thoughtful article tracing the shoe wars back to Air Jordans, Reagan's War on Drugs and mass incarceration.
Whitlock writes: "The outraged, well-intentioned critics of Adidas’ initial decision to
launch the 'JS Roundhouse Mids' are upset about the wrong thing. They
think the shackled shoes are connected to America’s despicable history
of African-American slavery. They’re wrong. The shoes are an attempt to
capitalize off America’s despicable drug war and subsequent mass
incarceration of minority men of color."
Whitlock connects the shoe wars with Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow," identifying the massive incarceration increases in the United States in the last thirty years based primarily on a failed drug war, and recognizes that when you have a massive prison underclass, it becomes a potential profit stream at which marketing efforts can be aimed. In this way, the shoe wars have escalated to the point that placing shackles on basketball shoes seems like a smart marketing ploy to misguided shoe designers sitting in Adidas' development meetings.
Indeed, the National Basketball Association has sought and continues to seek to profit from urban, hip hop and prison culture, while at the same time distancing itself (see NBA Dress Code as Pre-text for Racial Discrimination) from that very culture that it hopes to exploit for gain.