Feb 13, 2020

Axios Sports

By Kendall Baker
Kendall Baker

๐Ÿ‘‹ Good morning! Let's sports.

Today's word count: 1,327 words (5 minutes).

1 big thing: ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ The decline of the basketball shoe

Illustration: Aรฏda 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.

  • Meanwhile, the athleisure industry grew 7% over a 12-month period in 2019.

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.

2. โ›ณ๏ธ Genesis Invitational: Course preview

The Genesis Invitational begins today at Los Angeles' historic Riviera Country Club, with Tiger Woods highlighting a stacked field that features nine of the top 10 players in the world rankings.

Previewing the front nine...

Screenshot: Riviera Country Club

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."

Screenshot: Riviera Country Club

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."

Go deeper:

3. โšพ๏ธ Astros and Nats arrive in West Palm Beach

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.

  • "That's when media will be permitted into clubhouses, questions will begin, and the Astros will either atone โ€” or not atone โ€” for the sign-stealing scandal that has rocked the sport," writes WashPost's Jesse Dougherty.
  • "Meanwhile, across the parking lot, the Nationals will be asked about the Astros, the team they beat in the most recent World Series and, fittingly, is now led by their former manager."
  • "So on one plot of land, we will have the defending champs, the disgraced champs, the club that lost to the defending champs and the manager, Dusty Baker, who was fired for not leading the now-defending champs to a title three years ago. It should make for an interesting time."

In other news ... Trevor Bauer is very upset.

4. โšฝ๏ธ Soccer hacker also behind "Luanda Leaks"

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.

  • The man responsible for the leaks was a 31-year-old Portuguese hacker named Rui Pinto, who worked as an antiques dealer and won praise as a whistleblower.
  • But in September, Pinto was taken into custody and currently sits in a Portuguese prison, awaiting trial on 93 charges, including cybercrime and extortion.

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.

  • Pinto was only recently revealed as the source of the "Luanda Leaks" โ€” a collection of 715,000 emails, charts, contracts and audits that was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and reported on last month in media outlets across the globe.
  • Those reports led to an investigation of dos Santos, who is suspected by Angola's government of plundering the state oil company to bankroll her business empire.
  • The latest: Portuguese authorities have issued a freezing order on dos Santos' bank accounts, aiding Angolan authorities in their global hunt for her assets.

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)

5. ๐Ÿ“ธ Last night on the hardwood
Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

DENVER โ€” 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

Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

DALLAS โ€” 20-year-old Luka Donฤiฤ‡ (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.

Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

AUBURN, Ala. โ€” 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).

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

ATLANTA โ€” 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."

6. ๐Ÿ“Š By the numbers
Photo: Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images
  • ๐Ÿˆ 89 days: The NFL has reinstated Browns DE Myles Garrett, who had been suspended indefinitely on Nov. 15 (89 days from yesterday) for pulling off Steelers QB Mason Rudolph's helmet and hitting him in the head with it during a game.
  • ๐Ÿ€ 1,408 points: With 24 points in a loss to Villanova last night, Marquette's Markus Howard became the Big East's all-time leading scorer in league games with 1,408 points, passing Syracuse's Lawrence Moten.
  • ๐Ÿ“บ 20% of consumption: Streaming now accounts for nearly 20% of TV consumption for most Americans, almost doubling since 2018, a new report from Nielsen shows. Per the report, Netflix accounts for a whopping 31% of streaming time, followed by YouTube (21%) and Hulu (12%).
7. Feb. 13, 1920: โšพ๏ธ Negro National League founded

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 โ€” and draw just as much interest from baseball fans," per the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

  • League champions: The Chicago American Giants won five titles (1920, 1921, 1922, 1926, 1927), the Kansas City Monarchs won four (1923, 1924, 1925, 1929) and the St. Louis Stars won three (1928, 1930, 1931).
  • Colored World Series: From 1924 through 1927, the NNL winner met the champion of the rival Eastern Colored League in the Colored World Series, with the American Giants going 2-0 and the Monarchs going 1-1.

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.

  • 10 years later, in 1947, the Monarchs' very own Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color barrier.

Go deeper: Negro leagues opened door to players who would change baseball forever (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

8. The Ocho: โšฝ๏ธ Teqball

Photo: Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Teqball combines soccer with table tennis, and some of the world's top soccer players have added Teqball to their workout routines โ€” a testament to its value as a training and rehabilitation aid.

๐ŸŽฅ Watch:

9. ๐Ÿ€ NBA trivia
  • Question: Can you name the winners of the last three NBA Slam Dunk Contests?
  • Hint: Zach LaVine is not one of them.

Answer at the bottom.

10. ๐Ÿ“š Good reads
Screenshot: @megschuster (Twitter)

๐ŸŽฌ 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."

๐Ÿ€ 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."

๐Ÿ” 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 โ€” and find answers โ€” in the shadow of Mount Everest."
Kendall Baker

Talk tomorrow,

Kendall "'90s trailers were hilarious" Baker

Trivia answer: Hamidou Diallo (2019), Donovan Mitchell (2018), Glenn Robinson III (2017)