FanDuel - WFBC

March 28, 2007

LeBron steps up sneaker war: ...when asked if he could envision endorsing sneakers that retail for one-tenth the price of most Nikes, James managed to take a shot at Marbury. "No, I don't think so,"..."Me being with Nike, we hold our standards high." Marbury shot back, "I'd rather own than be owned." LeBron's going to need that money for his new 35,440 ft. mansion and goal of becoming the world's first billionaire athlete.

posted by justgary to basketball at 11:47 PM - 46 comments

LeBron has been all about the money from day one (remember the Hummer?), so these comments and that house fit the pattern. He couldn't care less about project kids spending hundreds on shoes made in sweatshops. He's getting paid, and that's all that matters.

posted by dusted at 02:14 AM on March 29

He must have attended the Charles Barkley School of Role Modeling.

posted by igottheblues at 03:33 AM on March 29

Remember the days when sneakers were actually reasonably priced? I remember having all the big brands names when I was a kid, then suddenly Nike and friends became a fashion item and the price skyrocketed. They're just fucking shoes for gods sake...

posted by Drood at 03:41 AM on March 29

I don't see what becoming the world's first billionaire athlete would prove, but it's nice to have goals. I've read James considers Michael Jordan a role model while growing up. If that's true, he's familiar with the blueprint for financial success (outside of a player's contract.) Avoid major controversy, don't take any social stands, and smile for the camera. If he sticks to it, he just may get his billion.

posted by forrestv at 04:11 AM on March 29

Eventually what this will prove, again, is that you can have it all, and not really have IT.

posted by bavarianmotorworker at 06:38 AM on March 29

Is IT in you?

posted by smithers at 06:45 AM on March 29

If he sticks to it, he just may get his billion. And find out he wound up with nothing. I don't see how Charles Barkley comes into play here. Sir Charles has always been outspoken and thought-provokin'. LeBron is starting to seem vapid and annoying. His wet dreams must involve him fellating an ATM.

posted by yerfatma at 06:50 AM on March 29

I applaud Marbury for his stance in this issue. Working with disadvantaged, innner-city kids, I see many of them wearing the Starbury shoes, and they love them. An affordable shoe with a big name attached shows how ridiculous a $150 dollar shoe is. Nike's only "standard" is knowing there are people out there stupid enough to pay whatever price they slap on a product. As for LeBron and his self-indulgent crib? I'd expect nothing less. The crucial service he provides for the for the free world as we work through all these serious, global issues, from war to famine to terrorism to oil prices, a guy who throws a ball through a metal hoop deserves to live in a shopping mall.

posted by dyams at 07:14 AM on March 29

An outer wall will feature a limestone sculpture -- a bas-relief of LeBron's head, wearing his trademark headband. Okay, then.

posted by bperk at 08:47 AM on March 29

I can't fault LeBron for his outlook on this sneaker issue. I mean, com'on!! From day one before he even stepped one foot on an NBA basketball court, the Nike organization gave this kid a $90 million dollar check. What is he supposed to say? That he'll take a stand against Nike? That check will be voided in a blink of an eye if he were to do that. In this day an age, it really is all about the almighty dollar and who can get more of it than the next man. Does any of this really surprises anyone? What surprised me the most was that Stephon Marbury came out with a $15, affordable sneaker for the kids that want to wear nice looking kicks but can't afford the LeBrons or the Air Jordans. No matter the reason why Starbury decided to do this, I applaud him for it because even though I'm able to afford to purchase the LeBrons or Air Jordans, I refuse to pay those ridiculous prices for some sneaker with the swoosh logo on the side. I remember being 14 and going to Sneaker City with my mom and asking her to buy me a pair of Nikes that back then were about $90. She just gave me this look like, "Kid, you MUST be dreaming!" and she ended up buying me some Reeboks that were about $55. Ahhhh, those were the days... Now I understand why she scoffed at me back then since I do the very same thing when I pass a Footlocker with some Nikes on display for ONLY $125. Believe that? Only $125. Who are they kidding?

