When Nike, adidas and Under Armour announced they were no longer in negotiations with The Ball Boys for a signature shoe for Lonzo, LaVar Ball received a lot of criticism for his demands and his take it or leave it attitude towards the traditional shoe powerhouses. Most people felt he was leaving too much money on the table and as a businessman he should learn to crawl before he walks.
LaVar warned us from the jump that the family wasn’t interested in a standard endorsement deal and was seeking co-branding opportunities. Most heads thought that was bravado and hyperbolic banter from a guy seeking his six minutes of fame off of his son's accomplishments.
It appeared as if LaVar had dropped the ball.
However, after months of speculation, Big Baller Brand finally dropped the bomb LaVar said was coming, and Lonzo will become the first player to have his own independently made signature shoe entering the NBA Draft.
BBB tells SLAM that designs and prototypes for Lonzo’s first signature shoe—the ZO2—had been in the works for the past few months, and if the major shoe companies weren’t willing to cut them in on the deal, Lonzo was always prepared to go the independent route.
It’s definitely a barrier-breaking moment as far as sneakers and shoe deals go, but the jury is out on how successful selling the sneakers will be.
They are not the most dopely-designed pair of kicks and they come with a Kardashian-like $495 price tag. When Stephon Marbury and Shaq made their sneakers, affordability and accountability to the youth figured into the marketing plan.
Home boy your paying 200 for Jordan's and they make them for 5 dollars. The shoes are made in China in the same places. Stay calm we coming!— I AM PEACE STAR (@StarburyMarbury) October 4, 2015
The ZO2 prices are pretty steep for a guy who hasn’t even been drafted yet and isn’t a guaranteed No. 1 pick.
Some former players and members of the signature sneaker club already have a problem with the price as it relates to affordability for kids, especially those in the hood.
That’s a good point though. Who’s going to be able to buy these kixx?
Slam says, “BBB is aiming for Lonzo’s signature sneaker to tap into a new market—above the athletic performance kicks from the likes of Nike, Jordan, adidas and Under Armour, but below the high-end designer shoes of Gucci, Prada or Louis Vuitton. The ZO2 Prime comes with a $495 price tag.
There is also a limited ZO2 WET Autographs edition, which will come in a key-locked glass box with a floor mirror, LED lights and an autograph from the Chino Hills prodigy himself. It will cost $995.”
LaVar isn't trying to hear all of that and let the world know in his recent Tweet that he's in it for the greenbacks, not social causes.
Big Baller's loose! If you can't afford the ZO2'S, you're NOT a BIG BALLER! 💰— Lavar Ball (@Lavarbigballer) May 4, 2017
It’s a power move no doubt, but how the hood embraces the shoe will determine if they are a novelty that can only be purchased by a certain demographic of people or a game-changing come up for LaVar Ball, a guy who everyone thought was loud and obnoxious, but in actuality possesses a business acumen and audacity that is commendably capitalistic and courageous.
You have to respect LaVar Ball’s gangster. Even if this initial venture fails, if Lonzo achieves the success his dad has predicted they can always double back with the sneaker companies once Lonzo's lighting it up in the NBA. His stock and marketability will only rise if he delivers the goods as an NBA rookie.
Gun-to-head, I'm choosing the ZO2 Slides. Not much risk with rocking those. For now, the sneakers themselves look like something you buy for your son’s birthday and keep them enclosed in a case up on the mantle.
& Lastly, The ZO2 Slide. pic.twitter.com/gyzHscfA3w— Big Baller Brand (@bigballerbrand) May 4, 2017
But if we know anything about The Ball Family, this is just the beginning.