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NEW YORK — Never has a seven-story man, elite or otherwise, created any noteworthy noise in sneaker sales, not even when Devious Darryl Dawkins tried to get rich in a hurry by advertising a different brand on each foot.

Kareem, Shaq, Patrick Ewing, feel free to name the centerfold or his company, consumers simply haven’t identified with Goliath.

Yao Ming is almost certain to be the exception. Reebok’s imminent signing of the Ming Dynasty for numbers ($75 million — excluding royalties — over 10 years with an escape clause after six) approaching those LeBron James got ($100 million) to follow in Michael Jordan’s swoosh-steps, is certain to alter, if not end, Nike’s global supremacy.

In fact, Yao already has made marketplace history.

For the first time since Nike began paying its shoemakers on the cheap and over-paying pinup performers to promote/wear its product, the overwhelmingly successful colossal company has lost a treasured athlete in head-to-head competition.

Solo artists like Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady (very quietly signed to a $100 million lifetime deal with adidas a year ago) were unwanted by Phil Knight’s brainstormers when they entered the league out of high school; Kobe currently is under contract with Nike, having signed in late June for roughly $40 million over five years.

Adidas, on the other hand, recognized their value, thanks to Sonny Vaccaro, the same man responsible for engineering Nike’s ascent to basketball prominence by arranging its marriage to Michael Jordan.

So, I guess you won’t be all that surprised to learn of Vaccaro’s imminent appointment as Reebok’s Supreme Court Judge Of Talent is densely intertwined with Yao eventually winding up as Allen Iverson’s shelf partner throughout China, the United States and California.

“Yao will change the global landscape of two countries,” claims an unscarred sneaker war veteran. “Chinese are nationalistic. Totally. They’ll buy anything he’s behind and he’s already hot around the league. As a rookie he was one of the league’s few individual gate attractions and his commercial appeal is equally strong. Humility and humor is a communicably healthy parlay.”

“Of course, Grant Hill was hot, too, when he first signed with Fila. His first two shoes sold out. Then it became a matter of substance and sales went flat,” continued my footwear authority. “As popular as Yao is, it’s imperative for Reebok to create an impressive signature shoe in order to maintain maximum momentum.”

While on the subject of sneakers, sources say Nike, even if it wanted to, cannot dump Kobe at this time.

Being accused or indicted for sexual assault is not a breach of contract, only a conviction or admission of guilt. I’m informed company lawyers have received a mandate from the top to radically revise that language in future contracts.

In the meantime, Kobe’s signature shoe, due out in February, just before the All-Star Game in L.A., has been put on hold.

Oh, yeah, if Kobe is convicted, his new home uniform won’t be available in stores until next season.

Did you catch Phil Jackson’s statement about farcical speculation Jordan might come back to play for the Lakers?

“I don’t think I’d ask Michael that question until it became absolutely necessary or it became a reality.”

Funny, that was the same answer Kobe gave about Johnny Cochrane.

Yeah, Dennis (Everything, All The Time) Rodman would be my first choice to chaperone Denver rookie Carmelo Anthony around the league.

You can never pick up enough bad habits, I always say. And why would you want to give all those minutes at macho forward to Nene Hilario, anyway?

Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik doesn’t have a single loss this season and already his successor’s name (George Karl) is on the lips of Mile High natives in the know.

A recent offer by the Raptors of Antonio Davis and Mo Peterson to the Mavericks for Michael Finley and Shawn Bradley was rejected.

Mark Cuban promised the Holy Rail he won’t trade him, but fell short of letting him stay rent-free in his cabana . . . While there’s no disputing that Davis is one of the league’s classiest guys, he greatly tainted his image, it says here, with his boorish comment about wanting his kids (since transplanted from Toronto to Chicago) to learn the national anthem, not O’ Canada.

Interesting how such a desperate need didn’t crack Antonio’s Top 10 Priority List when the Raptors rewarded him above and beyond (five years, $62 million) his customary call of duty.

Is it too early to impertinently ponder who’ll guard small forwards like Tracy McGrady, Glenn Robinson, Jalen Rose, etc., if the Knicks starting frontline is Dikembe Mutombo, Antonio McDyess/Kurt Thomas and Keith Van Horn?

Where’s Lee Nailon’s uncompromising defense when you need it?

If Rick Carlisle is going to overreact to every technical discredited to Ron Artest (benched for a quarter in Indy’s opening win over the depleted Bulls) for playfully ball faking a referee), the Simons might as well hire David Stern as their coach.

Either Andre Miller needs analysis or a urinalysis.

That was my immediate response when told he had accepted less ($49 million for six years) from Denver than what Utah (leaving $4 million on the table) offered on its menu.

Miller arrived at his decision by comparing prospective teammates, future draft picks and next summer’s available salary cap room. Now if he’s smart enough to stop over-dribbling and passing only as a last resort.

What’s fair is unfair: If Pat Riley demands his players give 110 percent, how come he volunteered to give back a measly 10 percent of his salary?

Now that Quentin Richardson of the Clippers has had a season to recover from the pain of Darius Miles’ loss, look for him to recapture his sweet stroke and regain his fitness.

Yes, timing is everything and what better time to break out of his physical and mental funk now that Lamar Odom’s starting backcourt job is unattended and free agent ticket is uncashed?

Most of us ritually ridiculed the Nets for signing kidney hazard Alonzo Mourning to four-year, $22 million guarantee. A minority voice that’s regularly reasonable presented a contrary argument.

“If ‘Zo was healthy he would be worth $10 million per year,” stresses the West Coast executive. “So if he only plays two years, he’s a bargain.”

What if he doesn’t get through one season, I wondered out loud?

“Then the Nets made a massive mistake.”

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