👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,539 words (5 minutes).
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Driving the news: Competing brands are now scrambling to build their own shoes to compete with the Vaporfly, and the clock is ticking.
What they're saying: While rival companies are confident that their carbon-fiber plate designs will eventually be on par with the Vaporfly, Nike's formidable lead has forced them to acknowledge the gap that currently exists.
The big picture: Running, the most elemental of sports, now faces the same "human ability vs. technological innovation" challenge that other sports like tennis (rackets) and swimming (full-body suits) have encountered.
The bottom line: The running industry is in the midst of a high-tech shoe revolution, and the outcome will affect everything from shoe sales and stock prices to who wins Olympic gold.
🎥 Watch: The controversy behind the Vaporfly, explained (YouTube)
LeBron James, whose play defined the last two decades of NBA basketball, scored a season-high 40 points in his first matchup against Zion Williamson (29 points), whose play could define the next two decades.
The big picture: LeBron and Zion have so much in common — game-breaking athleticism, unparalleled hype — yet the experience of watching them play basketball is "fascinatingly different," writes The Ringer's Brian Phillips:
More NBA scores:
NAPLES, Italy — Napoli supporters pose amongst street art featuring ex-Napoli star Diego Maradona ahead of the club's round of 16 first leg match against Barcelona, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
LONDON — Thomas Müller and Bayern Munich destroyed Chelsea, 3-0, and it could have been much worse — a reminder of the huge gulf that exists between Europe's elite and the 2012 Champions League winners, who are rebuilding.
📺 Today's slate ... Real Madrid (Spain) hosts Manchester City (England), and Lyon (France) hosts Juventus (Italy). Both matches kickoff at 3pm ET.
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
In a shocking announcement yesterday, Bob Iger said he would be stepping down from his role as Disney CEO after leading the entertainment giant to unprecedented success during his 15-year run on the job.
Why it matters: Iger is credited with leading Disney through a series of risky yet highly-successful acquisitions that not only solidified the company's dominance, but ultimately reshaped the entire media landscape around it.
What they're saying: Iger leaves a lasting sports legacy at Disney, writes Axios' Sara Fischer.
Zoom out: Quite the tenure...
British youth soccer players will no longer be allowed to head the ball in practice, according to new safety guidelines for kids aged 11 and under.
Why it matters: The new guidelines are in direct response to a 2019 study that found former pro soccer players were 3.5 times more likely to die of dementia compared with a control sample, and five times more likely to die of Parkinson's.
53 years ago today, racing icon Mario Andretti became the first driver born outside the U.S. to win the Daytona 500.
The big picture: Andretti, whose family moved from Italy to Pennsylvania when he was 15 years old, remains the only driver in history to win the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 and the Formula One World Championship.
🎥 Watch: On-board lap with Mario Andretti (YouTube)
George Hood, a 62-year-old Marine veteran from Naperville, Illinois, recently set the Guinness World Record for longest abdominal plank at eight hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds.
What he's saying: Hood discovered planking a decade ago and quickly got hooked. "It was a static exercise. There was no movement involved. I could put music in my ears at the gym and lay on the floor and plank," he told WashPost.
The bottom line: You will never love anything as much as George Hood loves planking.
Sue Bird will return to the Seattle Storm for her 19th season after re-signing with the team yesterday.
Answer at the bottom.
Photo: Alika Jenner/Getty Images
With the NFL Combine underway in Indianapolis, it's worth re-reading Wright Thompson's terrific piece from last year on what this week is really like beyond the measurements, football drills and TV cameras.
"For reporters and coaches and scouts, the combine is part work and part play, like a legal convention in Las Vegas or something. Yes, there's combine stuff to do, but that all feels secondary on the ground to drinking expensive wine and eating big steaks at places like St. Elmo's — the emotional center of Indy during the combine, with its great light and high ceilings."
Kendall "My plank is not my friend" Baker
Trivia answer: Diana Taurasi