There has been no deterring LaVar Ball from moving forward with his plans to build a Ball family empire, by keeping his Big Baller Brand company as sovereign an entity as possible. This week he and his NBA prospect son Lonzo Ball independently released their first sneaker, the ZO2, following news just a couple of weeks back, that Nike, Adidas and Under Armour had turned down Ball’s proposal to have one of them co-brand their BBB releases. And thus far the reception from the public has been considerably cold, with the main gripe being the $495 price point LaVar set for the kicks.
While most have commended Ball for having a vision to part from the endorsement model that athletes have long agreed upon with big apparel companies, a good portion of the public and quite a few in the press have been turned off by the way he’s gone about his business. Some might argue that the elder Ball’s confidence has by this point become part of Big Baller Brand’s identity, going back to his hyperbolic claims of being better than Michael Jordan. But many might have found it difficult to grasp his attitude for anything more than conceit, and some have predicted that it will rub off on the degree to which league and industry stakeholders will allow Lonzo to navigate his early years in the NBA.
It’s been theorized that the UCLA star’s father might have already hurt his draft standing with some teams, and such pundits as Stephen A. Smith believe that LaVar might have left a good 4-5 year endorsement deal worth up to $15 million on the table. Smith also gauges that by setting the price of the ZO2’s so high, he may have alienated a substantive demographic of consumers who find it hard enough to put out for a pair of Jordan’s or Yeezy’s. And despite all of that criticism, LaVar has not only shown himself to be unshaken, he has doubled down, and made it clear that he is losing no sleep over how people feel.
“I liked the way it sounds. You see, when you are your own owner, you can come up with any price you want,” LaVar said during an appearance on The Dan Le Batard Show on Friday, May 5. He said that he figured $495 is what the sneaker is worth, considering the significance of it being the first time a player has ever come in the game with their very own shoe, that they designed, and are capitalizing off of to the degree the Balls would be. “Let Nike and Adidas and Under Armour — they battling below me. They’ll go ahead and put all their stuff in Foot Locker. I’m better than them. I’m a step above,” he said, referring to the ZO2 as a “premium” shoe.