posted by BornIcon at 08:50 AM on March 29

What is he supposed to say? If everyone simply says, "I got mine", the world's going to be an even shittier place for people who don't. Maybe he could have said: "Don't spend money on shoes if you can't afford them, because they're just shoes and you can get 80% of the experience at Payless, even if you just take home the boxes. Please don't kill each other over these."

posted by yerfatma at 09:20 AM on March 29

I see BornIcon's point a little bit, in that once LeBron agreed to shill for Nike, that's what he has to do. I also see yerfatma's point that there are other roads that you can choose, that will perhaps enrich you less but that will enrich your world more. BornIcon, just as you refuse to ridiculous prices, LeBron has the opportunity to refuse, too -- and I don't see why a $90 million price tag makes that impossible, or really any more difficult. If he gives up that $90 million, he's still much wealthier than you or I. I'm not surprised when someone takes the big-bucks bait, but I keep hoping that more people will see the logical flaw in calling something like that an offer you can't refuse.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:32 AM on March 29

I find this shit totally boring. I don't care about your shoes, clothing line record label or statues of yourself. If it floats your boat - fine, but have a modicum of discretion. It's all in such poor taste. Sneaker wars? Really? Today I root for the terrorists. Just a little.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:37 AM on March 29

"I don't see why a $90 million price tag makes that impossible..." LBB, are you serious? We're talking about a 18 year old kid coming straight out of high school and some well known company is offering you $90 million just to endorse their product. Are you going to be like, "Well, let me see if you have sweatshops first and then we'll talk." No way! 18 years old and someone offers me a $90 million dollar check, where do I sign? Look, I agree that this topic is a little ridiculous but I don't have a problem talking about anything sports-related. This is actually something I talked about a few years ago that the prices for sneakers were getting outrageous, now they just are. The only reason I refuse to pay that much is well, because they're that much. But if I had a bank account like LeBron, the last thing I'll be looking at is a price tag.

posted by BornIcon at 10:16 AM on March 29

My argument is this, are these places truly sweat shops? In China and Korea where most of these shoes are made the wages that are paid to these workers are sometimes 2-3 times more than the average worker in their area. Just because that amount of money isn't in US dollars we shouldn't call the place a sweat shop. In China, the majority of the companies provide 3 meals a day along with housing for all employees so with wages lower they are still in a way making out. The people will be with their companies for the majority of their lives. People like Nadar make blanket statements and why should a company like Nike have to answer to lies or misleading information? I think they as well as Michael and Lebron are doing is taking the high road. Every country in the world wish they had American wages but that isn't a reality and if we are raising the wages in China for the average Chinese worker it should be looked at under that scope and not the US wage, etc.

posted by warstda at 10:27 AM on March 29

LBB, are you serious? You ask people that a lot, don't you? We're talking about a 18 year old kid coming straight out of high school and some well known company is offering you $90 million just to endorse their product. Are you going to be like, "Well, let me see if you have sweatshops first and then we'll talk." No way! 18 years old and someone offers me a $90 million dollar check, where do I sign? Perhaps you do. Perhaps most people do. Some people, on the other hand, are going to take a hard look at what someone's going to want for that money. Set aside the ethics of sweatshops for a moment, that doesn't even have to be a consideration here; you can look at this from a purely selfish perspective and still decide that there are better deals out there. You don't have to be an accountant to know that you don't need $90 million to live a very nice life. There are other possibilities, such as making less money -- but still more than you can spend (as opposed to squander) -- in return for something that's less onerous, more palatable, less time-consuming, whatever. Suggested reading: "The Temptations of Jean-Claude Killy" by Hunter S. Thompson. Dr. Gonzo understood this phenomenon long before most people even knew it was happening.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:50 AM on March 29

