Rather, his namesake royal slippers, the sooo-2011 “LeBron 9″ basketball shoes, are headed for that great footlocker in the sky.
Out with old, in with the new “LeBron X” shoe, expected sometime this fall.
And what a shoe it is. A top-of-the-line version of the Nike creation comes sumptuously equipped with onboard motion sensors that compute how high you sky and how far you dash. They’re better appointed than the ’82 Plymouth I bought in college for $600 — with a sticker in the same neighborhood.
Sneakerheads will have to pay a king’s ransom for that tricked-out model, somewhere north of $300, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Shockingly, that’s not a misprint. And although I may have issues with the sweatshops that manufacture Nike’s goods for pennies on the dollar, I have no beef with the shoe company’s selling swag for whatever the market will bear.
What I cannot bear is how the yearning to own the latest Cadillac shoe often drives those who least can afford the luxury into a fit of consumer madness.
It’s why Marc Morial of the National Urban League recently appealed to Nike’s corporate responsibility, imploring the shoe seller not to trot out the pricey kicks. As he told the Journal: “This is not food; this is not rent; it’s a single pair of sneakers.”
The deflating thing is that the Urban League chief realizes that throngs of inner-city consumers are all too willing to forgo meals or risk a knock at the door from the landlord to scrounge up the cash to buy themselves or their pleading kids a pair of delusions. That, somehow, lacing up the latest marketing mirage gives luster to lives dulled by poverty and limited opportunity.
Likewise, from bitter memory, Morial knows the dangerous combination of slick marketing and crushing deprivation.
In the early ’90s, some poor blacks thought nothing of taking a life to take someone’s shoes, seduced by what Sports Illustrated then described as “a fantasy-fueled market for luxury items in the economically blasted inner cities.”
Two decades later, YouTube satirizes the mad pursuit with clips of sneaker-seekers camping out or standing in impossibly long lines, and witnesses delighting newscasters with outrageous accounts of trampled shoppers. For sneakers. A frenzy fanned by sneaker collectors and speculators who raise interest and the prices.
Brawls, vandalism and disorder marked Nike’s 2011 reboot of its most popular Michael Jordan line, the Air Jordan 11 Concords. Central Florida wasn’t immune. In February, riot police converged on an Orlando Foot Locker to corral stampeding shoppers angling for the new LeBron 9 Galaxy and Foamposite Galaxy sneakers.
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