Exciting news coming out of Ball family HQ this Tuesday. It’s not that eldest son Lonzo signed a big-time four-year contract worth $85 million to play for the Chicago Bulls, the most dominant NBA team in preseason history. It’s not the debut of youngest son Lonzo’s first signature shoe with Puma, either. No, like many things that happen in the Ball universe, this is about the family’s patriarch Lavar. It’s been a long time since we’ve heard from Lavar’s Big Baller Brand—but that changes today, with the announcement of a new collection of shoes.
Big Baller Brand, you might remember, was originally launched when Lonzo was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers. The company made shoes that were, even by Lonzo’s own estimation, a nightmare at first. During his first summer league games, Lonzo was forced to swap out pairs of the brand’s ZO2 because they “would just rip,” he said on former teammate Josh Hart’s podcast. Still, Lonzo wore the shoes during his first seasons in the NBA despite concerns from the Lakers that they were the cause of persistent leg and ankle injuries. Eventually, both Lonzo and LaMelo left the family business. “BBB’s run as a footwear brand is over,” ESPN’s Nick DePaula reported almost exactly a year ago.
Not so fast. 12 months after reports of its premature death, Lavar is back with a collection of four leather low-top sneakers. The shoes, which are made of “premium Italian leather” according to product listings and cost $695 to $895, and come in white, red, and blue colorways. A fourth shoe has a suede upper with the phrase “I Told You So” on it. Hilariously enough, those shoe are designed and inspired by middle son and G-League hopeful LiAngelo Ball—seemingly complicating Lavar’s claim to have told us so.
That phrase is the overarching theme of the entire collection though, even if it only appears on one shoe. Two of the Ball brothers are succeeding in the NBA (LaMelo in particular looks destined to circus-pass his way to superstardom). In that light, this collection is Lavar’s victory lap. His sons have earned staying power in the league, which means that Lavar, that he has a fresh chance almost-$1,000 bowling shoes. Rolling out new BBB shoes on the very same day your son announces his Pumas is…definitely a choice, but that doesn’t mean it’s not great marketing.
After BBB’s attempts at basketball shoes literally exploded, making more performance shoes was not an option—especially after the brand’s two most promising ambassadors bailed. Instead, BBB is turning its attention to lifestyle shoes that don’t have to hold up to the wear and tear of an NBA game. BBB is, if nothing else, a fascinating experiment. Big sneaker companies have always had a stranglehold on the basketball footwear market, along with the budget required to sponsor players to wear their shoes. BBB, along with peers like Washington Wizards Spencer Dinwiddie’s K8iros footwear company, are testing out the idea that players (or the families of players) can hawk their own shoes. Obviously, BBB wasn’t able to hang in the world of basketball shoes—but its owner is still happy to say he told you so.