LaVar Ball is the father of three young basketball players. The oldest son is Lonzo, who just finished his freshman season at UCLA. The middle son LiAngelo just finished his senior season at Chino Hills High School in California. He plays with the youngest son, LaMelo, who was a freshman this past season. Having a father in a young man’s life is great and LaVar is definitely that, sometimes to a fault. He has gained popularity from his statements of, “If Charles [Barkley] thought like me, maybe he’d win a championship.” Then there was the infamous quote of, “Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one.” Say what?! Apparently, he was talking about Michael B. Jordan, the actor. His brandish and outlandish quotes got him the press and publicity he needed. Now he could turn that media frenzy to his family business and the “Big Baller Brand (BBB)”.
The business would begin with BBB shirts and apparel that he and his sons would begin wearing. Nothing wrong with marketing and branding yourself. He was trying to make it a household name. His next brand would be a shoe featuring his oldest son, Lonzo. LaVar attempted to gain a partnership with Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour. Those companies were not interested, but maybe would have considered a shoe deal. It is more likely for this to have taken place, since Lonzo is predicted to be one of the top three guys taken in the NBA draft. However, pops wanted the BBB to be exclusive. He proceeds to come out with a shoe devoid of the big name corporations. Again, another excellent idea and business move. The shoe would be called the ZO2. It’s a good looking shoe, even though it looks like a knockoff of Kobe Bryant’s. Then comes the price tag – $495. *Spits out my water*. Kendrick Lamar’s new song begins to ring in my head – Be Humble. Sit Down. If you wear a size bigger than normal, probably a 14 or above, then that will be $695. If you want an autographed pair, that will cost $995. Oh, and do not forget to get a pair of the sandals, excuse me “slides,” for $220.
LaVar has received heavy and heated criticism for the price of shoe. One such person is Shaquille O’Neal who expressed that the shoe be at a price point for kids to buy. LaVar responded back, “Just like Shaq was saying, ‘Oh, LaVar, you need to make it for the kids!’ No, that’s your lane, you make it for them. They’ve got two lanes they can come in. He makes his shoe, his Shaq Attack. How come his son don’t wear it? It’s a family thing. See, my son will wear my shoe. It’s a family thing. I’m giving him a choice. He can wear any shoe he wants, but why wouldn’t he want to wear something that’s your own?” Ok, I’ll give LaVar a fair comeback for that. If the shoe wasn’t at an outrageous price, would we be talking about it? Would it garner that publicity that it is, no. Then came the Tweet heard round the world, “If you can’t afford the ZO2’s, you’re NOT a BIG BALLER!” That’s when just about everyone wanted him to just stop talking period.
LaVar was apparently prepared for this because he stated in an interview, “I expected this reaction. 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. Nobody’s ever done that. So if I sell 50 shoes, who cares? It’s a family thing. It’s for the family, I make them all for Lonzo. Lonzo has his own shoe. 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.’ ZO2s mean something. That’s why the price tag is like that. That’s what the shoe’s worth. I bet you not one of those guys that I named sat in the room for the price of the shoe. ‘We just give you the shoe and here you go.’”
According to the first 24 hours of shoe sales, approximately 263 sold. Of those, 210 were the regular version, and 53 being the special autographed version. That would be about $150,000. That is not bad for the first day, unless you are LaVar. He wants the sales to be in the millions. Maybe after a couple months it will. His business model is to get celebrities, athletes, entertainers, or people who want to have something that no one has, to buy the shoe. I hope for his sake that he reaches that, because the love and support that a father gives his child is immeasurable. It cannot be quantified. I applaud LaVar for doing that with all his sons. I salute him on providing for family in particularly his sons. He is leaving his sons with a business that they can run for the rest of their lives. The only thing, they must live up to the hype that he has created. They must now put in the work and the effort to support the family business. They must prove that the brand is worth the price. They must BALL!