Unless you are a wannabe blockbuster movie or an Italian bake sale, $157,000 is certainly nothing to discredit as a business’ first day of honest work. Of course, through crunching the misleading numbers of LaVar and Lonzo Ball’s opening sales of Big Baller Brand’s ZO2 shoe model, an abandoned Blockbuster might even sell more than 263 pairs.
Such is the luxurious life of retailing signature basketball sneakers at $495 per kicks ($995 if autographed). Much controversy surrounds the Ball family’s collective entrepreneurial endeavor, between father LaVar’s untied mouth and the fact that son Lonzo hasn’t played a lick in the NBA yet. Still, you cannot help but commend the former for pushing an aspired brand worth with already long-lasting buzz. Overall, it appears to finally be reputable UCLA-bred game plan.
Dismiss for now the innocent child demographic now cashing in allowances, PS4s and shrined Kevin Garnett K-Swiss classics for these ZO2 sneaks. A pair of athletic shoes this expensive must mean they are suitable for all walks of daily life…
…As if your Air Jordans DIDN’T sponsor your latest budget meeting or your wedding. When done correctly, there is no denying the prospects of clean and expressive design tastefully teamed underneath Ralph Lauren polo pants or George dress wear (or better examples if you own more than $495).
How much can the true aesthetics, versatility and branding of the NBA signature sneaker pipeline transcend the court and compliment your courtroom outfit? Through delicate balancing of warped nostalgia and legitimate millennial reasoning, allow these Top 25 rankings to influence your next pick-and-roll footwear with business casual attire at the very least:
25) Reebok Shaqnosis
Defend the kids on Twitter all you want, Diesel. Perhaps there are pundits better equipped to stand up for the signature sneakers industry than Kazaam and his MTV Cribs kaleidscopes. There is no knock here on Shaq as an overall entity, nor the internal Hexalite surround cushioning meant to propel you through any situation. Still, these shoes are less inconspicuous at a business lunch and more suited for a Bryant Park lawn date with Charles Barkley.
24) Nike Air Penny I
Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway’s surprisingly extensive line of footwear aches to be invited to this mixer, so let’s honor retro as we see fit. The shape and design of the first edition appear sharp enough, apart from what resembles a surgically implanted zipper that should never been anywhere below the knee.
23) New Balance P-790
As someone who personally pulls off custom Asics with his sleek navy blue slacks from the mall, even I render James UN-Worthy underneath a desk not situated in a corporate division of Staples Center. That’s the impression one gets from the Los Angeles Lakers legend’s model when not in west-coast downtown. That being said, the colorful commitment to brand integrity is undeniably bold, making James Worthy after all…
22) Adidas Mutombo
Combine the intricate stitch stylings amid the classic white and blue, Dikembe Mutombo’s integrated humanitarianism personified by shoes, and the fact that he’s the most impenetrable NBA frat member on this list. Mt. Mutombo is firmly planted in the shoe hall of fame, though this particular pair should probably remain reserved for special occasions.
21) Nike Zoom KD V
Of all the reigning megastars currently in the league, Kevin Durant’s signature sneaks can be dubbed inferior among his crew. This pair of Vs specifically reeks of a failed Nickelodeon interview. You’ll get away with wearing these solely on name recognition.
20) Adidas T-Mac 2
Elevating to a more serious sneaker tier, Tracy McGrady’s second installment proved to receptively turn the tides for such low-cut options; the subtle shine carries over to your first-class flight as well. Nowadays T-Mac hides those blue webs that landed him a gig at ESPN’s broadcast counter alongside Jalen Rose’s Fab flats.
19) Jordan Melo 1.5
The free-throw bonus and flagrant foul of piggybacking off of Michael Jordan cancel each other out. The ultimate selling point of this shoe remains what I’m choosing to call the “Belmont Blue” border (SprezzaBox subscribers be advised). Unfortunately, that exact color scheme also symbolizes the full Carmelo Anthony package and his depressing stint here in New York.
18) Converse Weapon
For a pair of Converse to even be rated this highly further illuminates the mainstay greatness of Magic Johnson. The universal black and white can only go so far, so either bank on how showtime Broadway evenings are predominantly dark, or pack them for those oh-so-stereotypically stuffy Mountain Dew conventions at the Marriott.
17) Nike Kobe 9 Elite
If the ability to accessorize your ensemble with mix-and-match variability is a top priority, this edition of Kobe offers more promise than you may expect. The pioneered Flyknit product is sturdy yet supple and comes either lowered or raised per preference. The print itself is limiting in certain settings, but minimally wasteful manufacturing is eco-friendly and therefore you are adulting.
16) Adidas adiZero Rose 2
Five-time champion Kobe is one of two NBA stars featured amongst these rankings multiple times, while the other is surprisingly washed-up 2010-11 MVP Derrick Rose. You can feel assured after Rose’s multitude of injuries that this shoe showcases innovation and extensive free time towards protection and pleasure throughout long work periods of standing or transit. Get past the cleat look and the premium leather dresses to impress.
