Lonzo Ball underwent one makeover last season when he cut off the trademark afro he became known for early in his rookie year and went with a tight fade instead. While another physical transformation may or may not be in the books for him, a personal, and possibly psychological, one appears to be. And that’s the best thing for his career.
Ball has already ditched Big Baller Brand. And he appears to be getting out from under the shadow his father’s brand forced upon him coming out of college. He learned his lesson after getting swindled out of millions by his dad’s close friend, Alan Foster, who Ball is suing for $2 million.
Now Ball is parting ways from his agent, Harrison Gaines. This is not related to Big Baller Brand, as Gaines wasn’t part of the heist. But it does seem related to Ball’s decision to take his future into his own hands. And it seems he’s becoming a true professional.
Gaines, from all reports, seems like a good dude and close friend of Ball. But Ball was his first client. Ball helped him launch SLASH Sports. And while there’s something to be said for entrepreneurialism, there’s also something to be said for infrastructure and experience.
Agents and shoe companies that have been doing this for a long time know what it takes to become a true star in the NBA. They have the infrastructure. They have the experience. And they can pass that support and knowledge to anyone working with them.
That’s what Lonzo Ball needs right now. He needs someone with a proven track record, who has been there before, to grab hold of his career and steer it in the right direction. His father wasn’t doing that. And while Gaines definitely tried, he wasn’t able to do it either. At least not this early in his own career.
Ball took a step back in his sophomore NBA season despite playing alongside LeBron James. He dealt with ankle issues (was it because of the Big Baller shoes?) and his shooting remains an issue both from deep (32.9%) and at the free-throw line (45.1%).
The question is, why? Who was working with him on his shooting last offseason? Who was training him last offseason? Who was helping him improve as a player and take the next step in this hyper-competitive league?
LeBron is one of the first to admit he never would be the player he is today without the support staff around him. Tiger Woods and Tom Brady are the same. They have smart people training them, advising them, connecting them with the brightest minds out there who can help take their game to the next level.
While I’m not comparing Lonzo Ball to any of those three athletes, I am saying he can get better with smarter people around him. Perhaps signing with Nike and getting an agent like Jeff Schwartz or Rich Paul will help him take the next step in his career. I mean, it couldn’t hurt.
Regardless, this professional makeover is good. It allows Ball to create his own identity, not the one his father created for him, and work with different people who have different connections and different ideas.
The idea of building it all from scratch coming out of college was ambitious, but it didn’t work. And just like his haircut last year, this new look should be better for Ball too.