18 years old and someone offers me a $90 million dollar check, where do I sign? LeBron isn't 18 years old anymore. There are better ways this could have been handled. He could have said nothing when asked about the shoes. He didn't have to say Nike shoes have higher standards. He could have told Nike that he would prefer his shoes to not be made in sweatshops. There are plenty of options that fall somewhere between rejecting $90 million and putting down Marbury's efforts to make shoes affordable to kids.

posted by bperk at 10:55 AM on March 29

My argument is this, are these places truly sweat shops? In China and Korea where most of these shoes are made the wages that are paid to these workers are sometimes 2-3 times more than the average worker in their area. That's not a line of reasoning that holds a lot of water. First of all, the evidence you're using is made up (it may or may not be true, but you don't cite anything). Second, even if we assume it were true, saying someone's shitty life isn't shitty because someone else has it worse bespeaks a lack of empathy. If you have to work 16 hour days 6 or 7 days a week, getting paid twice as much as the person next door who gets $1 a month isn't all that great.

posted by yerfatma at 11:40 AM on March 29

Here's a Google Books preview of The Temptations of Jean-Claude Killy that LBB mentioned. Killy sounds like a direct precursor to shameless product shillers like Jordan and LeBron.

posted by dusted at 11:52 AM on March 29

You ask people that a lot, don't you? Yeah, actually I do. That's because I'm trying to figure out if you're actually serious or not. I agree with your point a little but your trying to say that an 18 year old would try to see the bigger picture of things when a check for $90 million dollars is dangled right in his face. Com'on now, be realistic. At 18, anyone of us would take the money and promote the shit out of those sneakers. "...take a hard look at what someone's going to want for that money" All they're asking is for LeBron to promote Nike just like MJ did and from the Gatorade commercials Jordan made, it seems everyone wanted to "Be like Mike", and this is what LeBron is doing. Why should LeBron be responsible for what Nike does if Nike has been making sneakers before LeBron was even born. The same could be said about Jordan but I don't see Jordan being besmirched for what Nike does. LeBron isn't 18 years old anymore Not now but he was 18 when Nike offered him that $90 million check though.

posted by BornIcon at 12:11 PM on March 29

Jean-Claude Van Dam wrote a book about the Temptations? No kiddin'

posted by BornIcon at 12:13 PM on March 29

There's a sucker born every minute and they come in all colors.

posted by sickleguy at 12:19 PM on March 29

I agree with your point a little but your trying to say that an 18 year old would try to see the bigger picture of things when a check for $90 million dollars is dangled right in his face. Com'on now, be realistic. I'm not "trying to say" anything. What I did say is, "Perhaps you do. Perhaps most people do. Some people, on the other hand, are going to take a hard look at what someone's going to want for that money." Do you see the difference between that and "an 18 year old would try to see the bigger picture"? I'm saying that not everyone, and that includes 18-year-olds, is incapable of taking other matters into consideration when a bunch of zeroes is dangled in front of him. I'm saying that not everyone is stupid enough to not understand that you can live large on a lot less than $90 million. LeBron did what he did, and maybe you would have done the exact same in his position, but not everybody would make the same choices. Not everybody is incapable of seeing the bigger picture, or at least knowing that there is a bigger picture.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 12:41 PM on March 29

LBB, I understand your point, I really do, but honestly, at 18, the question remains if you were in his shoes (preferably Nike if you're LeBron) and Nike offered you $90 million to endorse their product, would you say, "I'll endorse your sneaker line but I really don't need THAT much." Of course you can "live large on a lot less than $90 million" but if that's whats being offered to you, are you going to give it back? The issue isn't about how much you can live off from, the question is, why would someone that's never seen that much money in their lives, feel responsible over something they have no control over? LeBron just plays ball, I think we, as a society, expect too much from these athletes when in fact, most of them, regardless what sport it is, are just kids with big bank accounts. Some are aware of social issues & current events and some are not. Then there are others that just don't care as long as they get paid. We are still talking about sneakers though, right?

