Ex-NBA Star Marbury in Drive to Revive Cheap Sneakers

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Can a $15 pair of athletic shoes help stop a run of crime while making you run faster?

How much are a pair of sneakers worth to you? Would you steal for them?

The base price of a pair of Nike’s customizable Air Jordan Spike 40 iDs is $220.

That’s way too much, says former NBA basketball star Stephon Marbury, who grew up poor in Brooklyn, New York. Now a resident of China, where he plays for the Beijing Ducks, the former New York Knick says he’s working to bring back his Starbury sneaker line that will sell for around $15 a pair. He believes he can provide these affordable shoes at the same level of quality as Air Jordans and other brands whose prices are driven up by celebrity endorsements.

Stephon Marbury's Twitter picture of his Starbury samples.Stephon Marbury’s Twitter picture of his Starbury samples.

Earlier this month Marbury tweeted a picture of samples from his new line. “It takes time to kill it once and for all!” he said, adding the sneakers would be available “real soon.”

Not only will the sneakers that he says are made in the same factory as Air Jordans cost less, Marbury told the BBC, they will cut down on sneaker thefts.

Also, he tweeted, kids from poor neighborhoods won’t beg their parents to buy them celebrity-touted sneakers they can’t afford.

Nike has not responded directly to Marbury’s comments but has condemned specific acts of violence sparked by its sneaker sales, the BBC said.

Michael Jordan signed with Nike on Oct. 24, 1984, and his first signature shoe hit the market the following April 1, according to Nike.

The BBC said there are no statistics on shoe-related crime, but $324 million worth of clothing was reported stolen across the United States in 2014.

It also cited reports of sneaker-related crime:

  • In February 2015, an Ohio teen was killed while attempting to steal a new pair of Air Jordans from a man in a parking lot.
  • In April 2014, a 15-year-old boy shot a 14-year-old after he was accused of jumping the line to buy Kanye West branded shoes.
  • A year earlier, 15 men were caught on video stealing sneakers from a Georgia FootLocker after ramming a truck into the shop’s front window.

Marbury first tried to launch a sneaker line in 2006, but the company he partnered with, Steve & Barry’s, went under in 2009. We’ll soon see if his new shoe line will fly this time.

Do you think that Marbury’s approach can work — as a business and as a way to address violence related to expensive trendy shoes? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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