👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,327 words (5 minutes).
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
When Michael Jordan and Nike debuted the Air Jordan 1 in 1984, it revolutionized the sneaker industry and set off a decades-long frenzy around basketball shoes, which became collector's items for some and everyday shoes for others.
By the numbers: Basketball shoe sales currently represent less than 5% of the athletic shoe market, a huge drop from their 13% market share in 2014, per research firm NPD.
What they're saying: "This is the culmination of the athleisure trend, where we are wearing athletic inspired footwear and apparel but we don't intend to use them for sport," NPD analyst Matt Powell told MarketWatch.
The bottom line: Endorsement deals with top NBA players are still crucial for footwear companies looking to reach new customers, but shifts in consumer taste indicate that they might not have the revenue-driving impact they once had.
P.S. ... Another reason for the sales slump "can be as simple as what kind of pants people are wearing," says one UBS analyst, who suggests that big, bulky shoes don't look as good with a current fashion trend: tighter pants.
Previewing the front nine...
Hole 4, par 3: "For the bold, a direct carry can be attempted across a massive, 60-yard-long bunker that fronts the green, while the more conservative can play safely right, where a drawn approach may ride the contour of the fairway around this imposing hazard."
Hole 8, par 4: The eighth features split fairways, "allowing the golfer to play down either the right side or the narrower, tree-lined left. ... But beware! This balance can change with the positioning of the pin, making the eighth one of Riviera's more thought-provoking holes."
West Palm Beach spring training facility. Photo: Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Beginning today in West Palm Beach, Florida, the Astros and Nationals will share a facility for another spring.
In other news ... Trevor Bauer is very upset.
Photo: Ferenc Isza/AFP via Getty Images
From 2015 to 2019, a series of anonymous leaks exposed corruption in European soccer, pulling back the curtain on the murky world of soccer finance and resulting in criminal prosecutions of several top players.
Driving the news: Turns out the enormous trove of data that Pinto obtained held a much bigger secret, revealing how Isabel dos Santos, Africa's richest woman and the daughter of Angola's former president, exploited her country's wealth to amass a $2 billion fortune.
What they're saying: "Pinto is the Snowden of international corruption," said his lawyer, William Bourdon, who previously represented American whistleblower Edward Snowden. "And he is in jail in a democratic country."
Go deeper: The hacker connecting "Luanda Leaks" to corruption in European soccer (The New Yorker)
DENVER — LeBron James (32-14-12) became the fourth player in Lakers history to record 20 triple-doubles with the team, joining Magic Johnson, Elgin Baylor and Kobe Bryant. He also picked up his 12th triple-double in his 17th season or later, three more than all other players combined. Final: Lakers 120, Nuggets 116
DALLAS — 20-year-old Luka Dončić (33-12-8) recorded his 28th career 30-point game in the Mavericks' 130-111 win over the Kings, tying Kevin Durant for the second-most 30-point games before turning 21. Only LeBron (59) had more.
AUBURN, Ala. — No. 11 Auburn beat rival Alabama 95-91 (OT) in a wild game that saw the Tigers (22-2, 9-2) record their fourth OT win in their last five games and the Crimson Tide (13-11, 5-6) set SEC records for three-pointers made (22) and attempted (59).
ATLANTA — Georgia Tech (12-13, 6-8) dealt No. 5 Louisville (21-4, 12-2) a stunning 64-58 loss, snapping the Cardinals' 10-game winning streak and giving the rebuilding Yellow Jackets a signature win. "It was an ugly game, a muddy game," Louisville coach Chris Mack said. "We were not dirty enough to win."
Rube Foster (center) and the Chicago American Giants. Photo: Diamond Images/Getty Images
100 years ago today, the Negro National League was founded by former pitcher and executive Rube Foster.
Why it matters: The NNL became the first Negro league to achieve stability and last more than one season. It "proved that African-American players could play on even terms with their white counterparts — and draw just as much interest from baseball fans," per the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
The big picture: The financial hardships of the Great Depression forced the NNL to shut down, but the league would resurface in 1937 as the Negro American League, featuring many of the same teams from the NNL days.
Go deeper: Negro leagues opened door to players who would change baseball forever (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Photo: Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images
Answer at the bottom.
🎬 The Mighty Ducks are bad guys now, and your childhood is ruined (Megan Schuster, The Ringer)
"You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain. Apparently this axiom applies to Disney+ sequels about ragtag youth hockey teams, too."
🏀 What drives Sabrina Ionescu? (Seth Davis, The Athletic)
"No doubt Ionescu is physically gifted, but ... she is no freak. She succeeds because of an extreme drive that can be hard to handle for those who play with and coach her, but is well worth it in the end."
🏔 Love and Lhotse (Chris Ballard, SI)
"Driven by loss, two of the world's best mountaineers, Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison, set out to make history — and find answers — in the shadow of Mount Everest."
Kendall "'90s trailers were hilarious" Baker
Trivia answer: Hamidou Diallo (2019), Donovan Mitchell (2018), Glenn Robinson III (2017)