(AllHipHop Editorial) As we prepare ourselves to watch the 2017 NBA Finals, we will get adorned in either our LeBron or Steph Curry jersey, with the sneakers to match, Nike or Under Armour, respectively. More than likely, we’ll be eating wings and pizza, drinking a few beers while cheering or crying aloud at our mounted television screen as if our favorite players can hear our voices. I’m certain that we’ll be entertained. Hell, some of us may even win a couple of dollars from our wagers on the games. But ultimately, I ask, who will be the biggest winners? To your dismay, if you said “the players who win the championship” I would have to strongly disagree with you. Ultimately, the biggest winners are the owners. Granted, the players who earn large sums of money for partaking in a professional sport that many have dreamed and aspired to do since childhood, should relish the opportunity to play on the biggest stage. So by no means am I calling them “losers,” but certainly, from a business perspective, they are not the biggest winners.
Who are the biggest winners you ask? Well I’ll surmise that it’s the network owners who have the rights to air the game on their station, while profiting by selling advertisement space. The owners of the teams and arenas who are selling tickets, merchandise, food and drinks. And lastly, the owners of the sports apparel companies whose attire is being worn, marketed and sold by the players themselves.
In the first part of my editorial entitled, “This Is About More Than Shoes,” you’ll recall that I said that the attempt to attack and demonize LaVar Ball’s character was of greater magnitude than imaginable. They weren’t just trying to tear him down as a black dad, they were also trying to kill his efforts of creating, selling and profiting from his own brand. Prompting me to pose the question, “who should profit more from your brand than you?”
By now, we all know that LaVar Ball created his own Big Baller Brand which he wanted to partner with one of the big three sports apparel companies (Nike, Adidas, Under Armour) to sell his own merchandise. Rather than to potentially have his son, Lonzo Ball, a prospected top 3 2017 NBA Lottery Pick, just sign an endorsement deal. Many folks said, “Why would you try to sell your own shoes and apparel instead of being paid to endorse an established brand? That’s stupid!” Another comment I heard was, “Who would pay an unproven talent a billion dollars to be associated with their brand? That’s stupid!” Leading me to conclude, I don’t think people truly understand the disparity between the amount of revenue generated in the sports apparel business and the amount of endorsement dollars paid to the individuals hawking their products.
And it’s apparent that we don’t differentiate the importance of being an employer versus being an employee.
In 2016 the sports apparel industry generated $158 billion dollars. In 2017 it’s estimated that the industry will amass a total of $165 billion dollars. The same industry is projected to earn $171 billion dollars in the year 2018. And by 2020, Allied Market Research projects that the world sports apparel industry will garner $184.6 billion dollars. Key companies benefiting greatly from the worldwide consumption of sports apparel are Adidas AG, Nike Inc., and Under Armour. It’s been reported that last year Nike Inc. earned $32.4 billion dollars in revenue, Adidas amassed $19.291 billion, and Under Armour pocketed $4.8 billion.
The present day two biggest individual “earners” for Nike, not named Cristiano Ronaldo, are Michael Jordan and LeBron James. For fiscal year 2016, the Jordan Brand brought in a whopping $2.8 billion in revenue and LeBron James products generated roughly $350 million. It’s been reported that last year Michael Jordan Nike endorsement deal paid him $66 million dollars and LeBron James was paid $20 million dollars. Now of course, $66 million and $20 million aren’t small numbers to scoff at. But relatively speaking, in proportion to the amount of money that their individual brands generated for Nike Inc. alone, LeBron made about 6% and Jordan was given less than 3% of the total amount of revenue attributed to them. What’s the point? Here’s my point.
Phil Knight, the founder of Nike is a billionaire 25 times. Kevin Plank, the founder of Under Armour is worth about $2 billion dollars and counting. Adidas is no longer owned by Adi Dassler’s family, but his creation built generational wealth and a legacy to which his family is still benefiting from. When will we begin to see the bigger picture? Instead of focusing on how to just “secure a bag,” let’s create, build and maintain ownership of a product that will allow us, our families and community to best capitalize off of our own gifts for many years to come. Can you imagine how much more money LeBron James could possibly generate for himself, his family and his community if he decided to do what LaVar Ball is doing with Big Baller Brand? Do you know that Michael Jordan doesn’t own any of the Jordan Brand patents and designs that he has made so popular worldwide? Can you imagine if Michael Jordan owned his own brand and decided to do what LaVar Ball is being laughed at and ridiculed for attempting to accomplish? It’s a must that we began to truly understand the significance of ownership.
The ideal objective is to build and sustain wealth for your family through ownership. You want to place yourself in the best position possible to pass along to the next generation all that was given to you, in addition to everything that you were able to accumulate on your own. In order to have something of great substance to give, you have to be willing to take calculated risk. Also like LaVar Ball, you have to be able to turn down paychecks from an individual who is willing just to employ you, rather than partner with you, because you understand your true value. I’ve said it before and I will continuously say it, his efforts should be commended and people should be inspired to do exactly what he’s doing.
And that is: Bet On Yourself!