The Serpent and the Cash Flow

By Michael-Louis Ingram
Updated: November 5, 2008

PHILADELPHIA– In the world of sports and pop culture, they identify the depths of marketability, profitability and inevitability. The Serpent, the Beast; simultaneously feeding and greedily gobbling at every opportunity to gorge on misfortune, bias and negativity while shittin’ out slander, salacity and spuriousness.

As this waste matter is splattered upon its very selective targets by those smarmy, scurrilous swamp sows and putrid penile pigs feeding at mainstream media’s trough, the numerator to this fractioned reality is the selling of papers, the advertising spots on radio and television which keep the Serpent’s hunger at bay while it splashes in its symbiotic cesspool; to hell with what we say and who we say it to — as long as the cash doth flow.

You can tell when its predator’s eye locks on a target; stalking with such nonchalance the prey remains oblivious to it until it is too late. In New York City, that new target has now become New York Knickerbockers’ guard Stephon Marbury.

The front page of the November 1 edition of the Daily News has Marbury in street clothes, sitting on the Knicks’ bench as a healthy scratch for every game the team has played thus far.

His current reward for such effort is $801,219 or $267,073 per game; and, according to the Daily News, Marbury is sporting a “$22 million dollar grin.”

The new Knick regime — current head coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Donnie Walsh — have personified through their actions their desire to ostracize Marbury, hoping he will lose his cool and snap; providing some means to expedite the release of their commitment to him.

But before the situation deteriorates further, I’d like for you all to pause and consider the following:

No matter what you may think of Marbury’s talent, he was apparently talented enough to convince the Knicks to shell out $22 million for his services.

Don’t hate the player — hate the payer.

Second, while the Serpent hisses and spews dissent, no mention of the countless millions the Knicks organization wasted on stiffs like Christian Welp, who made far more mortgage payments than layups abroad as a “developmental” player.

And while every effort by local media seeks to vilify Marbury, I can think of some headlines the Serpent conveniently overlooks:

That from the mid 1980s and throughout the end of that decade, teenagers and young adults across this country were being killed for expensive sneakers and Starter jackets.

The desire to acquire a pair of Air Jordans caused many young men to not rest in peace because of the violence exacted upon them — for a fucking jacket or pair of shoes.

Many forget Stephon Marbury tried to do something about that.

Now, Marbury wasn’t the first; Patrick Ewing tried, and so did Shaquille O’Neal.

But Marbury was the only one to do his homework, and produce a stylish, comfortable basketball shoe whose mass-production cost put Nike, Reebok, and adidas to shame.

The “Starbury” sneaker sold at a retail price of $14.98; and Marbury gave thousands of pairs of shoes to area school kids.

It didn’t look cheap, feel cheap or wore cheap; and for a time, it gave many families a reason to avoid the noise and hype while combining fashion with practicality.

Marbury also created a line of casual wear — hoodies (“bunny hugs” as they are called in Canada) sweatshirts, jerseys and jackets — all having the “it” factor of style without the “if” factor of whether someone wearing the clothes or shoes would forfeit their life for them.

This further hit home recently while on the New York City subway. While in the subway car headed downtown as more people were filing out at each stop, I spotted the following among the remaining passengers:

Two people at a bench across and down from me, a middle – aged Latina woman and a boy in his preteens. On his head, a New York Yankees cap, in the classic interlocking “NY” but in a black and gold color scheme; and a crown adorning the “Y” on the logo – clearly a design with the Latin Kings in mind.

Three others, young Black males also with Yankee caps, but with a blue and white color scheme and paisleys all over the caps; a scheme designed to attract Crips and wannabe Crips.

Although Major League Baseball won’t admit it, these designs had their blessing because since the bad old days of the 1980s, pandering to the drug and gang culture has been part of the Serpent & the Cash Flow strategy.

But no headlines as to how many young lives Stephon Marbury has saved because he provided a cost – effective and attractive alternative to Nigga Rich bling and the peer pressure that came with wearing Bo – Bos (Bo – Bos! They make your feet feel fine! Bo – Bos! They cost a dolla ninety – nine…)

In as many ways as the Serpent desires to trick bag young men into being “role models”, Marbury was doing just that with very little fanfare.

But because that won’t sell nearly as many papers as a disgruntled, overrated Black basketball player, it gets a paragraph instead of a front page.

The Brooklyn born Marbury, for whatever human failings, has always looked out for his home and home fans. If a trade and / or martyrdom are to be residuals from this New York experience, I will endeavor to focus on what mattered most; every time I walk to the store in my size 12 Starburys – like thousands of other grateful parents will.