Nike behind ugly $3b family feud
It's all unravelling fast for infamous basketball loud mouth LaVar Ball.
The dad of Lakers star Lonzo Ball, LaVar's Big Baller Brand business now stands at death's door after his own sons dramatically cut ties with the shoe manufacturer after reportedly agreeing to join Nike.
The crazy story of civil war within the high-profile Ball family has played out like an episode of the family's reality TV show 'Ball in the Family'.
According to reports, Lonzo has agreed to sign up with Nike after deleting every trace of the Big Baller Brand on his social media accounts recently.
His move to turn his back on his own dad's company comes after a nightmare week for the emerging shoe specialists where reports claimed the company's top executive has been accused of swindling $US1.5 million and further reports claimed the Los Angeles Lakers ordered Lonzo to stop wearing the Big Baller Brand shoes because they suspect the basketball sneakers may be behind Ball's ongoing ankle injury issues which have seen the team all but put a line through the star guard for the rest of the season.
It has simply been an absolute calamity - and it leaves Lavar, the most infamous old man in basketball, at the helm of a quickly sinking ship.
ESPN first reported Lonzo Ball had recently cut ties with Big Baller Brand co-founder and family friend Alan Foster.
Ball suggested in a statement that the Big Baller Brand shareholder has not satisfactorily explained the whereabouts of $US1.5 million taken from Ball's "personal finances".
"He used his access to my business and personal finances to enrich himself," Ball alleges in the statement provided to ESPN.
"As a result, I have decided to sever all ties with Alan, effective immediately."
The missing money is still yet to be accounted for.
ESPN also reports the company has suspicions the shoes may have been responsible for the ankle injury which has seen the point guard grounded for most of this season.
"They asked me about it, and I told 'em, 'I feel comfortable,'" Ball said.
"If I wasn't comfortable, I wouldn't play in 'em. If I didn't play in them, I'd play in Kobe [Bryant's signature Nike shoe]. I work out in [LeBron James' signature Nike shoe], but that's because they're heavier."
The writing was on the wall from there - and the death sentence in Ball's links to his dad's company appeared to be confirmed when Lonzo deleted and unfollowed Big Baller Brand on Instagram.
He also posted a photo of himself which featured the text of Nike's recent "Just do It" anniversary campaign.
The post was liked by teammate and Nike ambassador LeBron James.
It was also commented on by Ball's younger brother LaMelo, who said: "Thanks for getting us out".
"Moving on to bigger and better #MyOwnMan," Ball wrote on his Instagram account.
"It's only a crazy dream until you do it."
It was only 12 months ago that LaVar famously increased his self evaluation of the Big Baller Brand from $US1 billion to $US3 billion.
The outspoken Lakers critic at the time refused to deal with recognised sneaker companies Nike, adidas and Reebok - a decision which reportedly robbed Lonzo Ball of a shoe deal worth $2-4 million per year.
He said at the time any sport manufacturer would need to pay $3 billion for a collaboration sneaker contract between their company and the Big Baller Brand.
He now stands alone, needing a miracle to save the company he co-founded.
Lonzo has now left it up to close advisers, including agent Harrison Gaines, to sort the terms of his family divorce.
The manager released a statement on social media following the trainwreck reports to declare he plans to be more active in his client's business activities.
"This is a stunning development and a very unfortunate situation for all involved," Gaines wrote.
"Due to the Ball family's business structure, my interactions with Alan Foster were very limited.
"This is a cautionary tale and I'm glad Foster's actions have been discovered. Lonzo has now empowered me to take a more active role in his career."
His first order of business will be negotiating the finer details in Ball's reported move to Nike.