For those that follow college basketball Lonzo Ball, a former UCLA guard is expected to be a top-three pick in the upcoming draft. It is usual for future NBA stars to sign a contract with one of the establish athletic-shoe makers (Nike, UnderArmor, Adidas, etc.) to develop a "signature" shoe, which will go on sale to the avid collectors of such items, usually at a retail price ranging from $75 to $175. In exchange, the future NBA millionaire gets nice little downpayment from the sneaker-maker of between $10 and $50 million or so. Lonzo Ball went a different route. He signed with Big Baller Brand, a company founded by his father Lavar Ball. Who had recently offered a package deal to shoe-makers for the rights on all three of his sons (including 15 yr-old LaMelo, who scored 92 points in a high school game last season) for a reputed $1 billion. The sneaker-makers declined. Thursday evening, Big Baller Brands unveiled the ZO2, Lonzo's signature shoe, expected to ship in November of this year. It's price: $495 for the least-expensive pair. Shoe aficionados (and sports marketing executives) remained skeptical. Lonzo Ball's success in the NBA is uncertain, at best. And five hundred dollars is a lot of money for a pair of athletic shoes from a company with no history of athletic success or technical merit. I don't know what this says about the state of sports in this country. I know less about what it says about fashion. But it surely says something about the state of pure, naked avarice. And it surely must say something about the state of utter separation from reality that seems to infect a growing segment of our society.