The launch of Lonzo Ball’s signature shoe has caused many people to be curious about the Big Baller Brand, a company founded by the Ball family. Lonzo’s father, LaVar Ball, has become the face of the company. After shopping the idea of a co-branding partnership to Under Armour, Nike and Adidas, the family opted to remain independent.
While the $495 price tag created understandable sticker shock across the internet, what has been lost is whether this model could prove to be viable for athletes in the future.
We have seen similar examples in the music industry where artist like Chance the Rapper have leveraged their independence for their own benefit and profitability. The shoe may be overpriced but the price tag is giving the company free publicity as it became a subject on social media, television and sports talk radio.
The bigger question for Lonzo to consider is whether teams will see this along with his father’s willingness to talk will hurt his draft stock come June. Lonzo is expected to be one of the top two selections in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Learn more about the family business creating so much controversy.
1. Lonzo Ball’s First Signature Shoe, the ZO2 Prime, Has a $495 Price Tag
One word used by the Ball family to describe the Big Baller Brand is independence. According to SLAM, Lonzo will be the first player to enter the NBA Draft with his own independently made shoe. The initial signature shoe launch for Lonzo had three different purchase options.
Fans could purchase the ZO2 shoes for $495. The next step up is the ZO2 Wet for $995. This includes an autographed edition of the signature shoe enclosed in a glass box with LED lights.
2. LaVar Ball Met With Nike, Adidas & Under Armour to Attempt to Form a Co-Brand But Negotiations Fell Through
The Big Baller Brand story has become one of the most unique in sport business. LaVar’s original idea was to try to partner with either Nike, Adidas or Under Armour similar to what Jordan Brand has become for Nike. However, this did not come to fruition after negotiations fell through. LaVar spoke with ESPN about why the company decided to remain independent.
“We’ve said from the beginning, we aren’t looking for an endorsement deal,” LaVar told ESPN. “We’re looking for co-branding, a true partner. But they’re not ready for that because they’re not used to that model. But hey, the taxi industry wasn’t ready for Uber, either.”
LaVar also noted that he has had a concept for their signature shoe “since my boys were born.”
3. Big Baller Brand Was Started in 2016 While Lonzo Was Attending UCLA
While it did not have the notoriety it has today with Lonzo Ball heading to the NBA, Big Baller Brand was founded by the Ball family in 2016. The price points on the merchandise have consistently been higher than other sports apparel companies.
BIG BALLER BRAND is a Lifestyle Apparel company founded on core family values, and inspired by the 3 Ball brothers from Chino Hills, California. Lonzo, LiAngelo, and LaMelo Ball are basketball players with Championship pedigree. We are always striving for excellence through strong work ethic, passion, and commitment to win as a team. Our company goal and purpose is to deliver the same qualities into the brand. We are dedicated to produce the highest quality products to build brand loyalty.
Our mission is to provide a clothing line that is a reflection of what every Big Baller in the world expresses through what they wear. Trust Big Baller Brand as a Lifestyle for the latest in apparel fashion and design for any occasion. Welcome to our family.
4. The Company Sold $157,685 Worth of Shoes on the First Day They Were Available
Nicekicks.com tracked the initial sales of the ZO2’s on the launch day and found the company sold 210 pairs of shoes along with 53 pairs of the special edition autographed shoes. After doing the math, Nice Kicks estimated Big Baller Brand sold $157,685 worth of shoes on the first day.
Given its independent status, this is a somewhat impressive number for the first day. The cost of production for Big Baller Brand is likely higher given they are not able to mass produce shoes like the big three shoe companies. The price point is also higher which should more than cover the higher cost of production. Despite the public backlash over the shoe price, it looks like people are purchasing them.
5. Shaq Called Out LaVar on Twitter for the Price of the Shoes But Other Athletes Have Supported Lonzo
Count Shaquille O’Neal as one of the critics of Lonzo’s $495 shoes. “Hey @Lavarbigballer real big baller brands don’t over charge kids for shoes,” Shaq tweeted.
He went on to explain to FOX Sports why the shoe has such a high price tag.
The fact that people are losing sight – they’re looking at the price tag and not understanding that Lonzo’s shoe is symbolic. That comes with a price tag. Symbolic as he’s the first one ever to come in here without even playing a game and have his own brand. It’s not just a shoe you just go in a store or something like that and you say, ‘You know what, let me get the Kyrie, the LeBron… by the way, throw in the ZO2…I think that’s [$495] what the shoe is worth.
SLAM Magazine explains the company is targeting a market between sports apparel and luxury brands.
“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,” SLAM writes.
Lonzo’s shoe has also gotten support from athletes like Michael Bennett and Chad Johnson.