15) Nike Kyrie 1
14) Nike PG 1
Backtracking for some added perspective, Kyrie Irving and Paul George – two perennial, all-star, veteran talents – are still leaving a fresh print on the signature sneaker scene with an exclusive sale this upcoming Saturday (in this case, though, it’s the Kyrie 3). The Indiana Pacers forward is posting at $110 a pair, the Cleveland Cavaliers guard is maxing out at $130…and Ball is a soon-to-be rookie earning $1K per pen on bearskin! The kid better supply his future locker room with a rad DVD and Blu Ray spread.
As for these two, opt for the safer PG rating over the swish yet polarizing red.
13) Nike Kobe VIII
The budding hipster office environment better supports the chic purple of this Kobe model, as opposed to the LA counterpart previously discussed. It’s aerodynamics call for a spry go-for-coffee, so your speed better live up to the boss’ hype or else this isn’t a daily look you can pull too often.
12) Under Armor Curry Two Low “Chef”
Predecessor of the world’s most scrutinized athletic shoe, Steph Curry is officially dethroned by the ZO2. Last summer’s backlash proves to be misguided: the Chefs appears suitable for ALL ages inside and out; they accentuate the UA compression undergarments fueling my workouts in between city commutes; and evidently they’re classy enough to be served with a side of raspberry champagne vinaigrette.
11) Nike Zoom Flight ’98 “The Glove”
Falling just short of the Top 10, the appeal of these “gloves” is as avant-garde as you are perceiving it realtime – they epitomize the ridiculousness of treating feet like hands. That being said, strictly in terms of powerful branding the basketball universe, Gary Payton ascends to the Mount Rushmore of recreational wear. They are sure to set you apart from your peers in the eyes of superiors, while doubling as a tribute to one of society’s trendier cities in Seattle. If only green was more flattering.
10) Reebok Question
The answer is that we are most certainly not talking about practice. Allen Iverson’s 15-year-old rant is personified by his revolutionary footwear, as no statement makes more noise than the bottom line (literally for the sake of this argument). There is no realer game than life, and these sick shoes need no further explanation.
9) Ewing Athletics 33 Hi
What makes Patrick Ewing’s steps more serious is his accompanying, grueling journey to at long last capturing a head coaching position at Georgetown in early April; his high-rises personify that perseverance. The presented sheen and polish shine bright like the top of the key.
8) Adidas D Rose 3.5
There is cultural significance embedded in Rose’s well-pointed addition to your bolder image. Hitting the free-agent market in 2013, the 3.5s embody the Year of Snake both in design and intent, so conquer the Bronx Zoo in style before slithering on the dance floor.
7) Li Ning Way of Wade 2
From snakes to horses, league ambassador and three-time champion Dwayne Wade took it to the next level by welcoming an Asian brand into the American landscape. The solid white or black presents itself well with the efficiency in coloring, and as SprezzaBox is celebrating colts all month long via the oncoming Belmont box, we support you lacing up Li Ning along with it.
6) Adidas J Wall 1
John Wall continues to validate his enterprising decision-making with his yearly ascension on the court for the Washington Wizards. Matching his postseason assist totals is his dishing of multiple patterns, effortlessly pulling off a suave persona for something that is still blatantly an athlete’s sneaker. As an homage to Wall’s liking to floral, sport these kicks with last week’s Look of the Week!
5) Nike LeBron VIII
May all of the Zoom Soldiers of the King’s Illuminati mentally smite me for such a downgrade of LeBron’s endorsements. Similar to KD, James’ recognition carries anything he signs his name on, except these kicks display obvious visual merit. There is figurative AND literal personification of big shoes to fill even fresh from the South Beach diet…an hour-long ESPN press conference would have placed them higher in our starting five.
4) Adidas Dame 3 Legacy
There is nothing flashy about Adidas’ token to the Western Conference’s forgotten potent scorer and side rapper. It’s your basic beige gum goaltending the Portland white, and yet Damian Lillard’s product infantile product first comes to mind now as the new hypothetical go-to when wearing khakis, which are also making a cyclical comeback.
The peace has been made. It is a beautiful shoe, and all of my financial debt is at the mercy of the University of Southern California.
2) Air Jordan XI
Highlighting the MJs with specially buffed tips, the silver medal is awarded to His Airness’ essence and footgear empire as a whole. The OG essentially wrote a cinematic cult institution with a slew of animated barefoot psychotics. Wear this whenever and however! Now, seeing as we’ve already tripped over objectivity…
1) Adidas The KOBE
Shed the tarp off of your DeLorean, pimp it to resemble an Audi TT Roadster and go back in time to purchase my nine-year-old self a pair of signature KOBE sneaks. History tells us they never go out of style, as the Black Mamba opted for these originals as opposed to his then-recent sequel en route to victory over the New Jersey Nets. Sometimes an inclusive, solitary dimension is all that’s needed to be great. Just don’t get them dirty.
Mike L. // The Guide