A quick glance at the numbers surrounding the signing of LaMelo Ball to the Illawarra Hawks gives you an understanding of its magnitude.
One of the brightest young basketball prospects in the United States caused shockwaves around the globe earlier this month by declaring he was coming to spend a season with the Hawks in the National Basketball League before nominating for the NBA Draft next year.
There are lots of numbers floating about the impact. Yet perhaps the most amazing was demonstrated in the league putting up a limited sale of Ball-branded Hawks jerseys the day after the announcement. They sold out in 24 hours. And they were last season's leftover stock.
With 600 sold at $90 a pop, that's a $54,000 earn for the league right there in a day. Simply by printing the word 'Ball' on the back of the jersey. A day. The NBL's motto is #SeeIncredible. Now that's incredible. A league official this week confirmed never has any NBL jersey sold at that rate before. He confirmed Sydney King star Andrew Bogut would be next best, but was not in the same ball park. Pun intended.
And this is a 17-year-old kid who is a star junior but yet to test his skills in such a league. Most of that money would have gone to the NBL as it was an NBL sale, but given the money league owner Larry Kestelman puts in no-one should be upset with that.
Here's some other stats to consider. The league estimates the LaMelo Ball announcement had a reach of 1.6 billion. Billion. On the day of the announcement, June 18, the NBL's website had 50,000 new users who had never visited its website before.
For the record, the Illawarra Mercury announced it the day before. Just saying.
On social media, the NBL's Instagram grew by 10,000 the announcement, had 450,000 profile visits and 2.6 million post impressions while reaching 488,000 accounts. LaMelo already has the top five NBL Instagram posts of all-time in terms of likes and engagement and he hasn't played a single game.
Website Infuencerfee.com values a single instagram post by the 17-year-old at US$10,298.00 (AU$14844.57). he has 4.5 million Instagram followers.
Our Group Digital Marketing Specialist Ben Speer took a look at the impact of the announcement on the worldwide web and found some interesting things including the international interest.
In the same week three of the top five searches related to the Illawarra were related to the announcement "LaMelo Ball" was the top performer with "Illawarra Hawks" rising 1300 per cent and "NBL" rising 600 per cent.
In searches related to NBL, "Illawarra Hawks", "LaMelo Ball" and "LaMelo Ball NBL" all ranked in the top five.
LaMelo's signing provides the Illawarra Hawks and our region with the opportunity of a lifetime. We need to capitalise it.
Let's not drop the Ball.
Julian O'Brien is the editor of the Illawarra Mercury and a passionate Hawkhead