Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
With the Concept 1 shoe banned, how can Elton Brand ever expect to dunk again?
For the first time in NBA history, the league has outlawed a line of shoes for granting an "unfair competitive advantage" to players. Athletic Propulsion Labs' Concept 1 sneakers will never see the lights of a sanctioned game. Thanks to the science of "Jumpology" (not to be confused with Dunkology, Quantum Handling or Biophysics), the kicks in question grant the bearer an instant 3.5" increase in vertical leap. They won't turn you into Vince Carter from ten years ago, but they're definitely a step above their competitors when it comes to generating hang time.
It's good to see another company in the crosshairs to join basketball's extensive* history of shoe bans:
Dateline: October 18, 1985
Culprit: Nike Air Jordan I
Reason: Dress Code Violation
When Michael Jordan entered the league as a rookie, he also gained the distinction of becoming the first athlete to have a shoe line named after him, one-upping Dr. J as hoops' star pitchman. The icon Air Jordan I model, however, also earned the street-cred distinction of violating commissioner David Stern's dress code because the shoes didn't match the Bulls uniform colors exactly. And if there's one thing we know about the commish, it's that he takes dress codes very, very seriously. The league ended up fining Jordan $5,000 for every violation, a fee that Nike compensated Jordan in exchange for a torrent of publicity. Now, it's been 25 years later and the Jordan line is widely known as one of, if not the most successful athletic shoe brand ever. That sure showed MJ.
Dateline: February 20, 2010
Culprit: Nike Hyperizes
Reason: Menace to Ankles
In the span of two-and-a-half months, Detroit Pistons strength and conditioning trainer Arnie Kander saw three of his top guards, Ben Gordon, Richard Hamilton and Will Bynum miss significant time due to ankle injuries. The common link? All three sported Nike's Hyperizes, which Kander cited as being too light to provide enough side support. It's one thing to have your ankles broken by a killer crossover; it's another thing to be felled by your own kicks. So out went those shoes. Unfortunately for Nike, this ban wasn't league wide, so it didn't have nearly the kind of sales push the Jordans did.
With a surplus of Concept 1 shoes lying around, where can we expect to see them next? Will Ricky Rubio use them for Barcelona to transform his game into above-the-rim action? Is Spud Webb allowed an exception to make a comeback in the All-Star Slam Drunk competition? Will the league allow mascots to rock them, if only to cut down on trampoline costs?
*Not really. It remains a mystery whether or not the lack of illegal shoes is due to the slow progress of vertical-boosting technology.