A different kind of hoop dream is born

Stephon Marbury plans to wear $15 sneakers this season to prove his budget clothing line is just as good as the more expensive competition.

When New York Knicks basketball star Stephon Marbury takes the court this October, conversation won’t revolve around whether he can lead his team to a winning season or whether he’ll get along with his new coach. Instead, it will revolve around his shoes.

Marbury will sport sneakers from his brand, Starbury, an inexpensive line he created in hopes of preventing street violence and saving parents money. The sneakers retail for a mere $14.98.

Steve & Barry’s, the company partnering with Marbury to produce the line, asserts that the shoes and apparel are the same quality as their name-brand competition. The difference in cost lies not in the products themselves, but in the endorsements and advertising campaigns that go into marketing them. To prove this point, Marbury will wear his $15 Starbury shoes in every game.

This approach toward helping the community is commendable. Marbury received no money up front for his clothing line and will profit only if his products sell. Other stars of similar stature sign endorsements worth millions, leading to prices 10 times higher for essentially the same product. For example, a pair of Nike Air Jordan’s cost $175, whereas Starbury shoes and apparel will range in price from $10 to $15.

To promote his new line, Marbury has embarked on a nationwide tour, making friends and signing shoes along the way. His tour included a stop in Minneapolis last week, where he was met with support from parents and kids alike.

In this day and age when contract disputes and multimillion dollar endorsement deals are the norm, it’s encouraging to see a sports figure engaged in practical and creative philanthropy. Marbury said he wanted to start the clothing line because he remembers what it was like growing up in New York City in a large family that didn’t have a lot of money. He hopes that kids in a similar situation can now afford cool gear.

It’s only fitting that his childhood nickname, Starbury, now adorns such products.