football, hockey, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, tennis, soccer and the freakin’ Olympics this year. In my own selfish way, I felt like this 365 days of sport waited for me to really need it. I’m sure there are so many others who feel the exact same way.
I’d like to take it all the way back to the beginning and discuss my favorite sports moments of 2016. Join me, won’t you?
John Scott makes NHL All-Star Weekend
I’ll try to avoid getting too in the weeds here when it comes to the nuances of the NHL. I know it’s not everybody’s cup of tea but there are a couple quick things you need to know to understand the pertinence of this story:
Now that you know those things, we can continue.
In 2016, John Scott, a guy that never had all-star caliber talent or numbers, was voted the Pacific Division captain. For a moment, it was a feel good story about a likable hockey player near the end of his career who fans wanted to see in the NHL All-Star Game. And then, it wasn’t feel good anymore.
The NHL, infuriated by fans not taking this All-Star process seriously — even though the NHL All-Star Weekend has never been taken seriously — did everything it could to muscle John Scott out of the festivities. He was traded from the Arizona Coyotes to the Montreal Canadiens AHL team, thus removing him from the Pacific Division he was voted captain of, and was assumed to be ineligible for the game because of it. It’s widely regarded that the NHL pushed for the trade to get rid of this “problem.”
After much fan and player backlash, the NHL decided to let Scott play in the game despite his “ineligibility.” Wow, what a nice gesture. It didn’t end there, though.
After a call from an NHL representative, Scott revealed that said rep actually asked him, “Do you think this is something your kids will be proud of?” In what can be perceived as one of the most childish actions from a league (at least publicized), the NHL actually brought his family into this.
Instead of backing down, Scott decided to say “fuck you” to the NHL and play in the game. He let his kids be proud of whatever the hell they wanted to be proud of instead of letting a prick from the National Hockey League decide that for them.
Scott ended up participating in the fastest shot challenge and the 3-on-3 all-star game. He scored two goals and had an enforcer-like hit on superstar Patrick Kane. The crowd and players loved his effort and he was awarded the MVP, which included a $1 million check. As a player that never made superstar money, this was great to see. He had a great time, was respected and revered by his peers, and walked away with some money for his family (his wife was pregnant with twins at the time).
Scott retired earlier this year and while he’ll never go down as one of the greatest players, his story will certainly go down as one of the greatest All-Star Game memories.
Peyton Manning goes out a Super Bowl Champ
After going one of two in Super Bowls with the Colts, pundits and fans alike often wondered where Manning’s place in history would be if he never won another championship.
We wondered this even more after the 43-8 drubbing his Denver Broncos suffered at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks.
And after his injury-riddled season in 2014, and frankly his injury-riddled 2015 campaign that saw backup Brock Osweiler take over at one point, we thought his Super Bowl winning days were surely over.
Defying all odds, the Broncos got back to this year’s Super Bowl against the stellar Carolina Panthers. This was sure to be a defensive battle between two of the best in the league and that’s what we go.
Manning didn’t have a Manning-esque performance by any means, and it wasn’t his quarterback play that won Denver the Super Bowl. But, as a longtime Peyton fan, it was so great to see him go out on top and get that elusive second championship ring.
Villanova’s Last-Second Championship Buzzer Beater
March Madness 2016 had a lot of amazing moments, as every March Madness does. But it was Nova’s last second three-pointer to win the National Championship that stood above them all.
Now, as an avid Butler supporter who watched his team lose two National Championships in a row in heartbreaking fashion, I truly felt/still feel for my boy — and fellow 51YL contributor — Christian, as we sat (stood) in my apartment and watched Nova’s Kris Jenkins bury the game-winning 3 against North Carolina.
After UNC’s Marcus Paige hit an amazing, acrobatic 3 to take the lead with just 4.7 seconds left, Nova’s Ryan Archidiaccanoa sprinted down the floor and shuffled the ball over to Kris Jenkins, who splashed home the winning shot. It was an unbelievable game, an unbelievable sequence from both teams, and Villanova came out the victors.
Now, watching the expression on my boy’s face was devastating. However, I think even he would admit, 9 months later, that this was an amazing moment in college basketball history.
And now we both have moments that will play during the pre-game March Madness montages. Gordon Hayward was SO close on that half-court shot!
Leicester City Stuns the World by Winning the Premier League
If there’s one sport I know most of my readers don’t care about, it’s soccer. I’ll keep this one somewhat short.
Before the 2015-16 Premier League (British soccer) season began, Leicester City had 3000-1 odds to win the entire league. Winning the league entails having the most points (made up of wins and draws) of any of the 20 teams in the EPL. With teams like Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester United always in the hunt for the title, it was almost impossible to predict that a small club like Leicester would win.
