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Lonzo Ball isn’t getting a $1 billion shoe contract after all

Kentucky forward Derek Willis (35) pressured UCLA guard Lonzo Ball (2) during UK’s 86-75 win over the Bruins in the NCAA South Region semifinals at FedExForum in Memphis, Tn., Friday, March 24, 2017.
Kentucky forward Derek Willis (35) pressured UCLA guard Lonzo Ball (2) during UK’s 86-75 win over the Bruins in the NCAA South Region semifinals at FedExForum in Memphis, Tn., Friday, March 24, 2017. Lexington Herald-Leader

Looks like ex-UCLA guard Lonzo Ball will begin his NBA career without an endorsement contract from one of the big shoe companies.

ESPN’s Darren Rovell reports that Nike, Under Armour and Adidas have informed Ball’s father, LaVar, that they have no interest in doing a shoe deal with Lonzo.

According to Rovell, the three companies balked at LaVar Ball’s demand that the companies license “his upstart Big Baller Brand from him.” LaVar Ball also showed the companies a shoe prototype he wanted for his son’s first shoe.

Big Baller Brand is an apparel company started by LaVar Bell. Right now, the company sells t-shirts, hats and sweatshirts.

In the past, LaVar Ball demanded a $1 billion shoe contract for Lonzo and his younger brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo.

George Raveling, Nike’s director of international basketball, called LaVar Ball, “the worst thing to happen to basketball in the last hundred years.”

Kevin Draper of Deadspin has a different take. “Why shouldn’t someone take on the Big Time Sneaker Brands, and their assumptions about who is marketable and how?” Draper writes. “If Steph Curry can singlehandedly raise Under Armour’s fortunes, why can’t Lonzo Ball do that with a Chinese shoe company, or a company that doesn’t yet exist?

Lonzo Ball, whose college career ended with UCLA’s loss to Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis, is expected to be a top three pick in this summer’s NBA Draft.

Draft Express currently has Ball at No. 2 in its 2017 Mock Draft behind Markelle Fultz of Washington.

That same mock has ex-Kentucky players De’Aaron Fox going at No. 5, Malik Monk at No. 7 and Bam Adebayo at No. 31.

Ball averaged 14.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.6 assists for the Bruins last season. UCLA beat UK 97-92 in Lexington on Dec. 5 before losing to the Cats 86-75 on March 24 in Indy.

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