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Whenever an athlete drops a new signature shoe, Twitter is there to savagely critique it. Steph Curry and James Harden both went through it with their footwear, and now Lonzo Ball, the NBA-bound 19-year-old star of UCLA’s basketball team, is feeling it too. But this roast isn’t all about aesthetics—it’s about the fact that Ball’s shoe is coming out through his dad Lavar’s upstart label, Big Baller Brand, and it costs a whopping $495.
Compared to the $125 Under Armour Curry 2 Lows, which were mocked mercilessly but sold out anyway, Ball’s ZO-2 shoe may have a tough road ahead of it.
The premium price tag is an intentional marketing play by the elder Ball, who told Slam he saw it as filling a niche above Nike’s Jordans but below Gucci. That’s ambitious when the player endorsing it has yet to sign with an NBA team.
But Twitter wasn’t having the $500 shoes with the “Delorean finish.” The jokes flew fast and free.
you can buy like 400 McChickens or this shoe. your call. pic.twitter.com/7qk1ZpFjaS— Nick Yoko (@nickyokoyama) May 4, 2017
Two years ago I interviewed high school star Lonzo Ball postgame. Now I can't afford even one pair of his shoes. Life comes at you fast. pic.twitter.com/xT1QwCY1CS— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) May 4, 2017
When you see the price of Lonzo Ball's ugly new shoe.. pic.twitter.com/4YyqZsyHKX— Andrew Somerville (@A_Somie10) May 5, 2017
And so did the mean jokes about Lavar’s teeth:
Adding to the problem of the price tag, many think the ZO2’s look like carbon copies of Kobe Bryant’s much cheaper Nike Mambas. “Lavar Ball stealing Kobe shoe!! Smh,” critics roared.
The look LaVar Ball gets when Nike pulls up knocks on the door & serves him with a cease & desist letter on them Nike Kobe Mamba knockoffs😬 pic.twitter.com/gB1m9nMpdh— Stacey King (@Stacey21King) May 4, 2017
Someone need to slap lavar ball upside the damn head if he think mfs paying 500 for some Kobe look-alikes— Frank white (@b1ow_my_tweets) May 5, 2017
Big Baller Brand even got owned by the biggest baller himself, Shaquille O’Neal, who asked the company not to “overcharge kids for shoes.”
Lonzo’s dad is confident in the price tag, though. He’s even using reverse psychology to goad people into spending half a stack on his product.
Big Baller's loose! If you can't afford the ZO2'S, you're NOT a BIG BALLER! 💰— Lavar Ball (@Lavarbigballer) May 4, 2017
Judging by the Twitter backlash, it’s not working.
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.