Ben Wallace Breaks out the Low Cost Sneakers - Bulls Make Playoffs

Although most, if not all of you didn't notice, our own Chicago Bulls have quietly secured a clinched a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. I haven't watched a Bulls game in quiet some time. I catch the highlights every morning on SportsCenter and it appears that Luol Deng has matured into quite a player. Ben Gordon is somewhat of a "proven commodity" and Ben Wallace has been a great anchor in with the "trees". Wallace, who's been the source of some controversy this season because of his headbands (why not let him wear them, guys? He has them on in your billboards, promo materials and tickets, right?), but he's also gaining some press for something else he's wearing.

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Wallace has joined up with Knicks guard Stephon Marbury to roll out a sneaker that retails for $14.98. You read that right: less than 15 bucks. Right now, he's wearing Marbury's shoes, but next season, he'll have his own line - The Big Ben. He's doing it for all the right reasons:

"Kids don't really understand what it takes to go out and buy a pair of $300 pair of shoes," Wallace said at a news conference on Tuesday. "We don't understand the pressure we put on our parents when we're growing up. This is one of the things where I think the parents will appreciate it a lot more than the kids right now because it eliminates so much stress from the parents. All parents want to see their kids have nice things."

There's long been talk about athletes being role models and their hesitation to assume that role. The facts are that many, many kids look up to professional athletes and want to emulate them. From sticking their tongue out ala Michael Jordan, to pumping their fist like Tiger Woods, to wearing really baggy shorts, kids want to act and wear what the pros wear. Wallace is not only sending a message to kids that it's ok to wear $15 shoes, he's trying to make it "cool". I love it. He's forgoing the big fat sneaker contracts that folks like LeBron are securing and he's making a statement. It's really nice to see an athlete take a stand like this.

I have a new-found appreciation for Big Ben. Go Bulls!

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