Lonzo and LaVar Ball were not bluffing when they threatened to make their own signature shoe if the big shoe companies like Nike, adidas, and Under Armour passed on going into business with them on Big Baller Brand, not just a typical rookie shoe deal. On Thursday, Ball unveiled the “ZO2 Prime,” Big Baller Brand’s first signature shoe.
The shoe doesn’t look that bad, we’ve seen worse offerings in recent years form the major shoe companies, and boasts features that seem to compete with the big boys of basketball shoe production. The details of the shoe design, via SLAM, are that it has a “python microfiber texture, patent leather heel logos and a gel outsole with a hand-painted DeLorean finish.” I don’t know what python texture is, but it looks pretty comfortable.
As many have pointed out, the shoes look an awful lot like the very popular Nike Kobe’s, which have held pretty much the same low-top look for five years. It’s an understandable model to follow, as they are the premier low-top sneaker in the NBA, but there’s one significant problem with the ZO2.
The price of the shoe is far more outrageous than anyone could have predicted. It was reported initially that the shoe would be in the $200 range, which would put it at the top end of signature hoops shoes. However, the ZO2 Prime will cost an insane $495, with an “autograph” collection available for pre-order that costs $995. If you are so moved to spend that much on this shoe, you can pre-order them at BigBallerBrand.com right now — also, buyer beware, the shoes (autograph or regular) have a “no refunds or exchanges” policy.
The SLAM profile of the shoe says they’re targeting an audience above Jordan, Nike, and adidas and looking to attract the high-end fashion audience with this shoe. That is, if nothing else, a bold strategy, but it seems like one that’s doomed to fail. Maybe the Balls will defy the odds of launching a standalone shoe and apparel company and succeed, but a lot of that success will ride on whether Lonzo can become the NBA star he’s proclaimed to be. No one’s spending $50, much less $500, on a scrub’s shoes.
Most athlete’s that have gone independent to create their own shoes have gone the opposite direction of Big Baller Brand. Shaq shoes, Starbury’s, and others have looked to corner the market that can’t afford a $100 pair of sneakers. The Balls are saying, what about the people that want to hoop in their Gucci sweatsuit?
Maybe there are enough people out there that want that to make it work. Maybe Lonzo becomes the NBA’s next superstar and starts a basketball shoe revolution in the process. You and I might be skeptical, but Big Baller Brand, a company built on hype and “what if,” is banking on it.