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LeBron James reportedly leads all NBA players in U.S. shoe sales

LeBron James leads all NBA players in U.S. shoe sales LeBron James wore the 'MVP' edition of his LeBron X's after he won his fourth MVP award. (Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

LeBron James -- the reigning regular-season and Finals MVP, the Olympic gold medalist and the leader of a Heat team that won 27 straight games this season -- is pretty popular apparently. According to a report from Forbes, James is the NBA's leading shoe salesman by a wide margin.

Nike generated $300 million in U.S. retail sales in 2012 for James’ signature shoes, according to research firm SportsOneSource. Nike’s haul represents a 50% increase from sales of James’ kicks in 2011. “The first thing is the aesthetics. The shoes look great and his star stature continues to rise,” says SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell. “The media attention on him helps him sell more footwear.”

Following James on the list are Kobe Bryant ($50M in shoe sales with Nike), Carmelo Anthony ($40M in shoe sales with Jordan), Kevin Durant ($35M in shoe sales with Nike) and Derrick Rose ($25M in shoe sales with Adidas).

GALLERY: Sneaker watch: NBA playoffs 2013

The article notes, however, that all of today's stars are still living in the shadow of Michael Jordan.

Today’s NBA stars are all still looking up at global icon Michael Jordan. The Nike-owned Jordan Brand has been on fire with $2 billion in U.S. sales in 2012, according to SportsOneSource. Susquehanna Financial analyst Christopher Svezia estimates the brand grew 25-30% globally in 2012.  The royalty agreement is worth more than $60 million annually for Jordan, who last played an NBA game in 2003.

Nike released the Air Jordan XX8 in February. It is the 28th shoe in the Jordan franchise. In addition to new Air Jordans, Nike continues to put out retro versions of the franchise with an average selling price of $130 to $150. The Jordan Brand commands a 56% market share in basketball, while the Nike brand has 37%. Adidas has a 5% share and Reebok is at 2% in the U.S.

James released the 'MVP' edition of the LeBron X sneakers in May on the occasion of his fourth MVP award in five years. This latest version of the LeBron X follows a number of others, as Nike released a Superhero-themed shoe for the playoffs, an Easter-themed version, an All-Star version, and a Christmas Day version.
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