On Wednesday, Lonzo Ball raised eyebrows when he wore a pair of Nikes — instead of his family’s own Big Baller Brand shoes, priced at a mere $495 — in a Summer League game for the Lakers. Ball had 36 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds and five steals in that game, and he followed that up Thursday with another big performance.
Oh, and Ball wore yet another pair of shoes. This time, the draft’s No. 2 overall pick was clad in Adidas sneakers from James Harden’s line, as he dropped 16 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds and 5 steals on Cleveland.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) July 14, 2017
After Wednesday’s game, Ball referred to former Lakers great and Nike endorser Kobe Bryant when he said he wore that company’s shoes to adopt a “Mamba mentality.” Following Thursday’s outing, he nodded to Harden by claiming he was in a “Fear the Beard” frame of mind.
“Even though I don’t have one [a beard], it’s just something different,” Ball added. He had previously said of straying from the BBB line, “You can wear whatever you want when you play with Big Baller Brand.”
Ball didn’t actually need to explain his affinity for the Harden Adidas shoes, as he had worn them frequently during his one season at UCLA, which has a contract with that company. In fact, Ball wore Adidas during his first pre-draft workout for the Lakers, who wound up taking him second overall.
At the time, though, it seemed like a less-than-ringing endorsement for his own line of shoes, and the developments of the past two days have left some observers befuddled.
Lonzo Ball once again isn't wearing his shoes — now wearing a pair of Harden's. Not the best look for the Big Baller Brand.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) July 14, 2017
The Lonzo ZO2 shoe: So good, the guy it's modeled for stopped wearing them after 2 summer league games.
— Jason Smith (@howaboutafresca) July 13, 2017
Others, however, saw Ball’s switching up of his sneakers as part of a deliberate, and possibly clever, marketing plan. By bringing renewed attention to his footwear, some posited, Ball would get BBB all the more coverage when he inevitably wore that brand again.
ESPN’s Darren Rovell surmised that Ball was “auditioning for a shoe deal” from one of the major companies. To that end, Ball was asked after Thursday’s game if he might be wearing Under Armour shoes for the Lakers’ next game, to which he replied, “Stay tuned.”