The love affair between sneakers and basketball has always been a steamy, passionate romance. Jordan's Air Jordans, Nike's Air Force 1's, Reebok's "The Question," and Converse's Wade's are all the stuff of legend amongst avid basketball players. Basketball shoes are similar to a girl's perfume—the right pair is simply mesmerizing.
Looks are always a plus, but we all know that any meaningful relationship also needs some substance. Same goes for shoes. Functionality of one's kicks—mainly their ability to give its user some extra hops—is a key component of any player/sneaker affair.
If you haven't guessed, this article is about basketball sneakers. Not just any sneakers, though. The line of footwear covered here is so extraordinary, it's literally groundbreaking.
Meet Ryan and Adam Goldston, the 23-year-old twins behind Athletic Propulsion Labs, a company pushing the boundaries of human flight. APL's new shoe, the Concept 1, comes equipped with a "Load 'N Launch" Technology, scientifically proven to raise an athlete's vertical leap by up to three and a half inches.
Who needs flubber when you have a pair of these?
The shoe and its implications on the sport are described in great detail in this article written by Sports Illustrated's Chris Ballard. An enjoyable and thought provoking read, it even includes a video of Ballard testing out the kicks for himself.
It will be interesting to see whether or not these shoes will be embraced by the NBA front office, as these potential performance enhancers could arguably provide an unfair competitive advantage.
In the right hands (well, feet), these shoes could do more work than Kobe. With that in mind, here are 10 NBA players we'd love to see rocking a fresh pair of Concept 1's.
From the hilarious to the thought-provoking to the downright scary, these 10 players would enhance their game by leaps and bounds with this footwear. No pun intended.
Although Scalabrine has spent most of his career on the sidelines, there's no downplaying the passion exuded by fiery ball of energy. He may not always be in the game physically, but Big Red is an MVP candidate when it comes to mental focus.
In his tenures with the Nets and Celtics, Scalabrine has been inserted into the lineup to give his team an inspirational boost from time to time. With these shoes however, Scalabrine's influence would be highlight-reel worthy. And unlike some of his previous SportsCenter cameos, the new Scalabrine would provide solid material for an inspirational Nike video.
The 6'9" forward is no Chris Bosh. With super kicks however, this specimen would transform from a Great White Flounder to a Great White Shark.
Images Brian Scalabrine dunking on the rest of the NBA could easily manifest into the best selling posters in league history. I mean, come on. Who wouldn't want a poster of Scalabrine dunking over Yao Ming?
In Diaw's case, the shoes would act as an intervention. A cure. An easy way out.
Boris Diaw is unofficially diagnosed with something I like to call Lazy Professional Athlete syndrome. As a victim of LPA, Diaw doesn't always like to play defense, let alone stay in shape.
With the shoes, Diaw wouldn't really have to worry about all this talk of defense and conditioning. If a defender blows past him, all Boris will ever have to worry about is timing his jump right. His 6'8" frame would enable the Frenchman to block anything on this side of the Seine.
Unlike Diaw, Artest doesn't need shoes to help him play exemplary defense. As a matter of fact, the St. John's alum could probably play better defense than half of the league if he were completely barefoot.
Artest makes this list not because of what he can't do without these high flyers. Rather, his appearance is a testament to his current tenacity, which, with the addition of these sneakers, present us with nearly unlimited possibilities.
Artest is primarily known for his defensive prowess. The 2004 Defensive Player of the Year and the two time All-NBA Defensive first teamer doesn't necessarily need the sneaks on this side of the court, but I'm sure he wouldn't mind being more intimidating that he already is—if that's possible.
Offensively, these rubber pogo-sticks would work wonders for Artest, and would probably elevate him to the status of a perennial All-Star. If his newfound vertical allowed him to score an extra two buckets a game, his career average would jump from 15.5 ppg to about 20. Not a tremendously strong rebounder, you'd have to think his 5.0 career average would rise quite a bit as well.
A defensive monster, with 20 ppg and 8 rpg to boot? Terrifying.
Eddy Curry strongly reminds me of this molasses monster from the children's game, Candyland. Just like this good-hearted fellow, Curry didn't mean to harm anyone through his massive contract or his lackluster play these past few seasons. Unintentionally however, he's bogged down the New York Knicks, and it has proven difficult from them to un-stick themselves from his wrath of lethargy.
He's had his battles with injuries—most notably, some scary heart troubles—but with the exception of an impressive 2006-07 campaign (19.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg), Curry's productivity has been rather sparse. With career numbers of 13.3 ppg and 5.3 rpg, the former high school standout simply has not panned out as the Bulls or Knicks had hoped.
