Lonzo Ball Drops $495 Shoe, Which Is Apparently The Point

Beneath the bullshit, there seems to be an actual strategy here.

May 4 2017, 9:16pm

Photo By Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Have you ever thought to yourself, I need basketball shoes that I can wear on the court, but are also comfortable enough to wear while I bus tables at my local Chili's?

Perhaps you have you then mused, Oh hell yes, I will absolutely purchase these for double cost if they come packaged in a locked box with a floor mirror and LED lights.

For good measure, do you like dropping two bills on flip flops?

If you are down with any or all of these things, then my friend, today is your day: Lonzo Ball finally has a shoe deal. And not just any shoe deal, of course.

By now, you are probably aware that Ball had been turned down by all of Adidas, Nike, and Under Armour. So his–and more likely, his father LaVar's–recourse, as first reported by SLAM, was to create their own under the family's Big Baller Brand. The ZO2, as the shoe is called, is a legitimately compelling gambit on its own, a wager that it is more lucrative for an athlete to own a personal brand outright and build it through his own means rather than sign a deal with an established powerhouse for relative pennies on the dollar. Your personal feelings on LaVar Ball notwithstanding, it's an avenue worth exploring and, potentially, a very viable one.

Here's where the lunacy sets in: The ZO2 is set to retail for $495. This is not a joke.

For context, here's what that equates to in the basketball shoe world.

They look like this:

But wait, there's more! Should you decide that you need a collector's edition of these "Afternoon shift at the local movie theater"-ass kicks, you can purchase them along with that aforementioned special box and an autograph from Lonzo Ball for $985. I don't even have a joke for that.

And, somehow, I've yet to arrive at the best part, which is this:

Humor aside, there is a thread to follow in here, too. The Balls are gambling that athletic-wear can sell and thrive at a price point commensurate to luxury brand clothing, despite the fact that they are worn in totally opposite environments. It's essentially the inverse of Stephon Marbury's "Starbury" line, which retails for $14.95 and operates under the maxim "The people's brand." Just about anyone can purchase them, but the mass appeal diluted the brand and sales fell flat.

Meanwhile, a very small subset will be able to afford the ZO2s. Will that make them more lucrative, or a hilarious overestimate of what people might reasonably buy? It's actual differentiation within a mostly copycat industry, which makes all of it worth watching. At the very least, everyone is talking about these shoes.

Probably not buying them, though. Much better players sell shoes that retail for far less. And if you need something to wear during work at the hospital, just go to Payless and buy some damn Keds.