by Rob Joyce
For someone who has never stepped foot on the court in an NBA game, Lonzo Ball is making as many headlines, in the heat of the playoffs, as any star in the league. The former UCLA point guard and presumed top-three lottery pick has made waves over the last few weeks, as his dad, LaVar Ball, is pumping up both Lonzo and his two younger brothers.
Asking for a billion-dollar contract for all three Balls, Nike, Under Armour and Adidas all spurned the elder statesman and his “Big Baller Brand”. So he went and created his own label, releasing the “ZO2” shoe for a mere $495. Why so expensive? Because apparently Lonzo is already the greatest of all-time – even better than His Airness. “Michael Jordan couldn’t command [$495] for shoes… because he ain’t Lonzo Ball” LaVar told Fox Sports 1.
The merits of this aren’t going to be debated (they’re obviously farcical) but if Lonzo wants the biggest shoe deal in the league, here’s who he is up against:
5) James Harden:
The Rockets’ star kicks things off, signing a 13-year, $200-million deal with Adidas in 2015 after Nike, who previously had Harden, didn’t match the contract. Unlike Nike, where he’s sharing the shoe spotlight with plenty of other NBA superstars (not to mention, a certain legend), he’s the face of basketball for Adidas.
4) Stephen Curry:
Nike chose not to re-sign Curry, who had battled early-career injuries. So he went to Under Armour, became a two-time MVP, won a title, and made the company an absurd amount of shoe money. The exact numerical figure of his deal is unknown – though he is under contract with Under Armour through 2024 – it’s estimated that his Curry shoes alone make up a solid chunk of the company’s sales.
3) Kevin Durant:
Curry may have sparked the Warriors’ boost, but in terms of shoe dollars he’s second on the team. Kevin Durant signed with Nike back in 2014, after a bidding war with Under Armour drove up the price to $30 million annually, and $300 million total over the life of the deal. He’s not quite the guy at Nike, but he can certainly make a nice living, for sure.
2) LeBron James:
The exact numerical amount isn’t known, but when Nike gives you a lifetime deal worth north of $1 billion, it’s safe to say James makes the list. If Ball wants to look at an example for a
“rookie shoe deal” it’s with LeBron. Before he was drafted first overall by the Cavs in 2003, James signed a seven-year, $90-million with Nike.
1) Michael Jordan:
The GOAT hasn’t played in nearly 15 years, but his iconic Jordan brand is still making him richer than any current star in the league. In 2016 the Hall of Famer raked in estimates of over $100 million from Nike, which is more than he made during his entire NBA career combined. In other words, Lonzo Ball has a ways to go.