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Shoe fetish? Scout out the National Basketball Association

There seems to be little doubt that every single one of the reported 448 rostered players in the National Basketball Association can wax eloquent on his footwear.

For, indeed, if there's one thing that an NBA player is, well, qualified to hold court on, it's the shoes on his feet.

Footwear in the NBA is a decidedly fascinating subject. The shoes worn by the high-profile athletes in that league must be high-quality offerings, of course, able to stand up to the stresses literally put upon them by the best players in the world.

They must also look stylish, though, and be instantly identifiable as a name brand.

Shoe company executives are so driven to get -- and keep -- their shoe models in the public eye that they spend hundreds of millions of dollars negotiating with NBA players to wear their shoes on an exclusive basis.

That equates to Shoe Wars and an outright slugfest among companies like Nike and Reebok to ink players to shoe-based merchandising agreements.

Unsurprisingly, those pacts come with highly varied terms and incentives, depending on the athlete involved. At one extreme, and as noted in a lengthy article discussing shoe contracts with NBA athletes, a player might sign a so-called "merch" deal pursuant to which he will receive a veritable pile of shoes for free.

At the other end of the spectrum … well, let's just talk LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and a handful-plus of other uber stars with global stature. Those players execute "signature sneaker" deals for shoes that are solely identified with them personally.

As to how much such a deal can be worth, consider this: An incentive-laden contract that Houston Rocket star James Harden recently signed could be worth as much as $200 million.

Readers of our posts who are hoop enthusiasts will undoubtedly spend a moment or two paying attention to footwear the next time they tune in to an NBA game.

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