The guys over at The Association have already talked about the Starbury Ones, so you can go there if you want the full story and origin of Stephon Marbury's signature shoe. If, on the other hand, you want to know whether the shoes are actually worth the cheap pleather they were printed on, you've come to the right place.
At a mere $14.98, the price of the Starbury Ones is unprecedented. I mean, there are homeless people walking the streets of Chicago who paid more for the paper bags they rubber-banded to their feet. And since we've been taught that even the most basic basketball shoes will run you anywhere from $50 to $70, the natural assumption is that the Starbury Ones are poorly made. And yet Stephon's offical site claims that the shoes are "exactly the same as the most expensive kicks in the market." Don't know what to believe? Well open wide baby bird, 'cause momma's got a big fat nightcrawler of Truth for you.In order to review such an unprecedented shoe, I needed an unprecedented rating system, which is why I created the Starbury Shot Quantity Evaluator (TM). Just as Stephon's personal happiness is directly proportional to the number of shots he gets in any given game, the SSQE rates shoes based the "quantity of shots" ratio that determine's Marbury's relative level of post-game satisfaction:
5 Shots = An unacceptable failureMission Statement: 25+ shots
10 Shots = A slight underachievement
15 Shots = Generally sufficient
20 Shots = Strangely pleasing
25+ Shots = So close to perfect you'll probably thank God
Every pair of Starbury Ones (and, in fact, everything in the Starbury Line) comes with a tag that reads as follows:
"This is about you and me. This is about you and me changing the world. This is about you and me saying it's not about the commercials, the gimmicks, the dollar signs. This is about you and me showing the world that it can be done. Starbury is my life. This line was built on what I've been through. From Coney Island to Madison Square Garden. These are the shoes I wear on the court; these are the clothes I wear off it. This is what I believe in. I'm tired of people saying it can't be done. Change the world with me."Since Stephon is a selfish gunner with a well-earned reputation as a locker room cancer, it would be easy enough to cynically disregard these words. Just ask Larry Brown. But you've gotta admit, it sounds really good.
Availability: 5 Shots
I spent over a week trying to get my Starbury Ones, and it was a complete pain in the ass. I called the local Steve and Barry's (the only place the Starbury Line is sold) to reserve a pair. Somebody named "Debra" took my name, shoe size, and color preference, and told me I had to pick the shoes up by Saturday (they were released on Thursday). But when I showed up Thursday night, I was told by the store manager that S&B's doesn't reserve its merchandise. Even worse, all the Starbury shoes were already sold out. However, the manager assured me that another shipment was due tomorrow.
I called the next day and talked to "Lisa." I asked if the new Starbury shipment had come in, and she said no new shipments of anything were due until next week, and that there was no set day...the shipments just come in "whenever." When I asked to speak to the store manager, she informed me that she was the manager.
This process of calling and going by the store went on for an agonizing eight days. I finally found a single pair of size 13 Starbury Ones, in white. There were only two other pairs in the store; a white size 9 and a black size 11.
It shouldn't be that hard to get shoes. It really shouldn't. The sad part is, people are already selling the shoes on eBay. One schmuck is trying to sell a pair for $34.99 and charging $9.50 to ship them. Nice. Nothing like selling a $15 shoe for $45. What makes this an extra "Soon my Electro-Ray Will Destroy Metropolis" level of superdickery is that people are consciously buying shoes intended for the underprivileged for the purpose of reselling them for profit. I would like to extend a hearty "FUCK YOU" to those people.Appearance: 20 Shots
Say what you will, but the Starbury Ones look good. They don't look like $150 shoes, but they look a hell of a lot better than $15 shoes have any right to look. They're sleek and stylish without being tacky (anyone remember the Dada Spree's?). I would not be ashamed to wear these shoes in public. And if they didn't say "Starbury" on the back, I might even feel downright good about wearing them.Construction: 10 ShotsThe leather of the shoe is extremely thin. The tongue of the shoes looks like it's held in by cheap medical gauze. The insole almost fell out when I removed the paper they stuff into the shoe so it holds its shape. Simply put, it's not the best made shoe in the world. But then again, for $15 how could it be?I was tempted to rate the shoe's construction at 15 Shots, because it's the most well-crafted cheap shoe I've ever seen. However, the shoe is being touted as "exactly like" the most expensive basketball shoes on the market, and that's like saying a Big Mac is "exactly" like filet mignon. If used rigorously, these shoes will not last as long as more expensive shoes. And a Big Mac will give you a worse case of gas then a filet. I'm just sayin'.Coolness Factor: 15 ShotsI wore these shoes to a pickup basketball game. I told everybody I was wearing Starbury Ones, and I explained how much they cost and that they were created to provide affordable basketball shoes for the urban youth. I then received a steady stream of mockery for the rest of the night.But here's the thing: I was only made fun of after I told people about the shoes. Before that, nobody said anything about them. So sure, the Starbury Ones weren't wowing anybody, but nobody noticed they were "cheap shoes" until it was revealed. And mind you, some of these people are shoe fiends that absolutely must buy two copies of every pair of Air Jordans that come out, and they will not hesitate to laugh at someone for wearing Converse or low-end Nikes. So the Starbury Ones actually did an excellent job of fitting in and masquerading as middle to high-end shoes...which is exactly what they're supposed to do.Wearability: 5 ShotsThis is where the Starbury Ones fail. They just aren't comfortable. They ride high and really grip the ankle. This means that the shoes are hard to get on, rub the hell out of your ankle while you're wearing them, and then they're hard to take off. They're also rather big and clunky for basketball shoes, reminiscent of basketball shoes from the mid-90s. Fortunately (or unfortunately), the leather is thin and so the shoes are actually pretty light.Speaking of the leather...it has all the flexibility of a cardboard box. Maybe there's a breaking-in period or something, but instead of comforming to the movement of your feet, the leather actually "caves in" while you walk. This caving-in process can produce sharp little indentations that poke your feet. This doesn't just happen while you're hooping it up, either; it also happens when you're just walking around. It's both annoying and a little painful.The shoes don't have any arch support either, and there's very little padding, so it can feel like you're running up and down the court with a couple wooden planks strapped to your feet. Due to the weak sole and complete lack of arch support, it's difficult to jump and accelerate when running out on a fast break (not to mention the "clomp, clomp, clomp" sound you'll make while running). This will be a deterrent to almost anyone who plays competitive basketball, but especially to someone like me who has flat feet. By the end of the night, both of my feet were sore and my left knee was aching. I don't know how Stephon is going to get through next season playing in these things.Overall Rating: 5 or 15 ShotsThe final rating of these shoes really depends on what you're using them for. If you want something that looks cool to walk around in, then the Starbury Ones are a damn good shoe for $15. You could probably even use some gel inserts to make them more comfortable. BUT...if you expect to play basketball in them, you're going to be tragically disappointed. Not only will you end up with chronically sore feet to go along with your aching knees and ankles, the shoes aren't constructed well enough to last long under the pressure of serious balling. This isn't in the tagline, but Marbury might have created the first fully disposable basketball shoe.
(update: Steve and Barry's still doesn't have an online store. If one isn't nearby your best bet is eBay.)