Many MANY moons ago in a galaxy far far away... I actually owned a pair of Jordan 1's (damn how I wish I had kept them for keep sake value). You remember them?
Now being a relatively skinny, tall, beanpole of a young teenage basketball player, I had small ankles and often used to twist my ankle in my early soccer career of 8 years from the age of 6 to 13 years old. So when I first started playing basketball at UK college prior to University, I preferred the 'High Top' support of a shoe like the Jordan one's and even then had pairs of the Shaq Reebok 'Pump up' boots, that inflated a support in the boot tongue and sides, to give a truly great snug fit around the ankle and never had a problem...
When I then went to University I switched to Converse and the Aerojam 'Grandmama' editions just like these and also another pair that were also 3/4 quarters and Black and Purple....the key thing being, they were 3/4 tops.
Well....as some of you know, during the 1994 British University Quarter Finals, I was wearing a pairof the above 'Cons' and having taken a board, spun out to my left to head off down the right side on a fast break. At full sprint, I passed the opposing shooter who had just missed and was turning to his right, my right toe clipped the back of his left heel and when my foot came into contact with the court, instead of it being flat and forwards, it was 45 degrees to the left and rolled onto its right side..... CRACK!!!!! on impact... I kid you not, the entire hall heard my ankle crack on landing, yet it was not my ankle breaking thank god, but my Achilles tendon tearing with a huge ankle sprain and other minor tendon damage and pulls....
I was extremely lucky the Achilles did not snap all the way across and so it was able to fuse back together and repair/heal, unfortunately that was the end of my basketball game at University...
To this day...I suspect that had I been wearing my old favoured high-tops, the damage might have been just a bad sprain, as my ankle did not truly have much support around the ankle joint in the 3/4 shoe... which got me thinking in light of the current spate of ankle sprains.... Do current NBA players think enough about their shoe selection?
Migrate this subject forward to today's Basketball shoes and the seemingly increasing number of ankle injuries and it started to get me thinking about footwear and 'Das Boot!' (No not the German U-boat film or a drinking vessle in Beerfest!)....the same problem for many years affected football (yes the proper version played with the foot and a ball) players, especially with the introduction in the mid 90's of the Adidas 'Blades' football boots that David Beckham made popular, due to the texture of the boot upper and the ability to put a curve on the ball. The problem with this football boot was the fashionable style lacing and studs/blades and the very soft leather, giving very little support to the ankle bone and yet gave a better grip ability in the grass due to the blade design of the studs. Suddenly ankle injuries in the leading leagues players were increasing due to increased grip, less support and lower cut sides.
Cut now back to the basketball shoe question.... have they become too much like a fashion statement, rather than a functional tool to protect your ankle in an extremely tough environment? It is fair to say that the modern basketball athlete is a pretty impressive beast! With not only explosive power and strength, but speed and agility too.
As someone pointed out the other day, Ronny Turiaf seems to favour a 'Low-top' shoe.... which is quite frankly staggering, considering the fragility of his ankles, his height and his weight....so why is no one saying..."Er...excuse me Ronny old chap!...would you mind wearing a more supportive shoe please...as we get better value from you when your playing..."
If you look at many of the basketball shoe designs now, there are very few 'high-tops' anymore with a majority of lowish 3/4 shoes, offering little in the way of ankle support to the frankly bizarre 'low-tops'. I understand that this is very much a players choice and a faster player may prefer the flexibility and light weight that a less cumbersome shoe might offer, but at what cost?
If we take Monta Ellis as an example. Here is a guy that is often running at high speed and in a lot of traffic, jumping like a flea!! The classic ingredients for an ankle injury to occur. The question that could possibly be raised by the team is... are your chosen shoes offering you enough protection to your ankle?
A player can be offered sponsorship to take a particular shoe...but is that necessarily the right shoe for them? and if it is not... should a team have right to insist that a player like Ronny Turiaf does not wear low top shoes, as an injury due to poor shoe choice could then affect the fortunes and business financials of a club, if it loses too many players to ankle injuries.
The reason why I created this thread, was to discuss the subject of shoes in relation to ankle injuries, as it seems for some bizarre reason, to be a bigger issue this year, than I have ever noticed in previous years?
What are your thoughts?...should a team have any influence in helping a player get the right footwear for them? Or is this just part of the risk...and 'a mans shoes are his own private kingdom...and he should defend them with his life!?'
If you look at basketball shoe design over the years, not much has actually changed a great deal, which I find surprising. There do not seem to be many shoes designed that incorporate some form of neoprene ankle support/guard? Is it time for Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Converse et al, to start to redesign the basketball boot, to offer greater support for the ankle, due to the greater size and power of the players today. If you look back at basketball in the 70's and 80's, we had many players with Anthony Randolph and Brandan Wright's type of frame and build, but in the modern NBA, the average physical strength and power for a player seems to be increasing as with every sport in the modern era...
Is it time for a radical rethink when it comes to basketball shoe design... or is it subject to whims and fashion? and as such...until Kobe and LeBron start wearing high-tops... the low 3/4 shoe will remain the primary choice for the majority!?