Soon-to-be NBA rookie Lonzo Ball’s sneaker under Big Baller Brand debuted Thursday with a hefty price tag: $495 for the ZO2 signature style.
It was roasted on social media, and then chided by Shaquille O’Neal, whose namesake sneaker range offers budget-friendly options.
But the former UCLA star’s outspoken father, LaVar defended the cost of his son’s kicks today on ESPN Radio, citing the merits of quality and entrepreneurial savvy.
“I figure that’s what the shoe is worth,” LaVar said of how he determined the price point on The Dan Le Batard Show. “When you are your own owner you can come up with any price you want.”
The Big Baller Brand debut range includes two sneakers — Zo2: Prime, $495, and Zo2: Wet, $995. The latter comes autographed in a sleek case.
As for the Zo2 Slides, which retail for $220, LaVar praised the craftsmanship of the flip flops as comparable to that of legacy fashion houses.
“Prada and Gucci is selling theirs for what they want,” LaVar said. “Ours is better than that. It feels better. I feel my sandals are worth $220.”
He added that “sales are going good,” but did not specify any numbers.
On Thursday, O’Neal took to Twitter to urge the athlete to offer affordable options for his young fans. “Hey @Lavarbigballer real big baller brands don’t over charge kids for shoes,” he tweeted.
Last year O’Neal said on Twitter that his brand “has sold over 120 millions pairs of affordable shoes for kids @Walmart.”
On the retail giant’s website, his Shaq sneakers for boys are sold for as low as $12.70, and larger sizes are around $60.
LaVar spoke exclusively with Footwear News on Tuesday about partnerships and how the split between athlete and brand is unfair.
“Everyone is stuck in the same lane where they’re always thinking about an endorsement deal. They were telling me about Ben Simmons, he got a $20 million deal, [as if] that’s something,” Ball said. “If $20 million to you is something, then that’s good. But if a guy is making billions of dollars off of you and he gives you $20 million, that’s not good for me.”