Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Stephon Marbury Deserves a Pat On The Back

True confession: I'm not a sneaker guy. Period.

Some folks (Dallas, I'm talkin' to you, bruh) are self confessed sneaker fiends who'll throw loads of gwap for the latest limited edition Dunks or AF1's. Personally, I'm not spending more than $75 on tennis shoes. I don't play basketball enough to need Jordans, and truth be told, most dudes dropping $200 on shoes that come in a briefcase aren't ballin' in them anyway. I'd rather blow my money on other, likely equally trivial, stuff, but hey, that's just me.

So, I was pretty siced when NY Knicks star Stephon Marbury announced last Fall that he was starting a line of affordable, yet quality athletic shoes. Well, siced and leery. After all, most cheap shoes (Kangaroos, Zips, Shaqs, Keds, Air Corps, etc.) feel and look cheap. And while I'm not vain enough to drop $200 on gym shoes, I'm also too vain to roll out with kicks that look like they were bought at K-Mart. I'm just insecure like that.

Still, the prospect of $15 shoes is too alluring for a guy like me to pass up, thus began my love affair with the Starbury line of sneakers. I am happy to say that after 3 pairs and 8 months, the shoes feel just as good as those that they mimic (AF1's and New Balance to be exact) for a mere fraction of the cost. They are well built, and just as durable. The initial line included Starbury Crossovers (AF1 Knockoffs) and Cyclones (New Bals) for just $10. There was even a knockoff Timberland boot for just $15, which I also copped, and have thrown into the rotation with the rest of my shoes. Just last week, the new line of shoes was released, this time with more Cyclones and some newer lines that are original designs. I've still yet to bother with the actual basketball shoes themselves (Starbury 1 and 2) which Stephon and now Big Ben Wallace sport, but hey, I'm not a basketball shoe dude.

The shoes have in some ways changed the game. With Wallace on as another celebrity endorser, the shoe line continues to gain credibility. The initial shoe line has expanded, as have the other items in the Starbury empire, which include tees, buttondowns, jeans, and jackets, all for affordable prices. The number of items has grown from 50 to over 200. But all accounts, this has been a slam dunk for Marbury, whose reputation has greatly improved even as his play has continued to deteriorate on court, and for Steve and Barrys, which now has some cache beyond being "that store at the end of the mall that sells college tees".

Most importantly though, I think/hope that this line of shoes has given parents an affordable alternative to dropping 100's of dollars on shoes to appease their kids. Each time I've gone to the store, I've seen young kids that looked just like me at a preteen, being able to purchase shoes with their own allowance, being followed around by visibly less stressed parents. Charging $200 for a shoe that cost $3 to manufacture just isn't right, and I commend Stephon and Steve and Barrys for giving parents an attractive alternative.

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