More on the banned basketball shoes


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I wrote about the bogus ban on APL’s basketball shoes a few days ago, and the bad science behind it. I just noticed that the New York Times, of all places, actually wrote about the shoes. The piece has some very interesting nuggets in it — and some very sloppy reporting. The key point to note is a statement from the NBA:

“No player has asked to wear these shoes, so it’s a nonissue,” the N.B.A. spokeswoman Kristin Conte said. “However, we determined that they don’t conform to our rules, based on the company’s representation of what they do.”

The key part is in bold here. In other words, the NBA has no idea whether the shoes enhance vertical jump. APL called up the NBA and said, “We have shoes that will make players instantly jump 3.5 inches higher using special technology in the toes, will players be allowed to wear them?” Of course the answer was no — but that says nothing about whether they work.

The other passage that caught my attention is here:

The Goldstons have compared the spring embedded in the front part of the sole to a diving board; the more pressure that is pushed down on it, the more spring it will provide. They claim it increases vertical leap by an average of about three and a half inches.

Lucky break for the company here. Even they don’t make that claim, although that’s exactly the impression they’re trying to give when they repeatedly mention increases of “up to 3.5 inches.” The Times reporter fell for it without checking the fine print. As I pointed out in my initial post, only one of 12 test subjects increased by anywhere close to 3.5 inches, under test conditions that the company won’t even disclose.

The more I read, the more unimpressed I am by how sleazily dishonest this whole campaign is. On the other hand, it’s a very successful campaign — the surge in sales after the “ban” shut down their servers. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised: apparently the 23-year-old twins running company are the sons of Reebok’s former chief marketing officer — the guy who came up with the famously stupid but commercially successful Reebok Pump.

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