Leicester was led by star Jamie Vardy, who scored an extremely impressive 13 goals over 11 straight games, and the small club that no one expected was able to secure a title after Tottenham and Chelsea ended in a 2-2 draw late in May.
It was an unexpected and impressive league title for a club that was just in its second season in the Premier League, returning to the top-tier league in 2014-2015.
North Carolina Men’s Lacrosse Breaks 25-Year Championship Drought
Lacrosse has always been an important sport to me, regardless of how others feel about it. That being said, I always make sure to watch the D1 NCAA Tournament, looking out for the top squads like Syracuse, Maryland, Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame.
So, it was awesome to see the University of North Carolina, an underdog in 2016, get to the National Championship. The Tar Heels did so in impressive fashion, going into the tournament unseeded and undervalued. On Memorial Day, the Heels beat Maryland 14-13 in sudden death overtime to become the first ever unranked team to win a Division 1 National Championship.
It wouldn’t make up for the heartbreak of the loss to Villanova in men’s basketball, but it was certainly an exciting championship for North Carolina.
Cavaliers Bring Cleveland First Championship in 52 Years
We all know this story. The Golden State Warriors led the 2016 NBA Final 3-1 and looked to seal the championship in game 5. Unfortunately, the Warriors lost Draymond Green to suspension for game 5 after a boneheaded groin kick on Cleveland’s LeBron James. The Cavs would win game 5 and 6 and 7, sealing the championship in historic fashion.
Chicago Cubs End 108 Year World Series Drought
Obviously, this storyline is freshest in our minds, considering it happened less than two months ago. Nevertheless, it was one of the coolest sports moments in 2016.
The Cubs, down 3-1 against Cleveland — hmm, coincidence? — were all but done as they headed back to Wrigley Field for game 5. Down 1-0 heading to the fourth inning, the Cubs scored three runs, including a Kris Bryant home run which would end up being the winning run.
In game 6, Chicago went on an offensive tear in Cleveland’s Progressive Field. The Cubbies scored nine runs on 13 hits and never trailed. Arrieta got the win for Chicago and game 7 was to be.
Oh, and what a game 7 it was. After a crazy sequence of pitching, including starter Jake Arrieta being used as an eighth inning reliever, Aroldis Chapman was brought on to seal the game for the Cubs. Champan, who had been used heavily in both games 5 and 6, ended up giving up a 6-3 lead, allowing the Indians to tie the game.
A 17-minute rain delay followed and the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo would go on to call it “the most important thing to happen to the Chicago Cubs in the past 100 years.” After the delay, the Cubs came out rejuvenated. Ben Zobrist had an RBI double, followed by a Miguel Montero RBI single, making the lead 8-6 for the Cubs.
An Indians run would follow, making it 8-7, but the Cubs closed it out on a Kris Bryant-fielded grounder to end the game and give the Cubs their first World Series in 108 years.
And we didn’t even dive into the Olympics...
Listen, 2016 was terrible for so many reasons bigger than any individual, than any team. The events that could shape the next decade are much bigger than superficial things like sports. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate the amazing events that happened in the sports world. If you’re like me, sports are extremely important and have helped you through some immensely tough times.
2017 isn’t going to be any easier, but here’s hoping we have cool shit to marvel at like the athletic storylines we've experienced this year.
A hot-button issue looming over the Chicago franchise this year is the need to find a way to re-sign Artemi Panarin. The Calder Memorial Trophy a year ago, Panarin has emerged as one of the superstars of the Blackhawks, a guy that needs to stay in the Windy City no matter what.
Outside of trading Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews, there really aren’t any trade scenarios that could irk me if the scenario results in cap room to give Panarin the money he deserves. There are probably some that would argue that Toews might be expendable at this point, but I’m not buying into that nonsense.
Looking at the left winger’s Calder winning season last year, Panarin put up 77 points (30 goals, 47 assists) and was the breakout player of a franchise that went through somewhat of a down year (down for the Blackhawks, not for most teams). He came in on the Hawks second line and had an immediate positive impact, playing in all but two regular season games and posting a plus-8 for the year.
This year has seen his line with Kane and Artem Anisimov move up to the top, and his game has only improved as a result. Through 36 games, Panarin has 15 goals and 21 assists, and is a plus-14. His slap shot is lethal and he has fantastic chemistry with his line mates, who are both signed to long term contracts.
In a world where we’ve seen many young Blackhawk forwards go by the wayside due to cap issues, the front office can’t let the same happen to Panarin. He is a central part to Chicago getting another shot at a Stanley Cup and there are many ways to clear cap space for him, almost all of which would be worth it.
And yes, that includes trading Corey Crawford.