Lonzo Ball has worn four different shoes this Summer League, and only one of them has been from his own Big Baller Brand. It is worth noting that Lonzo had his worst game of Summer League wearing his own ZO2 sneaker. Nick DePaula reported Lonzo turned down an offer from Nike that would have paid him at least $1.5 million a year for four years to wear their shoes. LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s father and co-owner of Big Baller Brand, said that his son’s freedom to wear different shoes is a benefit of being independent. LaVar also said his son could sign to a big brand “if the price is right.”
Lonzo’s swapping of shoes has been a major surprise. It might seem silly to make a big deal of a player wearing shoes from different brands, but Lonzo is the co-owner of a shoe brand. Are people really going to buy the $495 ZO2’s if Lonzo Ball isn’t going to make them the shoe he always plays in? It is a very curious decision from a business standpoint.
Is Ball making a mistake by not sticking solely with his shoe? It sure seems like one. If Lonzo wants to sell his own shoe and be independent, wearing shoes by other brands is devaluing his own product. Less exposure for the ZO2 means less pairs sold. It is also making his personal brand even more confusing. The decision to constantly wear competitor’s shoes does not seem to make sense if Lonzo really wants to stay independent.
But what if Lonzo really does not want to remain independent? Could Lonzo be trying to use his freedom from a big brand to leverage a bigger deal? People have been treating Lonzo’s Summer League like a big deal, there is a lot of hype around him right now. I think Lonzo is using Summer League as an opportunity to audition to Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour. Maybe those brands didn’t offer what Lonzo wanted, but now with Lonzo showing his skills and the buzz surrounding him? Maybe they will reconsider. Maybe one of them will buy or absorb Big Baller Brand in some way (seems unlikely but perhaps not out of the question).
Lonzo’s decision to wear shoes from competing brands in Summer League should be interpreted as a sign to the big shoe brands that Lonzo is still on the market. If I were to guess, Lonzo Ball will be signed to one of the big shoe brands by the end of 2017.