It can’t be the shoes, right?
Lonzo Ball’s Big Baller Brand sneakers have caused as much media buzz as his actual game, mostly because his father, LaVar, has relentlessly hyped up the kicks and defended their $495 price tag. And even if we respect the hustle on some level, it’s unclear just how successful the kicks have been so far or how many pairs of special Fourth of July Edition BBB sneakers actually sold over the holiday weekend. But while his dad has been participating in WWE fights and talking the talk, Lonzo himself has been playing in the NBA Summer League, doing his best to showcase his abilities and live up to the promise of being the #2 overall pick in this year’s draft.
So far, his stat lines have been mediocre at best, and though it’s just Summer League, his lackluster play has been enough to at least raise eyebrows among the Lakers’ faithful fans. But last night, Lonzo had his best game so far, putting up a big stat line of 36 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds, and five steals. And he did it all while wearing a pair of Nike Kobe ADs.
We all remember the classic Spike Lee–directed Air Jordan commercial for its tagline, “It’s gotta be the shoes!” Similarly, Lonzo’s latest performance raises the question “So, is it the shoes?” Now, it’s hard to take much away from one game, and it’s possible that Lonzo Ball simply had his best game so far because he wanted to impress LeBron James, who was in the crowd (in all likelihood sizing up his future competition). Additionally, King James, who is never one to pass up an opportunity to be Offseason Petty™, made sure to share the news that Ball was wearing Nikes on Instagram.
Still, the fact that Ball wore Nikes at all, after all of the talk of shunning Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour to do things the “independent” way, is odd. In response to all the controversy, Ball downplayed the symbolism by saying, “At BBB, you can play in what you want. I already played in both of my shoes, might as well get the ‘Mamba Mentality’ going. Put ’em on, and it worked out tonight.” Maybe he should stick with the “Mamba Mentality” until he can establish what kind of winning tradition the Big Baller Brand actually represents in the NBA.
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