One of the aspects of rare sneakers that grasps people and makes them so fascinated besides how they look and feel is also the stories that inevitably are told alongside them.
Whilst the Air Jordan III design is groundbreaking in its own right, it is even more fascinating that it was ultimately the shoe that saved the Air Jordan brand, which could just as easily have been lured away.
Similarly, the Adidas Kobe sneakers are unique but are hotly desired in part because of the strange way their partnership ended.
However, one of the most interesting and surreal sneaker stories in recent years revolves around a rising star in the NBA and how his career may have been shortened and tainted by a signature shoe that simply did not work for him.
Lonzo Ball was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the second overall pick after the purple and gold posted a record of 26-56, the third-worst record in the league and second-worst in the Western Conference.
A tall, agile point guard, Lonzo showed a lot of promise but also made a lot of headlines off the court in a lot of stories related to his shoes, the ZO2 brand made by his father’s company, Big Baller Brand.
Part of this was due to the astonishing starting price of $495 and his response to criticism accusing anyone who couldn’t afford them of not being “a BIG BALLER”[sic]. Part of this was whether the endorsement broke NCAA rules.
Another, much bigger part of this was that the shoes did not seem to suit him or how he played.
During his rookie year, especially during the pre-season summer league, he would regularly switch out his shoes, which he later described as “exploded” after just 12 minutes of use.
Lonzo Ball suffered from a wealth of injuries to his ankles when playing in LA, to the point that the Lakers staff asked Lonzo whether his shoes were causing the issue.
These injuries and the lost season they caused in 2018-19 when Lebron James joined the Lakers were partly responsible for Lonzo’s trade to the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis, a decision that saw his games played statistics improve significantly alongside his points per game.
Ultimately, the BBB agreement ended in 2019 after accusations that its co-founder Alan Foster had misappropriated funds.