LeBron James ‘Would Welcome’ Lonzo Ball to Nike If He Left Big Baller Brand
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 23: Lonzo Ball #0 hi-fives LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers on December 23, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Los Angeles Lakers superstar forward LeBron James said Monday the door is open for teammate Lonzo Ball to join Nike if he decides to leave Big Baller Brand.

James told Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times he supports Ball, who removed references to Big Baller Brand from his social media pages after he severed ties with company co-founder Alan Foster upon discovering roughly $1.5 million was missing from his personal and business accounts.

“I love the fact that he’s taking control of his s–t. I mean, he’s, that’s what’s really, really dope to me. Once I saw that story, I just seen a kid turning into a man. ‘This is my career and I’m taking this. I done had enough with—whatever. I done had enough. Whatever. If I’m not going to be successful, I’m not going to be successful on my terms.’ I saw a lot of that. We’ll see.

“Whatever the kid decides to do, whatever brand he comes with next—if it’s with Nike, obviously we would welcome him. I would definitely welcome him. I love the kid regardless of what shoes he had on. But we shall see.”

The 34-year-old four-time MVP said every young player faces the challenge of trying to find someone to handle their newfound wealth when they arrive to the NBA, and it doesn’t always work out, per Ganguli.

“That’s the toughest thing,” James said. “Especially when you’re young like Zo, like myself coming into the league. You have to trust someone because we don’t know. You have to trust someone. And you hope that you’re guided the right way. That’s all you can do. That’s all you can hope for. When it’s not what you expect, it hurts. I know.”

Ball was the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft out of UCLA. He opted to stay with Big Baller Brand rather than join an established company like Nike or Adidas.

In July 2017, his father, LaVar Ball, wrote a piece for Slam magazine explaining why his sons were supporting the family business from the ground up.

“We just want to inspire people and show them that there’s a different lane you can travel in,” he explained. “It’s OK to step out and do it another way. Only a select few will do it, but folks will start creating their own brands, like we’ve done with BBB, and more and more families will begin feeling comfortable with betting on themselves.”

Harrison Gaines, Lonzo’s agent, released a statement about taking on a more “active role” handling the point guard’s career in wake of the Foster situation:

So far, it’s unclear whether that includes seeking endorsement offers from Nike and other companies.

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