In February, Detroit Pistons strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander banned the Pistons from wearing the Nike Hyperize after several Pistons suffered ankle injuries while sporting the shoe. Claiming that the shoe was "way too light" and that Nike had "taken most of the support out of the sides," Kander issued his decree and the Pistons' ankles were fine. End of the story, right?
Not so much, because that would have been a very short post, plus Nike is still making shoes. In fact, just last week, Nike unveiled the Hyperdunk 2010, which is both a refresh of the still-popular Hyperdunk from 2008 and the latest (along with the Hyperfuse) in Nike's Hyper line of basketball shoes.
I was at the unveiling, and so was Tracy Teague, Nike's global creative director. Teague spoke about the features of this year's Hyperdunk, saying that they were able to "remove some of the layers which makes the shoes a little bit lighter and a little more flexible." Ummm, wasn't that the problem with the Hyperize?
According to Teague, not so much. Here's his response when I asked about the Pistons banning Nike's shoe:
For us, the Hyperize was a shoe that we tested extensively, as were the Hyperdunk 2010s as well. That's something I don't think a lot of folks have a lot of visibility to is the amount of testing that goes on. Something like the Hyperize — we didn't see those kind of problems. If you just look at the total number of products that were out there, it was a very small percentage that actually had issues with it. But, I mean, we worry about anytime somebody has some issues. But for us, what we've been able to do, again, is find that fine edge of lightweight but yet still strong enough to perform ... So that's the challenge, and that's the brunt of it, but I think it's good.
Thus far, the new shoes have been getting rave reviews. Sure, it's early, but around the time of the Hyperize's release, stability issues had already been noted. So it seems like this is going to be an improvement over last year's model, and possibly a shoe that we see on NBA feet for a few years to come, just like we have with the original Hyperdunk.
However, if Ben Gordon(notes) and Will Bynum(notes) have exploding ankles again this year, don't be surprised if Arnie reaches for his trusted ban hammer early. We'll know something happened if everyone on Detroit is playing in Timberlands. Hey, it'd fit that tough image they're so concerned about.