If you’re wondering what the Big Baller Brand Challenge actually is, don’t worry — you aren’t the only one. It really came out of nowhere.
Last week, LaVar Ball and Big Baller Brand announced that LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball would be making their debuts for their Lithuanian Club Prienu Vytautas in the Big Baller Brand Challenge, per LaVar Ball’s request. The club accepted.
The challenge is a series of five friendly matchups between Prienu Vytautas and teams from across Lithuania where the Ball brothers would be getting “extensive” playing time, according to a report from ESPN. Things got underway Tuesday with a friendly against the Zalgiris reserve team, and it was as ridiculous as you think.
The court was covered with Big Baller Brand logos.
The revamped court here in Prienai, Lithuania for the debuts of LaMelo and LiAngelo Ball. Will be live on Facebook at 1:30 ET. pic.twitter.com/gGeLkNdYIm— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) January 9, 2018
Even the officials were putting on for the brand.
There’s even a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to this thing!
There were 1.6 million people watching the inaugural game through Facebook. No, you’re not dreaming — I promise. It’s all real.
This is a culmination of the hype that has been building surrounding LaMelo and LiAngelo Ball for months. Without them, no one is checking for this game. No one signed up to watch Kevin Pangos or Aaron White — they wanted to finally see the Ball brothers in action.
The team shifted its entire season around to make room for the Ball brothers. The team is skipping the Baltic Basketball League season to participate in the Big Baller Brand Challenge from Jan. 9 to Jan. 28. The team knew exactly what it was doing when it signed up for this, and it seems to be leaning into it.
It’s a media circus, but the game was still fun. There were cool no-look passes off long outlets.
There were hilariously blown layups.
LiAngelo steals, LiAngelo blows great opportunity. pic.twitter.com/i0oTAGRobv— LaRob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) January 9, 2018
And crazy tough finishes.
It wasn’t always good, but it was compelling. And that has been the Ball family’s strategy from the beginning. We saw it work before, and now it’s working again and LaVar Ball is here for it.
But, wait, the club pulled out of their own league for this?
Not exactly. While it won’t be participating in the Baltic Basketball League, the team will still be able to participate in the Lithuanian Basketball League as it normally would. The Ball brothers aren’t likely to get as much playing time in that league but will still be part of the team.
The friendly games they participate in with the Big Baller Brand Challenge won’t affect the team’s standing in the Lithuanian Basketball League. The team is generating revenue through the Ball family while also maintaining its standing. It’s a win-win for them.
Why is the club doing so much for the Ball family?
For Vytautas, The Baltic Basketball League is less important than the Lithuanian Basketball League. LiAngelo and LaMelo would have played in the Baltic Basketball League, but the team wasn’t able to get the league to partner with Facebook to broadcast those games. The Big Baller Brand Challenge is partnered with Facebook, which allows the Ball brothers’ games to be broadcasted through Facebook live.
It’s all about the revenue for the team, according to ESPN.
A source told ESPN that Prienu Vytautas expects the Ball brothers to generate about 100,000 euros ($120,000) in revenue for the team, including an undisclosed amount that Facebook is paying to show the Big Baller Brand Challenge games.
That makes sense — it plays in a small town with only 10,000 people. The team hasn’t practiced and doesn’t have a general manager because of its financial struggles, according to an ESPN report. It needs money, and here was an opportunity.
Like it or not, the Ball family is here and isn’t going away anytime soon
They’ve still got four more games to play between now and the end of the month, so we’ll be seeing plenty of them. This whole scenario is ridiculous when you think about it.
A team signed two teenagers who may or may not be very good, changed its own schedule for those teenagers and explicitly promised to play those teenagers in a new friendly competition created by those teenagers’ father. We’ve never seen this before and will probably never see it again.
But as insane as this is, it’s also working. This was Big Baller Brand finding the perfect situation to make the Ball brothers pop. They found the perfect team in the perfect league and played everything just right.
I’m not sure how much of this is genius and how much of this is silly. But I’ll be here to watch every moment and, honestly, you probably will be too.