OPINION: Sensible Shoe Sales Banished From Basketball

Our world is infested with “branded” items – clothes or cologne with a celebrity’s name plastered atop in a blatant effort to utilize a celebrity’s name to boost sales.

When that celebrity is Michael Jordan or Kevin Durant, such a purchase is difficult to justify.

When the “celebrity” is a random high school kid who may not even make it into the NCAA to begin with, the logic going on behind such a purchase becomes even more difficult to fathom.

Yet that’s not stopping upcoming athlete and entrepreneur LaMelo Ball from trying to market his very own celebrity-branded shoes — the Big Baller brand Melo Ball 1. Displayed on the website in a garish black, red, and leopard print color scheme, these shoes probably won’t be an “industry game changer” so much as they are a wallet weight changer – sizes 7 to 13 cost $395.00, while sizes 14 and 15 will set you back $595.00. For this immensely low price, you get a pair of shoes that are “ballin on every level,” and that’s it.

Doesn’t that sound grand?

But perhaps the advertising blurb can justify the triple-digit price somehow. But before we delve into their little pond of buzzwords and marketing trigger phrases, let’s take a look at this line.

“Meticulously designed and inspired by basketball prodigy LaMELO BALL.

Now, I’m not sure if this is simply me needing more sleep or if it’s simple laziness, but I’m afraid I don’t know if LaMelo was a central figure in the shoe’s design, or if he merely served as the inspiration for its existence.  Either way, the marketing department of the Big Baller Brand might be interested in going over that line again. I understand that the company wants to emphasize why the shoes were created in the…

Actually, I don’t understand it at all. Why do some of the words have to be bolded and placed in all-caps, let alone at the same time? The effect certainly draws the eye, but here it’s so strong that it appears almost desperate. The fact that it’s generally the buzzwords and meaningless jargon that’s highlighted makes me cringe even thinking about how the emphasis is placed. Just because a video game title can put its name in all caps on its box art doesn’t mean the same can be done for the description of a shoe.

The rest of the advertising blurb isn’t any better, as it’s simply written to tick the boxes on that checklist of marketing cliches, complete with feel-good phrases that include “maximum comfort”, “rich appearance”, and “sleek silhouette”. One phrase that stands out in particular is “a first of its kind, for a PLAYER that is first of his kind.” So, in other words, one of the main selling points of the shoe is that it’s inspired by a unique player, even though these shoes will likely be manufactured and made in such a way that each pair is the exact same.

Let me rephrase that — the sellers of these shoes want a whole bunch of people to purchase the same shoe with the same (questionable) design and same (ugly) visual aesthetics, even though the selling point of the shoes is the fact that they’re by a completely unique individual.

Ah, but when has a bit of hypocrisy ever stopped people from hawking questionable-quality goods at unreasonable prices?

But enough about the shoe itself. I’m sure Jordan and Bryant’s branded shoes aren’t any better at all. But at least they were made once they were already playing under the big lights in an arena coated with garish advertisements.

While LaMelo certainly appears to be a talented player — as a simple Google search of his name will reveal — there’s no real justification for a branded shoe being made even before LaMelo’s career has started proper. This person hasn’t even finished high school yet, and already LaMelo and his family are aiming to fill their pockets through his talent. Hey, maybe the kid will make it into the NCAA after all, sinking three-point shots and putting egg on my face in just a few short years.

If that really were to happen, though… Well, he wouldn’t have to learn what is or isn’t smart financial practice. He wouldn’t have to learn the basic skills needed to serve a customer without letting on that you hate your job. He wouldn’t have to learn how to keep your cool even when you run into customers who will never be right now or ever. He wouldn’t have to learn how to be polite even when you’re surrounded by toys you will never be able to afford. He wouldn’t have to experience any sort of learning at all.

In other words?

He’d become an absolutely wonderful human being. I can see it already.

As for what’s happening on the customer’s end, well, that raises all sorts of questions, including:

Why would they want to purchase a shoe that’s “inspired” by a popular athlete?

How would a shoe even be “inspired” by an athlete in the first place?

Why does the idea of a celebrity-branded anything even work in the first place?

I’ll be blunt. The only true answer I can deliver in response to these mysteries is “I have no clue.”

And to be honest?

I think I’m better off not knowing what sort of psychology is behind this capitalism-exploited mass behavior.

In fact, now that I’m aware of some of the things possible in today’s society, I’d like to end the article with a brief announcement.

In a few months, my family–the Wang family–will be coming out with a new set of glasses, certain to TAKE THE INDUSTRY BY STORM.

Yes, you read that right.

Soon, the What’s Wang Brand will release their very first celebrity-branded glasses, the ZiYANG WANG 4.

A truly unique set of glasses for a truly unique individual, they come in any color that happens to be solid orange, with Premium Latex Cushioning to ensure a comfortable fit no matter the situation.

Pre-order now by calling 1-800-YOU-FOOL and softly murmuring into the phone about the merits of owning branded shoes over regular shoes.