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Francisco Lindor's new signature baseball cleat. Source: @NB_Baseball (Twitter)

The NBA's sneaker culture has helped drive a multi-billion dollar industry while simultaneously bringing players and fans closer than ever before.

What's happening: Some companies are putting in the work to find out if those same principles can apply to other sports.

  • Just Dishin, an online apparel store, produces "skins" to transform standard hockey skates into custom designs. They also worked with an artist to produce the Air Jordan 1 skate pictured below. It's not for sale, but gets people talking about what's possible.
  • New Balance made Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor just the third MLB player with a signature cleat (above), joining Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. The effervescent superstar is among the select few players who could reach cross-cultural relevance a la Ken Griffey Jr., whose classic Swingman shoe is still making waves in 2021.
Courtesy @JustDishin (Twitter)

The backdrop: Since the Air Jordan debuted in 1984, NBA shoe deals have gone from rarity to something approaching ubiquity.

  • More recently, online marketplaces like StockX ($2.8 billion) and GOAT ($1.75 billion) have realized enormous valuations.
  • While that's hardly on the strength of basketball shoes alone, they still rule the roost when it comes to sport-specific footwear.

The big picture: The reason for this isn't hard to discern, as basketball — with its bevy of marketable stars — combines popularity (sport), visibility (athlete) and functionality (shoe) far better than its counterparts.

  • Football is insanely popular, but its athletes are hidden behind helmets; baseball players are visible, but rarely double as marketable; and hockey trails the other major sports in all three categories.
  • Plus, unlike basketball shoes, cleats and skates aren't useful in everyday life.

Go deeper: Air Jordan on ice? (The Athletic)

Go deeper

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Credit: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine Thursday night, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

2 hours ago - World

Zelensky questions U.S. warnings of "imminent" invasion in Biden call

Biden and Zelensky at the White House last October. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had a back-and-forth in their call this evening about just how "imminent" the threat of a Russian invasion might be, according to three sources briefed on the call.

Why it matters: Biden has said previously that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin will probably "move in" to Ukraine, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday afternoon that "an invasion could come at any time."