Sunday, December 26, 2010

My New Kicks and it's not quite what you think.....

A few days ago, I saw a mad rush of postings on Facebook with people mentioning the various new pairs of basketball shoes (or kicks for the new generation) that they had picked up, including the Nike Air Jordan 11 Retro shoes that had been released.

Feeling left out, I might as well announce what new pair of shoes arrived at my doorstep this past week. Please take a look at the image below.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am now the proud owner of a pair of "Li-Ning BD Doom" Basketball shoes.   For the uninitiated, Li-Ning is a China based sportswear company started by retired and Hall of Fame Chinese gymnast Li-Ning.  The "BD Doom" is the signature shoe of former Golden State Warrior and current Los Angeles Clipper guard Baron Davis.

People may ask why I decided to get a pair of Li-Ning shoes.  There are quite a few reasons why.  First of all, the price was right.  At retail, the price was $100 and I thought that was a little too high for my taste.  The most I had ever spent on a pair of basketball shoe was $95 back around 1994 (Nike CB-34 Air Max's I believe).

However, there was a sale and with a discount code, I was able to knock down the price of the BD Doom to a more reasonable level.  It still wasn't cheap but I thought it worth it to give the shoe a shot.

With the exception of Charles Barkley's shoes in 1994, I've never been a fan of high priced sneakers.  Through the years, I've decided to stay in the $50 to $60 range for basketball shoes. I also generally buy my shoes at discount stores or outlets.  It's a balance between price and performance.  I will also freely admit that I don't care how my shoes look as long as they are comfortable.

The last reason I decided to buy the Li-Ning BD Doom shoe was that I've had a fascination with the Li-Ning brand since I heard about them back around 2006.   I believe I had heard about Li-Ning because the company had signed NBA player (not in league anymore) Damon Jones to wear their shoes.    Yes, it was the same Damon Jones who played briefly with my hometown team, the Golden State Warriors.

What was even more interesting was that Shaquille O'Neal later signed on to Li-Ning as well.  O'Neal was past his prime and with the Heat at the time but the fact that a Chinese company made headway caught my attention.   Unfortunately, none of the shoes that Jones and O'Neal wore were available in the US.  I remember reading at the time that the signings were done to allow Li-Ning to dip their toes in US waters and get a little exposure.

While none of Li-Ning's products were available in the US, they were available in Asia.  I made two trips to China for vacation (Spring 2006 / Fall 2007) and made my searches for Li-Ning products.  In 2006, I ended up with a tank top and shorts.  Alas, I was on a tour and time to shop was somewhat limited.  That was a little disappointing.

However, in 2007, I was on a tour for the first half of my vacation and was out with others self exploring in the second half.  This was the year I got my share of Li-Ning gear.  I picked up a windbreaker jacket and a pair of low top shoes.  The shoes were supposedly were for basketball but to me they looked more like causal lifestyle shoes.   The shoes were marketed toward the Spanish market and the only shoe that had more size (Size 10).  I guess Chinese feet are a little smaller than American feet though I don't think my feet are all that big.  Also, the pricing of Li-Ning shoes were like Nike and Adidas in the US.  There were high end models and lower end models.  However, due to the sizing issues,  I could not pick up a true basketball shoe.

Fast forward to 2010.  Li-Ning has now established a US headquarters, store and web presence.  Baron Davis was signed as an endorser and his shoes are available through Li-Ning, Champs and East Bay.

I might not have been the first to pick up some BD Doom's, but I do certainly count myself as an early supporter of the Li-Ning brand.  I have nothing against Nike or other big brands as I have had plenty of their shoes over the years.  However, I've always been a fan of the underdog.  So now I am a proud owner of a pair of BD Doom's.  I won't be wearing them for a while as I have a couple of pairs of shoes I am wearing that are holding up though they have taken a beating.

There may be some who question why I am getting a pair of shoes from a Chinese company due to quality and/or design issues.  To that I will say that there are more NBA players sponsoring Chinese brands that you might realize.  Baron Davis and Even Turner are with Li-Ning.  Kevin Garnett signed on with Anta and Jason Kidd (among others) are with Peak.

Just with everything in life, keep an open mind.  Try the shoes out and see if they are comfortable.  If you don't like them, that's fine.  But don't believe things people say until you see it for yourself.

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