With the super shoes however, Eddy Curry's career may have taken off as we had expected when he was selected as the fourth overall pick in the 2001 NBA draft. It's hard to imagine that a powerful seven footer with some spring his step couldn't consistently put down a double double.
And who knows? Add some propulsion, and Curry could very well be a rather "Shaqtastic" player.
Another Curry, but an entirely different story.
For this sophomore on the rise, some extra hops would spell doom for everyone not wearing a Golden State Uniform.
His collegiate days are the stuff of legend, and his rookie season seemed to follow in similar footsteps. Curry finished second in ROY voting. His 17.5 ppg, 5.9 apg, and 4.5 rpg should only increase this season, as his heightened second half numbers enabled him to emerge as a legitimate rookie of the year candidate, an award to which he finished second in league voting.
He has the quickness, ball-handling skills, athleticism, court vision, and phenomenal shooting touch to emerge as a star for years to come. Add some inches onto this guy's vertical leap, and you've got one talented ballplayer.
He'd be able to shoot over you, dunk over you, and everything in between. Sounds like something straight out of a video game.
Aaron Gray's nickname is the White Panther. He's not the most skilled player out there, but as his pseudonym suggests, he's rather fierce. The seven footer may not always outplay his opponents on the stat sheet, but Gray is one of those bruising players that no one likes to match up against.
For a panther, Gray doesn't seem to have too much of an appetite. His career numbers of 3.8 ppg and 3.3 rpg are more suited for a woman in her mid 20's who only eats organic salads.
Gray would still be flopping around all over the court with APL kicks, but he'd be doing so with purpose. His 27.0 inch vertical leap is...umm, not too impressive. If the shoes bumped him up to 30, his jumping ability would at least be somewhat tolerable.
In many ways, the impact these shoes will make on Gray's career is analogous to the difference between a 79 and an 80 on an exam. The disparity is extremely minimal in actuality, but a B sounds miles better than a C+.
Vasquez was a huge difference maker in college, possessing the rare ability to take complete control over a game at any point in time.
He has yet to play in the NBA, but his combine statistics suggest that the 28th pick in this years draft is going to need to enroll in some sort of flight school. Either that, or invest in a pair of Concept 1's.
The 2010 ACC Player of the Year may have finished second all time on the Terps career scoring list, but Vasquez is going to do little in a Grizzlies uniform if he cannot improve his abysmal jumping ability. In the 2009 scouting combine, he finished dead last in the category, jumping a measly 26.5 inches off the ground. Dribbling through and driving past defenders may have worked in college, but it's going to be much tougher to get a shot past Dwight Howard than it was to beat Brian Zoubek.
There's no question as to whether he's got the necessary skill set. Some extra leaping ability may give this 6'6" guard just what he needs to make it in the bigs.
Get this guy a pair. And fast. His career may very well depend on them.
It's hard enough to keep track of Steve Nash as it is. Imagine what'd he'd be like with these shoes.
In his own way, Nash is one of the most electrifying players in the NBA. No, he's not going to dunk on you anytime soon. But Nash and his soccer player hair fury have the uncanny ability of creating something almost absolutely nothing. Even if he's attacked by four defenders in the middle of the lane, Steve Nash will always find a way through their seemingly invincible blockade.
With the shoes Nash could still show off some of his razzle-dazzle, but his life would ultimately be much simpler. Instead of running a half-marathon around the floor to get off a shot, all Nash would have to do is drive and elevate.
Steve Nash, dunking over defenders? The thought alone is scarier than getting brought home to your girlfriend's parents house for the first time, with the dad being Bill Lambeer.
I know. You were really hoping he was going to be on here, weren't you?
When its all said and done, JJ Redick would probably be the player who could benefit the most for wearing a pair of organic jetpacks. Being able to jump up and over everyone and their brother would allow Redick to fire up shots from anywhere on the floor, without having to worry about getting blocked.
The ensuing parade of three-pointers would be so large that it would instantly overtake the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as the world's most popular parade.
If the shoes were to have a spokesperson, I'd have to imagine Redick would be a more than worthy candidate. The very thought of JJ posterizing some of the league's most feared big men is simply Redickulous.
"Nasty Nate" just got a little but nastier.
The only three-time champion of the NBA's dunk contest, Robinson is quite well known for his ability to jump higher than...well, everything.
The 5'9" guard has consistently defied gravitational laws, making it appear like he is perpetually living on the moon. I strongly advise Robinson from ever participating in a game of Slamball, as he likely would jump through the arena's ceiling. And that just sounds painful.
His 43.5 inch vertical leap is amongst one of the league's highest. Imagine him with a 47-inch vert? He'd almost be able completely to jump over himself.
It'd definitely be an amazing spectacle, but giving Robinson these shoes would just be unfair. And besides, Shrek would probably get a little bit jealous.