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They sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes.—AMOS 2:6
There are very few righteous and very few poor around the NBA these days, but there are lots of shoes. Nike shoes. Converse shoes. Adidas, Pony, Puma, Spotbilt, Pro-Keds, Brooks, Kangaroos and New Balance shoes. There were even shoes made by Jordache. There are shoes with chevrons, swooshes, stars, cats and pouches on them. There are shoes with goatskin toes and special insoles and Velcro closures. There are high-cut, low-cut and mid-cut styles. Like underwear, shoes come in leather and mesh. Like tents, shoes come in canvas. Like Randy White, they just keep on coming and coming.
They come at you in magazines, newspapers, catalogs and splashy displays in stores, on billboards and television commercials. They're everywhere!
A word about nomenclature. In the athletic apparel industry, footwear is always referred to as shoes—basketball shoes, football shoes, whatever shoes. In the Western U.S., basketball shoes or any other kind of soft-soled athletic shoes are often called tennis shoes. Among the younger set, they are often called sneakers or sneaks. In Yugoslavia, whose Olympic team is negotiating with Converse, they are called kosharka datike. For the purposes of this article, they will be known strictly as sneakers.
A spot quiz to test your basketball sneaker IQ:
1. Who was Chuck Taylor?
2. What basketball sneaker is the biggest seller at Joe's Army and Navy on West 125th Street in Harlem?
3. (a) What sneaker company has the most NBA players under contract? (b) What is the easiest job in the world, besides being a major league first-base coach? (c) What do the last four "digits" of Arkansas basketball coach Eddie Sutton's home phone number spell?
4. (a) How much does Laker center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar get for wearing Adidas? (b) How much does Utah Jazz reserve Bob Hansen get for wearing Nikes? (c) How much does President Reagan get for being President? (d) Who's having the better year, Abdul-Jabbar, Hansen or Reagan?
5. (a) Which college basketball coaches are paid the most for endorsing a brand of sneaker? (b) Why is Kansas' new coach, Larry Brown, willing to risk having his team wear an untested sneaker?