Big Baller Brand’s $500 shoes are another shameless — and smart — move by LaVar Ball

LaVar Ball’s nascent company, Big Baller Brand, unveiled its new line of shoes, and while some noted that the centerpiece sneaker was fairly well designed, most were taken aback by the price tag: $495. That jarring figure was the talk of sports Internet on Thursday, which is, of course, exactly what Ball wanted.

All the folks, including prominent athletes and sports journalists, mocking the insanely high prices of Big Baller footwear, including $220 slides? Just fine by Ball.

The important thing was, as noted, the BBB product launch dominated the sports world Thursday, even as the NBA playoffs were in full swing. And that happened because of, not despite, the seemingly ludicrous prices involved.

Once again, Ball showed that he is shameless — and smart. He hasn’t exactly started with nothing, but he has been extremely savvy in the way he has leveraged the rise to fame of his son Lonzo.


Think about it: In October, Lonzo Ball was barely a blip on the national radar, never mind his father. Lonzo’s success as a UCLA freshman, which has him poised to be a top-three pick in June’s NBA draft, ensured that he would emerge from the season well-known, but thanks to LaVar’s nonstop braggadocio and ability to provoke high-profile feuds, they’re both now essentially household names in the sports world.

By drawing so much attention to himself, LaVar Ball has created an enormous amount of awareness for Big Baller Brand. Just as an example, this blog has now written 18 posts about him, all since March, when his claim that Lonzo will be a better NBA player than two-time MVP Steph Curry caught the attention of Charles Barkley.

Sure, much of the commentary, here at The Post and elsewhere, has either implicitly or overtly taken the stance that Ball is something of a buffoon. Do you think he cares? We’re all talking about him, right? You’re reading this, right?

The reception Thursday of the BBB product launch was a perfect case in point. Mockery and/or criticism of the $495 shoes was all over the virtual place, including from the Twitter account of none other than Shaquille O’Neal, who noted his own, much more kid-friendly brand of low-price sneakers. Stephon Marbury, he of the famously $14.98 Starburys, also weighed in.

Before his Warriors tipped off against the Jazz in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinals series, Golden State interim head coach Mike Brown fielded a question about the shoes. He had a good laugh, but Ball was likely smiling, as well.

All sorts of NFL players — with many thousands of social-media followers — took advantage of their offseason down time to take shots at the expensive footwear.

Other NFL figures were more complimentary. Chad Johnson and Arian Foster announced that they had already made purchases, while Michael Bennett praised Ball’s entrepreneurial instincts.

Even the many people, athletes and otherwise, clowning Ball for thinking he could charge so much for his son’s signature shoe were doing him a favor. Ball is aiming for a market, one he might just be creating on the fly, between the prices set by major brands, such as Nike and Adidas, and luxury-goods manufacturers such as Louis Vuitton and Prada. It’s important to Ball that as many people as possible know that his company’s shoes cost $500, and if word gets out by way of ridiculing comments, that’ll work.



Leave a Reply