posted by BornIcon at 01:01 PM on March 29

I don't think it would cost LeBron anything to say to Nike: "I really like your shoes, but I would feel a lot more comfortable if the shoes with my name on them are not made in a sweatshop. Is that something that we can work out? I think it would really help my image." It is not too much to ask for a man to stand up for something, anything, besides his pocketbook. Chris Webber ended his Nike contract because he didn't feel comfortable marketing a shoe for $140 to inner-city kids. It happens.

posted by bperk at 01:23 PM on March 29

See BI - that's the way they want you to think. That the only rational reaction to being offered a shitload of money is to say yes. When your integrity is for sale, the question merely becomes price - so perhaps lbb's point was that James was/is in no danger of not making a mint, so your position isn't necessarily the only rational reaction. I feel strongly that this kind of ethos is damaging to the growth of our socie- (I'm sorry, what?.... $50?... For what?.... Really?.... In my mouth?.... Are you gonna tell anyone?... Hang on-) Guys. I gotta go.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 02:13 PM on March 29

See BI - that's the way they want you to think. That the only rational reaction to being offered a shitload of money is to say yes. Yup. That's really what I was getting at. The sweatshop issue, while important, isn't central to my main point: it could be sweatshops, or it could be that they insist you wear a tie every moment that you're not on the court, or it could be that you'll have to make at least two weekly appearances during the season and four weekly appearances in the offseason, or it could be that you have to live in Hoboken. Whatever. The point is that if you're a hot property, like LeBron James, you have more options, and all of them are going to be paying a comfortable living wage and then some. And, to answer your other statement, whether I expect (or hope for, that's more accurate) too much of high-priced athletes is a subjective judgment, but I really don't hope for anything different when I'm looking at, say, a technology worker who's a hot property and has plenty of job offers. I hope that this person is going to be able to say, "Okay, what do I really need, what's enough and then some?" and then look at all the options that are at or above that level -- not as equal, precisely, because they're not, but as options where the money is good enough, that should then be evaluated using some other criteria. If you can't do that, if money is paramount, and the amount of money is paramount, and it overrides everything else, then you really don't have any options. You're helpless. You have to take the highest bidder's offer and do whatever they want you to. And then you are a wage slave, or maybe addict is a better term. (now excuse me, I gotta get Weedy some kneepads and some Scope)

posted by lil_brown_bat at 02:51 PM on March 29

Not me!!!!!! I'm taking the 90 mil. I dont care if their wooking in sweat shops with guns to their heads. gimmie the cash and make those sneakers bro........

posted by USAGTO at 03:31 PM on March 29

Regarding the race to be the 1st billionaire athlete, LeBron is only about $800 Million behind Tiger Woods, that is unless someone wants to display their ignorance by proclaiming Tiger is 'not' an athlete.

posted by jaygolf at 03:37 PM on March 29

I'll stick with these bad boys

posted by HATER 187 at 03:42 PM on March 29

I did not like Stephon Marbury (I'm a huge Knicks fan...till the reign of Thomas) until I read this article. 'I'd rather own than be owned' A classic.

posted by sfts2 at 03:46 PM on March 29

I dont care if their wooking in sweat shops with guns to their heads. gimmie the cash and make those sneakers bro........ I hope you manage to buy everything you want and find happiness in that. But I doubt it.

posted by yerfatma at 07:36 PM on March 29

LeBron has no responsibility for anything that NIKE does. He gets paid to wear their products and appear in their commercials. Last time I saw a NIKE commercial there were about 9-10 NBA players in it. Why LeBron? Why now? NIKE has always made shoes in 3rd world countries. What happens in 3rd world countries? Sweatshops and child-labor. That's the reason that NIKE is there in the first place. Are we really that naive? If you don't agree with what NIKE is doing, the only thing you can do personally is NOT buy their shit. END OF STORY!

posted by yay-yo at 08:36 PM on March 29

Here is just how horrible lebron is.

