Taking the bounce out of banned shoes

October, 20, 2010
10/20/10
4:25
PM ET
Abbott By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com
Archive
If internet traffic is any judge, people are excited about the idea of spring-loaded shoes designed to help you jump higher.

Do they work? It's unclear. (Chris Ballard dug in pretty deep some time ago, and found mixed results.)

A story about the NBA's ban of those shoes has been getting a ton of traffic, I suspect because the topic of robo-shoes has a lot of earth-bound weekend warriors dreaming of dunking.

The company that makes the shoes has been implying that their shoes are too effective for the NBA, hence the ban. It's an appealing narrative.

However, if you dig deeper into why the shoes have been disallowed, you can almost hear the NBA rolling its eyes.

A group from the manufacturers, Athletic Propulsion Labs, presented their shoes to the NBA some time ago. In that meeting, they explained that the shoe contains a spring device designed to make athletes jump higher. As soon as that was made clear, the shoes were destined to be disallowed.

"We determined that they did not comply with our rules," explains the NBA's Kristin Conte, who works in marketing communications, "based on the company's representation of what they do."

In other words: The NBA does not have a science lab to test such claims, and did not. They have no idea if the shoes are effective or not. What they do have is a rule that bans shoes with performance enhancing devices built in -- whether those devices work or not.

The NBA may not have a jumping sciences lab, but it does have something else: a parting shot, in the form of a blanket denial of the company's claim that NBA players are trying to get their hands on these shoes.

NBA players must get their footwear approved by the league. The company says that many NBA players, including 30 percent of the rookie class, wants to wear the shoes.

So, how many of them have asked the NBA for permission to do so?

According to Conte: Zero.

"No player," explains Conte, "has asked to wear the shoes."

Henry Abbott | email

TrueHoop, NBA

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