2017 Las Vegas Summer League Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks

Ethan Miller

Which begs the question: what does this all mean for BBB?

Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball had a few great games on the court last week, but he made headlines not for his skills, but for opting to wear other major sneaker brands’ kicks—namely the Nike Kobe AD, Adidas Harden, Under Armour Curry 4, and Air Jordan 31—over his own Big Baller Brand Z02s. He spun the story to his advantage by claiming that owning his own sneaker label gives him the freedom to wear whatever kicks he wants, when he wants to. But last week, Ball was giving free promotion to Nike, Adidas, and UA by wearing their sneakers—and it seems that was the entire point. When asked by ESPN’s Cassidy Hubarth if his intentions were to start a bidding war for his feet when he replied, “Something like that.”

Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour all reportedly refused to ink a deal with Lonzo Ball after his father Lavar made what they considered to be unreasonable demands during early negotiations. After reportedly turning down a $10 million dollar deal from one of the three brands, Lavar then went public with the info that Lonzo Ball’s sneaker contract asking price had ballooned to $3 billion dollars, which would make it the most lucrative deal in sneaker history (and also has a less of a chance of actually happening than Lavar besting Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one). A $3 billon asking price is still absurd, but Lavar may have now reconsidered if this “bidding war” is in fact true.

All of this also makes us wonder if Ball ever had genuine intentions of making Big Baller Brand sneakers work or if it was all simply a marketing ploy to create enough interest around his son to court a new sneaker contract. We don’t imagine that Nike, Adidas, or UA would waiver on the idea that should he sign with them, he’d no longer be allowed to wear his Z02s or potentially any BBB merchandise. That would be a big (deadly even) blow to the visibility of the Big Baller Brand, unless the focus of the brand becomes Lonzo’s younger brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo.

Big Baller Brand’s $495 kicks (and the signed-by-Lonzo $995 versions) were always a tough sell, but we kind of liked the idea of a rookie shunning the traditional sneaker contract system in favor of his own label. In today’s social media age, brands often don’t have to rely traditional advertising and marketing to get popular, and Big Baller Brand—despite its clunky name—could have set the indy blueprint for future NBA stars. That said, the solo route might still be Ball’s only option should Nike, Adidas, or Under Amour still not show any interest in singing him.

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