posted by jojomfd1 at 12:42 AM on March 30

LeBron has no responsibility for anything that NIKE does. He gets paid to wear their products and appear in their commercials. It would seem to me that means the exact opposite of what you asserted.

posted by yerfatma at 05:40 AM on March 30

I think everyone's opinion on this subject is valid to an extent. We all wish that there were no such a thing as sweatshops but when you buy something and the little sticker on it says, "Made in China", does anyone say to themselves, "Maybe I shouldn't be buying this (Insert favorite team name here) jersey because it might of been made in a sweatshop" I mean, it's a solid issue but isn't that why we have a government in the 1st place? Maybe they should manufacture their product in American soil but the reason they don't is because the cost to make & manufacture said product costs a fraction of the price in these 3rd world countries then they would in the US. It cost around $2 - $10 to make a sneaker and then over $100 to sell. It's pretty much the same with a lot of products but because LeBron James is a known name, people expect him to make a difference. The thing is, people forget that he's actually doing things here in the United States to help out within the inner city community, but that's enough? (thanks for the link, jojomfd1) We can only imagine what happens in these countries but to be honest, I have a hard enough time dealing with issues here in the homefront as it is than to be worried about what ordeal someone in Japan or El Salvador has to wake up to. I'm not saying I don't care or that LeBron James doesn't care about these issues (not like I know whether he actually does care or not) but we don't know for a fact that LeBron James' sneakers are made in a sweatshop, we're just all assuming that they are. A lot of athletes actually do charity work or have foundations in place to help out their communities since they have the resources to help but a lot of that does in fact gets unnoticed.

posted by BornIcon at 07:25 AM on March 30

I think everyone's opinion on this subject is valid to an extent. We all wish that there were no such a thing as sweatshops but when you buy something and the little sticker on it says, "Made in China", does anyone say to themselves, "Maybe I shouldn't be buying this (Insert favorite team name here) jersey because it might of been made in a sweatshop" I mean, it's a solid issue but isn't that why we have a government in the 1st place? I'm not sure I agree that this is an issue for the government to solve, or at least, not alone. If you've got a concern with a business practice whose end products are on the shelves of your stores, I think you do have a responsibility to walk your talk, and purchase according to your concerns. And, in answer to your question, people do do this. Contemporary US society is very consumerist, and most people nowadays tend to be blown away by all the cheap consumer junk on the shelves, but it wasn't so long ago that more people did look at where products came from ("look for the union label" is just one example). Now, mind you, government has definitely played a role in getting us to where we are today. Public policy has led to the flight of the garment industry, first from the unionized mills and factories of New England to the so-called "right to work" states of the South, and thence overseas to China. Why, you ask, would government do such a brain-dead thing? Well, first off, our government's not monolithic. Different states and agencies of the federal government act in what they perceive to be their own interest, which may be to the detriment of other states or agencies, and which may be to their own long-term detriment. Secondly, and probably more important, it's a case of some losing while some gain. Apparel, electronics (remember Texas Instruments?), meat packing, many other industries -- the trend has been for American workers in the industry to lose out as their real wages go down or their jobs are lost altogether, while a few at the top of the food chain make out like bandits, and the average American consumer gets supersized goods and services for cheap. The rabble has its bread and circuses, and when you set things up that way, you get a lot of leeway. Despite that, there are people nowadays who do make ethical individual purchasing decisions, and there are movements and organizations that promote ethical commerce. One example that's relevant to the subject at hand is United Students Against Sweatshops, an organization of college students who work to remove sweatshop-produced apparel from campus stores. You might take a look at their website, where there's currently some front page stuff on Nike. We can only imagine what happens in these countries but to be honest, I have a hard enough time dealing with issues here in the homefront as it is than to be worried about what ordeal someone in Japan or El Salvador has to wake up to. I can't speak to your personal situation. It is an individual decision that is inspired by ethics but often constrained by resources; many Americans can't afford to do their shopping anywhere but Wal-Mart, as a result of these self-same economic policies. However, I would guess that sweatshop laborers in El Salvador (probably not in Japan, which last I heard was a developed industrialized country with a very high standard of living) would find any amount of action, no matter how small, to be worth more than any amount of worry. I also observe that Americans buy a lot of things that we don't need and don't even really use. I'm not the sackcloth-and-ashes type -- no one who owns more than one pair of skis can lay claim to that -- but I make a conscious effort to not buy things unless I'll get lots of use out of them. This gives me some more leeway to make more ethical purchases: if I can get past that consumer-junkie impulse to bellow, "Wow! Sweatshirts for $9.99! Gimme six!!!", I realize that I don't need six sweatshirts -- and when I'm buying just one or two, then I can afford to pay more for them. BTW, and somewhat belatedly, thanks for the discussion. It's been a good one.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:21 AM on March 30

