If the Big Baller Brand was on life support, Lonzo Ball may have just pulled the plug.
Before being drafted No. 2 overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017, Ball was already a polarizing figure in the basketball world due to his father LaVar’s outlandish claims and predictions. Things reached a new level when, before Lonzo was even drafted, the Big Baller Brand released his signature shoe, the ZO2. Some lauded the Ball family for taking the power away from traditional apparel brands and doing it on their own, but the $495 price tag and LaVar’s insistence that the shoe was nothing more than “stitching and glue,” raised eyebrows and cultivated doubters.
Turns out, they probably should have added a few more ingredients to make the shoes more sturdy.
“Them ZO2s I was playing in, they was not ready,” Ball said. “No one knows this, but D-Mo (Ball’s manager Darren Moore) had a backpack, and he had like an extra four pairs of shoes in there, because I had to switch them every quarter because they would just rip. … I’m on the phone, this is when Alan [Foster] was running everything, I’m like, ‘Yo, I’m not playing in them shoes. Like, I don’t care bro.’ He’s like, ‘Alright, just switch every brand every game.’ I was like, ‘Alright, cool.’ … If you literally had my shoes from those games, they just, like, exploded, bro.”
The “Alan” to which Ball refers is Gregory Alan Foster, whom Lonzo and the Big Baller Brand filed a lawsuit against in April, alleging fraud and breach of fiduciary duties.
In the podcast, Ball went on to suggest that his poor performance was a result of wearing his signature sneakers.
“We went so far with it, I was like ‘Cool, I can get a quarter in, but that’s it. We’ve got to switch them every quarter.’ And it’s crazy, right when I switched my shoes, then all of a sudden magically I got good again,” Ball said.
There was speculation that Ball’s footwear could have led to some of the injury problems he’s faced over the first two years, and it appears that he at least partially shares that opinion. As for the Big Baller Brand, it’s apparently not dead yet — LaVar recently said the company plans to release a lifestyle brand this fall in addition to its performance line.
That’s all well and good, but when the signature face of your brand (who’s also your son) comes out and talks about how horrible the product is, that can’t bode well for the future of the company.