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Getting off on the wrong foot with LeBron

If the shoe fits, get LeBron James to buy it for you. That's what I wanted to do recently when I went to the Nike Factory Store in Riverhead to purchase a pair of sneakers.

I like to think that LeBron and I have something in common: He can dunk and I've reached the age where I am starting to dribble.

But there is no question that, because LeBron has made millions playing basketball and I had to take a vow of poverty when I went into journalism, he has more money than I do.

So I was hoping he would help me out financially if I decided to get a pair of his LeBron X shoes, which are retailing for about $300.

Unfortunately, the superstar wasn't in the store when my wife, Sue, and I showed up on a busy Saturday. But I didn't need him because I was helped by a friendly and knowledgable sales associate named Sattarock Blackwood.

"I'd like to try on a pair of the LeBron X shoes," I told Satty, as he is known to his friends and customers. My mistake, not surprising because I am an uncool geezer, was saying "X," as in the letter, not "X," as in the Roman numeral for 10.

Satty, a cool young person (he's XXI), politely ignored my gaffe and replied, "We don't have any. They sold out in one day."

As a man who can best be described as economically challenged, I couldn't understand how so many people could afford to shell out so much money for a product that doesn't include a roof and an attached garage.

"They're expensive," Satty acknowledged. "I designed 28 styles of LeBron X's, but I couldn't afford to buy them."

"You designed the shoes?" I asked, flabbergasted.

"Actually," Satty said, "I went online to the Nike website. I mixed and matched colors and different elements like wings and Kevlar laces and carbon fiber soles for the LeBron X. You can do it, too."

"Can I design my own shoe?" I wondered.

"Sure," said Satty. "You'll have to come up with a symbol for yourself. LeBron has the crown, for King James."

"Maybe I'll use a Z," I said. "It could stand for my last name. Or zero, so my shoe could be the Jerry 0. That's how much it would be worth."

Since I could never see Nike putting its "Swoosh" logo on my sneakers, I asked Satty if I could try on a pair of LeBron 9 Elite Away shoes, which were going for $179.

"They look like ski boots," Sue said of the black size 11s.

"Or Frankenstein shoes," I said. "But they feel good."

"I think you look cool," Satty said.

"Hon," said Sue, "if they could help you play basketball like LeBron James, you could quit your day job."

Unfortunately, it was a Catch-XXII: I couldn't even afford the lesser-priced LeBron shoes that could have made me a multimillionaire basketball star, so I looked at other kinds, such as walking shoes, running shoes and training shoes.

"You don't have lounging shoes, do you?" I asked.

"No," Satty answered. "I think those are called slippers."

I settled for a pair of white trainers, which were almost as comfortable as slippers. They didn't have wings or Kevlar laces or carbon fiber soles, and they didn't have anyone's symbol on the back, but they did come with a great price tag: $49.99.

"You got a good deal," Sue said.

"And you still look cool," Satty added.

"Thanks," I said as I strolled out. "If you happen to see LeBron, tell him he missed out on a terrific bargain."

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