When Lonzo Ball unveiled $495 basketball shoes last week sold by his family’s Big Baller Brand, his outspoken father, LaVar, made a statement.
“If you can’t afford the ZO2s,” the father wrote on Twitter in a message retweeted or liked more than 51,000 times, “you’re NOT a BIG BALLER!”
But if the first week of sales are any indication, not many big ballers are interested in owning the low-cut black shoes emblazoned with a triple-B logo.
About 500 pairs of the three models of shoes and sandals were ordered in the first week, according to inventory data in the source code for the company’s website.
Through Thursday afternoon, those orders include 356 pairs of the base-model ZO2 Primes — though almost a third of the orders were for size 8.5 shoes — and 121 pairs of the ZO2: Wet. The $995 shoes are autographed in gold ink and come with an LED-lit display case.
The company is also selling $220 ZO2 Signature Slides sandals as part of footwear line for Lonzo Ball, the former star point guard at UCLA who is expected to be a top-three pick in June’s NBA draft.
The video announcing the shoes received more than 1.1 million views. Some professional athletes tweeted screenshots of their orders while others criticized the price tag. But orders haven’t matched the social media-driven hype.
In one 24-hour period earlier this week, 33 pairs of the shoes and flip-flops were ordered.
The company’s first week of footwear sales grossed more than $290,000, according to the inventory data, though manufacturing costs are expected to consume a significant portion of that total.
LaVar Ball, patriarch of the Chino Hills family that also includes UCLA basketball commits LiAngelo and LaMelo, who scored 92 points in a high school game earlier this year, didn’t return a phone message seeking comment. In an appearance on Fox Sports earlier this week, LaVar Ball said he had received more than 495 orders.
After Lonzo Ball declared for the draft in March, companies like Nike, Under Armour and Adidas passed on endorsement deals with him that would’ve included co-branding the family’s line of gear.
In a previous interview with The Los Angeles Times, LaVar Ball suggested a shoe deal covering his three sons could be worth $2 billion.
All of the shoes are preorders that won’t ship until late November. The company’s website — which started selling pricey T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts with the BBB logo last year — specifies shoes can’t be returned or exchanged.
Matt Halfhill, an Irvine resident who founded the Nice Kicks shoe blog, tracked the inventory source code last week before ordering a pair of ZO2 Primes — size 11 — minutes after their release. A co-worker dared Halfhill to purchase the shoes.
Halfhill discovered the default inventory for each size of shoe set at ‘1’ with one deducted after each order. Because they’re preorders, the totals in the code are reflected as negative numbers.
Through the source code, Halfhill charted 263 pairs of shoes sold in the first day.
“This is a great study in how social media impressions and lots of press doesn’t equal dollars in the real world,” he said.