Stephon Marbury, the former NBA star and now possibly China’s most famous basketball player, grew up poor in Coney Island, New York. His upbringing is what inspired him in 2006 to launch a line of “NBA quality” sneakers that cost just $14.98, called the Starbury One. Nearly anyone could afford them, but after a few years the line folded, as did Marbury’s NBA career.
Now the Starbury is apparently coming back. While details on who will make the shoe, and its design and price, have yet to be released, Marbury has been teasing its revival via his Instagram and Twitter accounts, and sharing plenty of concept drawings with notes promising, “coming soon.” Quartz has reached out to Marbury for comment and will update this post with any response.
For kids and their parents in impoverished neighborhoods, who want decent basketball sneakers but may not have $150 or more for a pair of Jordans, it would certainly be a welcome return. Basketball sneakers can be a genuine cause of strain in low-income families, and Marbury has always emphasized, then and now, that the quality of the sneakers is just as good as anything else you’ll see on a professional basketball court.
“The shoes we have are the exact shoes people are spending $200 on,” Marbury said when he first released them. And he’s still saying it. Yesterday (Oct. 4), Marbury posted on Twitter:
Back in 2006, the president of Steve & Barry’s, the company Marbury partnered with to make and distribute the sneakers, told the Daily News that it could sell the sneakers for so little by basically eliminating unnecessary costs. For the Starbury line, there was no advertising budget, and the company made everything itself, without having to pay middlemen. (A company such as Nike needs to defray costs, including advertising and constant research and development, across its products.) But Steve and Barry’s has since filed for bankruptcy, and Marbury has reportedly been looking for a way to relaunch his shoe.
Despite the lack of concrete details, Marbury is adamant that his shoe is on its way back to the market:
And he has hinted that it will be made in his adopted homeland:
If the line is resurrected, it would certainly be a victory for Marbury. The failure of his shoe, the death of his father, and the end of his own troubled NBA career left him in deep depression at the end of the 2000s.
Marbury has since focused on resurrecting his career in China, and he’s now probably the country’s most successful basketball player. He just led his team, the Beijing Ducks, to their third title in four years. There is literally a statue of him outside the arena where he plays, and he was just put on a postage stamp.
The Starbury could be another win for him, and—as he points out—for kids who need affordable sneakers, too.