While the LaVar Ball-Donald Trump feud rages on, here’s a look at how they stack up against some of the sports world’s best smack talkers.
USA TODAY Sports
Whether it’s sheer coincidence or brilliant marketing, a sports sponsorship company suggests that LaVar Ball used the days leading up to Thanksgiving to financially bolster his family’s company, Big Baller Brand, thanks to the international visibility he garnered from a feud with President Donald Trump.
“This back and forth with Donald Trump has extended the brand awareness outside of just sports,” Apex Marketing Group president Eric Smallwood told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday.
Apex, a sponsorship-evaluation firm based in St. Clair, Mich., estimated that Big Baller Brand attained $13.2 million (and counting) in free digital and television advertising from Friday to Wednesday. The numbers, reported by ESPN on Wednesday morning, were based on references to Big Baller Brand in the media compared to standard ad rates.
Trump aimed several sharp tweets at the outspoken father of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, most recently calling him an “ungrateful fool” in response to LaVar’s lack of gratitude for the President assisting his middle son, LiAngelo, who was caught in a shoplifting fiasco in China alongside two UCLA teammates.
“To have that reaction from someone as high up as Trump, it has definitely helped (Ball) reach a larger audience,” Smallwood said in the interview. “People who don’t follow sports are starting to get more awareness of the (Big Baller) brand.
“He doesn’t seem to be following any sort of marketing playbook. He couldn’t have known Trump would respond to him, but he’s fortunate Trump did.”
Trump, who intervened in the shoplifting incident by personally reaching out to Chinese president Xi Jinping during his scheduled trip to Beijing, tweeted to LaVar: “You could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China” in reference to the potential prison sentence the three players might have faced for stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton. But Chinese law experts told USA TODAY a high prison sentence was unlikely regardless of any intervention.
…LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you. But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2017
Now, LaVar figures to be spending this Thanksgiving with a Grinch-like smirk on his face similar to the one he sported in a 23-minute CNN interview with Chris Cuomo on Monsday, a media appearance that went viral over the Internet and sparked Trump’s Wednesday tweets.
“Tell Donald Trump to have a great Thanksgiving because Big Baller is,” LaVar said in the CNN interview, while tossing a Fonzie-esque thumbs up to conclude the interview.
Granted, that free exposure isn’t a lock to lead to sales of Big Baller Brand’s most popular products that include $495 sneakers and $50 hats. But that’s half the battle for major companies who shoe out millions for half the visibility LaVar has elicited.
Follow Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson
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