A lot of athletes actually do charity work or have foundations in place to help out their communities since they have the resources to help but a lot of that does in fact gets unnoticed. And a lot of people don't realize just what kind of tax havens these Foundations are. I'm not suggesting that's the primary motivation, but let's go with full disclosure here.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:41 AM on March 30

BTW, and somewhat belatedly, thanks for the discussion. It's been a good one Thanks LBB, you too. I rather enjoyed your diatribe about this subject. You made some very solid points and I commend you for it. It's good to see that people can in fact differ in opinions but can still listen to what someone else has to offer. Thanks for the website link, very interesting read. Now please, breathe~

posted by BornIcon at 09:04 AM on March 30

let's go with full disclosure here. I'm not wearing any pants.

posted by yerfatma at 09:07 AM on March 30

BornIcon, I'm curious: if you think my remarks were a "diatribe", what would you call your own? (or maybe it's just that that word does not mean what you think it means)

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:17 AM on March 30

What ever happened to the 9 dollars converse black or white all-stars. Anybody looked at the price today. Somewere between 39 and 49 dollars at your local Big 5 sporting goods store or Footlocker. When converse first came on the market they only had to worry about Jack Parsells and they were really for playing tennis. Converse still even today are great shoes for playing street or gym basketball. Adidas started out selling for 20-30 dollars and everyone was having fits. Try getting a pair for until 50 dollars today and some of them go for 150+. Anybody know if anyone in the NBA is still wearing converse all-stars?

posted by ucla512 at 10:30 AM on March 30

Considering that the word "diatribe" comes from the Greek word diatribe' meaning: pastime, lecture, to consume and two of the synonyms are: amusement & study, I think I have an inkling of what the word means. I didn't mean for you to take it as if I was belittling your post but you have to admit, within all that solid information that you provided along with the link to the website for United Students Against Sweatshops, it was a pretty long post which meant that you gathered a lot of information about this specific subject (i.e. lecture, study) which 'amused' me. I enjoy having a conversation with someone that knows what they're talking about, is all I meant my friend. No disrespect intended~ "...if you think my remarks were a "diatribe", what would you call your own?" I think sometimes my remarks are long-winded and full of shit at times but nevertheless, I try to remain upbeat and humorous. I really try not to take myself too seriously.

posted by BornIcon at 10:50 AM on March 30

I'm not wearing any pants. You kill me. Just perfect.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:52 AM on March 30

It was shameless stolen from David Letterman back on NBC. YouTube is blocked at work so I dunno if the link still works, but it makes me want to keep working in this industry that I can type "letterman gumbel pants" into a box and get back a 20 year old video clip as the first result. Maybe Google is just as sophomoric as I am

posted by yerfatma at 11:25 AM on March 30

Yeah, the link works just fine. I saw the clip and was laughing so hard, my boss asked me what was so funny. I showed him the clip and he just started laughing as hard as I was. He actually said he remembers watching that Letterman episode back in '85 when it was happening. Good stuff yerfatma, good stuff~

posted by BornIcon at 12:28 PM on March 30

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