L is for Lavar: The Big Baller Brand’s Underperformed Release of the ZO2 Prime

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Written by Jeremy Barragan

Two hundred and sixty-three.  That’s how many pairs of Lonzo Ball’s first shoe, the ZO2 Prime, Big Baller Brand managed to sell in its first day. 

Now, keep in mind the shoes retailed for $495, which is enough to buy four pairs of Steph Curry’s signature shoe with enough change to buy yourself a good meal. So if you do the math, that’s just over $130,000 in sales. For 24 hours, it actually doesn’t sound bad.  But, it is. 

To put things in perspective, Ben Simmons, the number one overall pick in last year’s draft, signed a deal with Nike for $20 million over five years.  That said, he won’t have a signature shoe his first year in the league.  But, he will have $20 million dollars from his endorsement deal.  

That wasn’t enough for the Lavar Ball.  

By now, you know him.  He’s the one that demanded a $1 Billion package shoe deal for his three sons, Lonzo, LiAngelo, and LaMelo. He is also the man behind the absurd claims that he could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one, and that his son Lonzo is better than Steph Curry.  

He’s leading the charge. And he’s waged war on Nike, Under Armour, Adidas, and more.  

It’s commendable, creating your own shoe from scratch instead of selling out to the biggest companies, all because you know your worth more than what they are offering.  

Because it is commendable doesn’t mean it’s smart.  And there are flaws in this plan.  A lot of flaws.

You’ve seen or heard of the Sway in the Morning interview with Kanye, where he asks Kanye about creating his own clothing line, saying, “Why don’t you empower yourself if you don’t need them?”

Kanye claps back, saying that he actually spent $13 Million trying to brand himself independently to create his own brand.  The rest went viral. “You ain’t got the answers man! You ain’t got the answers Sway!”

Lavar doesn’t have the answers either.

The fact behind all this is that Lavar, like Kanye, doesn’t have the infrastructure to profit enough to keep the business alive and well.  This is why Kanye joined Adidas.

Big companies like Nike and Under Armour have the resources to get the materials they need at a reasonable price, and in doing so profit enough to continue to grow their brands.

Lavar doesn’t have those resources, and aside from arrogance, this is probably a primary reason for the outrageous price of the shoe.  

We can safely say that the manufacturing costs are out of control, as the ZO2  already costs more than the most expensive Jordan Brand public release. It’s also pretty clear when you see that the price of a shoe size 14 or over costs a laughable $200 more. This is probably not good when your target audience includes basketball players, who tend to be pretty tall if you didn’t already know. According to Lavar its okay.  This business practice is sound.  Why?

He justifies his reasons for this because WhatsApp wasn’t making a profit when they sold to Facebook for $22 Billion.  Yes, Lavar compared a technological innovation to Big Baller Brand.  He thinks that Nike will buy the rights to Big Baller Brand same as Facebook bought the rights to WhatsApp.

Ultimately, there’s a difference here.  WhatsApp was a unique technological innovation.  There is nothing unique or innovative about the Big Baller Brand shoe. In fact, it’s just the opposite.  The shoe looks suspiciously similar to some of the Kobe models of the past. The logo: also stolen.

Seriously, Coach Zach Smith of Ohio State created a logo for Zone 6, the wide receivers at OSU, and Lavar ripped it off.  It is basically the same logo. Of course, there isn’t a copyright on the logo, so it’s not technically stealing. But it still creates a precedent of controversy, when there is already an excess of that to go around.

Especially when you decide to go on Twitter and call out anyone who can’t afford the shoe. That’s it Lavar, that’s the way to get people to buy them.  Insult anyone who’s not willing to buy basketball shoes that are the same price as Gucci loafers or spend more on Big Baller Brand slides than Gucci slides.

The night of the release, Lavar Tweeted “If you can't afford the ZO2'S, you're NOT a BIG BALLER!”

Well, I guess a whole lot of us aren’t Big Ballers then, and you’re not going to sell a lot of shoes.

47% of American’s can’t afford an emergency $400 expense.  That’s for emergencies.  Now, that means technically only 53% of Americans can afford your shoes.  

But why would they want to?

The players that do sell shoes are most of the time, proven.  This is why even prodigies who draw comparisons to LeBron, such as Ben Simmons, don’t get a signature shoe their first year in the league.  

Lonzo is not.  He’s an unproven commodity, and depending on where he goes; it could be a couple years before we see him reach his full potential. This is coming from me, a die-hard UCLA fan and ride-or-die Lonzo supporter and still see the flaws at this matter at hand. 

There were over eight million Twitter impressions about the shoe.  That means that out of eight million users who saw the shoes on Twitter, only 263 bought the shoes.  

Even that number is inaccurate.  Some people, like Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, bought two or more, famed rapper Slim Thug brought a pair, and so did the iconic artist The Game bought into the indie-branded sneaker as well. Regardless, the amount of sales Big Baller Brand converted in comparison to  the eight million people on Twitter who saw the shoe is not good.  It’s bad.  Embarrassingly bad.

The reveal of the shoe is the most hype it’s ever going to get.  Never again are the ZO2’s going to trend on Twitter like they did, and never again are they going to sell 263 pairs in one day.  This is the best they will ever do in terms of ZO2 sales.  The best thing for Lavar and Big Baller Brand to do would be to let this mess run its course and eventually sign with one of the major shoe companies.  That is if they’ll still have Lonzo.  

By now, Lavar has probably already upset every last one of the brands with his ridiculous demands of a $1 Billion shoe deal and/or partnering with Big Baller Brand. In fact, Nike Executive George Raveling went as far to call Lavar “the worst thing to happen to basketball in the last 100 years.”

He may not be the worst thing to happen to basketball in the last 100 years, and his electrifying sons definitely are not.  But, this may be the worst thing to happen to Lonzo’s ability to make necessary endorsement money, especially if his career doesn’t pan out as Lavar plans and that’s the real problem here.  

Visit the Big Baller Brand site here