Often it’s the NBA star players who debut a shoe brand. Michael Jordan and Lebron James did it with Nike, Kobe released a shoe with Adidas before switching to a partnership with Nike, and Steph Curry debuted a shoe produced by Under Armour. But Lonzo Ball, UCLA’s breakout point guard this past season, has already debuted his independently produced shoe, the ZO2: Prime and he isn’t even in the NBA yet.
The ZO2: Prime costs $495 dollars, more than triple the price of Michael Jordan’s debut shoe, which was retailed for $145 (adjusted for inflation) in 1985. Due to the expensive price tag, the reactions have been mixed.
Mike Brown, associate head coach for the Golden State Warriors, was asked during a post-game conference if he would purchase the shoes for his kids from “an unproven NBA player.”
Brown quickly responded to the question by bursting out into laughter before simply stating “no” and asking for “any other questions” in a video of the post-conference posted on ESPN’s official instagram.
According to Bleacher Report, a site dedicated to sports, NBA Rookies “don’t love the shoe” but rather “the idea behind them” such as former guard for Xavier University, Edmond Sumner who describes how the shoe “isn’t horrible” but that it’s “better than some sneakers” that are being sold currently.
Shaquille O’Neal, NBA Hall of Famer, took to twitter to comment on the price directed towards Lonzo Ball’s father, Lavar Ball, saying “ Hey @Lavarbigballer real big baller brands don’t over charge kids for shoes.”
Lavar Ball, owner and creator of Big Baller Brand, has played a major role in helping to promote his son Lonzo Ball’s future career. Lonzo Ball’s debut shoe, the ZO 2: Prime is produced under his father’s independent brand Big Baller Brand, often seen with the logo “BBB”.
According to ESPN, Nike, Under Armour and Adidas all denied endorsement for Lonzo Ball due to his controversial father Lavar Ball insisting the major companies also partner with his independent brand.
“We’ve said from the beginning, we aren’t looking for an endorsement deal,” Lavar Ball described to ESPN, “We’re looking for co-branding, a true partner.”
Denying a potential top NBA draft pick shoe endorsement is a first in modern-day history for the three companies, according to ESPN.
After the rejection of the shoe prototype from the companies, the Ball family decided to go forward with the shoe that the BBB company claiming “The Sports World is Forever Changed.”