By Vince Grzegorek
About a week ago, I wrote a blog for my humble little alternative weekly in Cleveland about why no reasonable fan should care that LeBron’s new Nike kicks are inspired by the Bronx Bombers. Even after the flak Bron Bron caught for wearing a Yankees cap at
Jacobs Progressive Field during the Indians’ divisional series against the Yankees, I didn’t think the new shoes, replete with pinstripes, would be such a big deal. At least, I didn’t think they should be.
Of course, as the days went by and news from the blogs reached those who write for our daily newspapers, and those who produce our local daily news shows, James’s new shoes became quite the story yesterday. Locally, the Plain Dealer dedicated almost a full page of the sports section to comments received about the footwear (check out the full list of the “eloquent” comments here). Nationally, the story got play on SportsCenter, and the boys at PTI debated whether LeBron has taken his love of all things pinstriped too far, ultimately declaring that the King should have reigned in that love a little bit. [Sounds like a slow news day to me. — PL]
My take: Ideally, we’d all like our hometown athletes to be beacons of our city in all regards. So it would be great if LeBron was a rep for the Indians, Browns, Lake Erie Monsters, and even the new Cleveland Gladiators. Hell, he should be out pimping the Cleveland Orchestra and the Cleveland Museum of Art too! Instead, LeBron parties with Jay-Z in Vegas, Tom Brady wears a Yankees hat, and Paul Pierce shows his support for the New York Giants.
Still, I think LeBron’s new shoe is nothing to get upset about. In fact, LeBron and Nike have made many shoes together. There’s an entire site dedicated to his shoes. And that’s where I found that Nike and LeBron have also made an OSU style shoe. As you can read here, that doesn’t mean James is heading off to OSU after this year to play for Thad Matta. It doesn’t mean he’s slighting his hometown Akron Zips in any way. In fact, Nike and LeBron made another shoe that has a map of Akron on the sole!
LeBron is at the point of his career where his role as a Nike-sponsored businessman is fast approaching or surpassing his role as basketball player. He’s made no secret of his desire to be a billionaire, and if he’s going to get there, Nike will play a big role in that, which means this is hardly the last set of sneakers they’ll collaborate on. Would I prefer that LeBron didn’t love the Yankees and instead made a shoe based on the Tribe? Sure. But the sad truth is that our athletes owe us nothing outside of the sports they play. I’m in no mood to watch the Cavs cross their fingers over some ping pong balls in the lottery, so I want LeBron here, no matter whose baseball cap or shoes he’s wearing.
Research Request: Paul here. Many, many people over the years have told me about the time the Patriots held a logo “election” during halftime of a game back around the late ’80s, when Pat Patriot was still the man. They supposedly had one guy dressed up as Pat, someone else dressed up as a proposed newfangled spokescharacter (not Flying Elvis), paraded them both around the field, and had the fans vote by applauding. Or maybe they had giant cardboard cutouts of the two logos, instead of live actors (I’ve heard the story told both ways). Either way, the new logo was booed off the field.
I’ve heard this story enough times to believe that it’s true. Only problem is that nobody has ever provided a photo of the losing logo. If anyone can provide any visuals on this, please get in touch. Thanks.
While we’re at it: Another prototype that I’ve often heard about but never seen is the new Chiefs helmet that a play-by-play man supposedly held up in front the camera during a game about 20 years ago. If you’ve got it, let’s see it!
Uni Watch News Ticker: Good article here about how the Chargers’ equipment manager tried to prepare for the cold weather in Foxboro (with thanks to Eric Stangel). … The Sean Taylor mourn-athon continues. … Check out the third “news” item at Thebrushback.com (good find by Mike Nachreiner). … A set of 1936 White Sox pants — plus the accompanying belt! — were just up for sale on eBay (with thanks to Jason Libes). … Check out the collar on the guy on the right in this shot. “Looks like Count Chocula,” opines Greg Riffenburgh. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: The Dallas Stars are wearing an “MM” decal on their helmets and backplates in memory of front office employee Matt McKee, who died of cancer last week. … Marc Rabinowitz was watching a replay of the 1996 NHL All-Star Game and noticed that John Vanbiesbrouck’s mask-mounted camera was actually painted to match his mask. … As many of you are already aware, the NBA All-Star Game uniforms will look like this and this.
Definitely looks like one of those designs that can’t be properly assessed via an illustration — I’ll reserve judgment until I see some photographs Ah, screw it, let’s just beat the rush and start hating them now. … Meanwhile, the Chinese Basketball Association recently had its own all-star game (with thanks to Jeremy Brahm). … This just in: All players in the Pro Bowl will wear Sean Taylor’s No. 21, plus the competition committee will consider a proposal to have the entire league wear No. 21 next season, and the American flag will be redesigned to have 21 stars and 21 stripes. … Speaking of memorial gestures, I know everyone’s upset about Heath Ledger, but these brokeback moments are getting out of hand. … Awesome audio slideshow here about a 1952 game in which the Harlem Globetrotters suffered a rare loss — at the hands of a sleeve-clad Seattle Chieftains team (spectacular find by Sam Wasson). … Speaking of the Chieftains, we’ve all seen football jerseys with crotch extensions, but I’d never seen one on a basketball jersey until Warren Humphrey showed me this page — scroll down to the bottom for the horrible truth, then check out the rest of the pics for lots of sleeve-o-rama action. … Really interesting high schhool football helmet discovered by Jimmy Neilly. “The team is the Mount Diablo Red Devils,” he writes. “Two of the three prongs of a pitchfork are wrapped around the sides of the helmet, and then the middle prong is used as their helmet stripe.”