Lonzo Ball hasn't even joined the NBA yet, but his sneakers are already making waves for their astronomical price tag. And more recently, a new absurd claim from his outspoken father LaVar Ball.
The elder Ball recently unveiled the family's Big Baller Brand. Ball designed the sneakers for his son, who is expected to be a top 3 draft pick at the upcoming NBA draft. The main "Z02" pair, featuring "microfiber python texture," sells for $495, and a pair autographed by the undrafted former UCLA Bruin sells for $995.
"Real big baller brands don't over charge kids for shoes," Shaquille O'Neal tweeted at LaVar Baller, who later tweeted, If you can't afford the ZO2'S, you're NOT a BIG BALLER!"
Expensive shoes shilled by famous basketball players are nothing new, of course. Nike's (NKE - Get Report) Air Jordan line, backed by Michael Jordan, sold pairs to the general public with a price tag of up to $400, according to ESPN. Under Armour (UA - Get Report) is grappling with tepid sales of its Steph Curry shoes, but the latest UA ArchiTech Futurist cost a cool $300.
According to Ball (see new clip below), even the mighty Jordan didn't deserve a $495 sneaker.
Ball said Michael
Jordan couldn't command as much for his shoe, "because he ain't Lonzo Ball, that's why. Did he have his own brand coming in? It's a new era called the Ball era."
LaVar Ball told ESPN that he and Lonzo were going alone because Nike, Under Armour and Adidas had all passed on endorsing Lonzo, with the companies saying LaVar already had a shoe prototype ready and wanted them to license the Big Baller Brand instead of a conventional endorsement deal.
"They're not ready for that because they're not used to that model," he said. "But hey, the taxi industry wasn't ready for Uber, either."
In a subsequent ESPN Radio interview, LaVar Ball defended the shoes' cost, arguing that that's what they're worth.
"When you are your own owner you can come up with any price you want," he said, adding, "Prada and Gucci is selling theirs for what they want. Ours is better than that. It feels better.
Updated from May 5 with new details.