It is certainly no secret that basketball shoes are a hot commodity in the global market and the highly coveted items command higher and higher prices every year. But for those of us who remember, it wasn’t always like this. Not just in today’s prices, but in the comfort and protection offered by today’s high-tech shoes. In fact, people in my age bracket remember wearing the famous “Chuck Taylor All Stars” which were little more than a small width of foam rubber soles covered in cotton canvas. The shoes looked a lot like rubber sandals compared to today’s shoes.
Back then, players wore the shoes to play basketball almost exclusively. The scenes of players wearing the shoes, then tying the laces together and pulling them over their shoulders as they left the gym are a picture of the past. In more iconic photos, famed Olympian, Jesse Owens, wears the famous shoes which in his day were dubbed the official shoe of the United States Olympic Team. The famous Chuck Taylors debuted in 1917 and were then redesigned 100 years ago in 1922. Since then, the shoe has enjoyed immense popularity over the years, peaking in the 1960s and then declining in the 1970s when other brands, such as Adidas have entered. the market for basketball and other sports athletic shoes. The Converse Chuck Taylors are still a popular casual shoe today in its low-cut style.
The shoes’ namesake, Chuck Taylor, was a semi-professional basketball player who later became a salesman at Converse Shoes. Converse is now a subsidiary of Nike; change that took place in 2003 when Nike paid $309 million to acquire the historic brand. For those who played on the hardwood back then with the Converse legends, I’m amazed that more players haven’t suffered more from paid shin and lower back splints due to the lack of absorption of the shocks in the shoes. But for all of us who wore the shoes, we didn’t know better… it was the best thing on the market at the time.
But with the growth in the popularity of basketball, its players, and the star power that those players have brought to publicity, the prices of basketball shoes have soared to meteoric heights over the years. In fact, in a list of the ten most sought-after shoes by collectors, the cheapest pair of shoes, according to the website luxactic.com, cost $2,500.
The list of the ten most searched shoes, according to luxactic.com, is as follows:
10. Nike Air Force One: $2,500
9. Air Jordan XI: $2,700
8. Addidas Golden KBB: $3,000
7. Air Jordan V: $10,000
6. Nike Air Mag: $12,000
5. Air Jordan I: $25,000
4. Nike Air Zoom Kobe 1: $30,000
3. Air Jordan VI: $35,000
2. Air Jordan III: $50,000
- Reebok issue: $65,000
The ancient supply/demand principle elevates these iconic shoes and brands to the prices they command from collectors. Fans of the game are more than willing to pay extortionate prices for celebrity-endorsed shoes, and maybe that’s a topic for another story. I remember taking my son to St. Louis to watch the Cardinals play a regular season baseball game. We had very good tickets and I took him into the stadium as soon as the gates opened. I was eager to point out some of the players on both teams that I have followed who may one day enter the Baseball Hall of Fame. As I pointed out who the players were, I will never forget; he was more impressed with the shoes they were wearing than the players themselves!
But one thing is clear, we all have a price we are willing to pay for designer shoes and popular shoes, especially for those who are big fans of the game. And our shoe-approving gamer heroes still make them more attractive to buyers. And the market charges what it thinks we are willing to pay; and we gave the market the impression that we will pay dearly for these shoes.
For me, it will be a long time, if ever, that I will pay about the price of the cheapest model in this history. But, it’s me… the last of the big spenders!