Just as I can give a seal of approval on products, I can also take that seal away.
Some time ago, I was actually impressed by basketball playe Stephon Marbury's promise to help create a low-cost sports footwear product so that families wouldn't have to play $75 (at the minimum) for a pair of sneakers. He endorsed the Starbury sneaker, which was sold exclusively at Steve & Barry's shops throughout the country at a base price of $14.95 per pair.
Personally, I have a problem with wearing sneakers like Nike, Reebok and the like, in that their shoes are manufactured in third world countries by people earning approximately 25 cents a week, while they're assembling the shoes by using toxic, poisonous glues and chemicals - just so kids can spend $100 for a pair of Air Jordans or the like.
For years, the only sneakers I would consider putting on my feet were Converse Chuck Taylor canvasback sneaks, because I knew they were manufactured in America by union men and women, who were earning a union wage. Plus, the sneaks looked cool - sort of that emo skateboarding thing. But Converse got bought by Nike, and the Chuck Taylors got moved to Vietnam with the rest of the shoe production market.
That's why, when Steve & Barry's started selling Starbury sneakers, I was intrigued. I purchased a few pair and wore them as my regular sneakers. Yeah, the quality wasn't the greatest (hey, they were at least better than going to Woolworth's and buying a pair of Bobos), but I figured at $14.98 a pair, they could last a year or two and I could buy another pair when the ones I owned wore out.
Unfortunately, that changed today.
One of my pair of Starburys was pretty much worn down to the sole, so I knew it was time for an new pair. I went over to Steve & Barry's, and surprisingly the shoes were nowhere to be found. Apparently the contract with Stephon Marbury was cancelled, the shoes were sold off, and all that was left were some godawful basketball jerseys with the Starbury logo and MARBURY 3 on the back. And those will only be there until the local Steve & Barry's shuts down for good.
So I thought to myself. Do I really want to wear something that would advertise one of the most selfish, self-centered basketball cancers in the NBA today, even though his shoes were cheap? And this from yours truly, who would eschew a LeBron James jersey or a Kevin Garnett Celtics mufti in favor of a retro Brooklyn High Flyers #8 Rucker League jersey in honor of the great Fly Williams, the man who once scored 55 points in the first half of a Rucker League all-star game and then switched sides and scored 45 points for the other team in the second half?
Pfft. Easy choice. Bye bye Starburys.
I went down to the other end of the mall to the Shoe Depot, bought a pair of dress shoes instead, and decided I would wear what was left of my three pair of Starburys until the shoes fell apart for good. Then I would worry about getting a new pair of sneaks at another time.
So Stephon Marbury, you have lost the Chuck Miller seal of approval. Ta ta to your cheapo shoes, at least until you sign up with another shoe company - because maybe, after all, kids can now wear those Starburys in game situations - sitting on the bench and getting paid to stay there.