$300 LeBron X shoes and Nike’s evolution as a company
$300 basketball shoes. That little notion is driving the entire sports world insane this week.
Some people are shocked about the price, as if no one has ever seen the price of a nice pair of Salvatore Ferragamos or any other finely crafted shoe with less than 10% the research and technology of the LeBron Xs. Some are questioning LeBron’s character, as if he twisted Nike’s arm and forced them to overprice his signature show in some sort of evil genius plan to make every single person on the planet buy his shoes by making them incredibly unaffordable. And there are those who are trying to defend the whole ordeal. Good luck to the latter; people still hate LeBron for no real conceivable reason.
For the purposes of my own sanity, let’s look past the LeBron vitriol and let’s just concentrate on these cutting edge shoes and their wallet-slicing price tag. The real issue here is a question of “want” vs. “need,” and more specifically, who “wants” and who “needs” these shoes.
We live in a relatively free world where no one is forced to buy anything. For everything you can buy there is always an alternative that is more affordable (or more expensive, if you desire). So why is everyone worked up over the price of these shoes? Nike isn’t forcing you to spend $300 — which by the way is only a rumored price and not Nike’s set price — and there is no prerequisite saying you need to own a pair to cheer for LeBron and the Heat. You don’t even need a pair of $300 LeBron Xs to get some run in a pick up game. You can buy brand new basketball shoes for under $50 and have just as much fun at the local courts as the guy in a pair of new Kobes. And if you shop diligently, you might even be able to pick up a pair of new Kobes for under $100.
Like I said: the choices are there, no one needs to own a pair of LeBron Xs. And if you’re still angry at Nike and LeBron, vote with your dollar and don’t buy the shoe.
But all of this simply applies to us, the regular Joes. Everyday “consumers,” if you will. For us, there is only really a “want” factor when it comes to these shoes. Whether we are doing it for a fashion statement or because we want to have the slightest little edge when we play our friends in a game of 21, these shoes have little utility to us. The reality is that 99% of us who will buy these shoes will see marginal gains, if any. Most of us would be better served paying a personal trainer $300 to get us in shape or to teach us how to make a left handed layup. So our need of this shoe is certainly outweighed by the wantof this shoe.
The morality of why we want these shoes is a completely different question that LZ Granderson hits out of the park in his column. As LZ mentions, there is no fault in Nike for creating these shoes or pricing these shoes and there is no fault in LeBron for endorsing Nike and the shoes they provide him with. If anything, the real issue starts and ends with each of us individually.
So, does anyone actually need Nike’s newest signature shoe? Certainly someone does — that’s why Nike created them. Who is that someone?
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