I love basketball and have spent countless hours perfecting my shot through the years. I developed a beautiful touch, but I never could overcome a severe case of the white man’s disease—no hops. I’ve always been elevationally challenged. I used to dream of dunking when I played high school ball. And I did have a few two-handed flushes. The highlight and lowlight of stuffs came during a pregame drill against Illiana Christian. My legs were feeling particularly lively so I decided to go for a dunk in the layup drill. As an inexperienced dunker I caught my shooting hand’s middle finger on one of the eyelets holding the net. The finger split open like an overripe cantaloupe. I ran to the bench and showed the bleeding finger to my coach, Sandy Patlak.
Sandy was nonplussed, like this was a common occurrence. He bandaged it tightly and then stuck a condom over the finger. I must admit, I didn’t even know what the rubbery thing was, naïve kid that I was. I played the game, but it was the end of my dunking career.
I thought of my limited dunking highlights when I read about Adam and Ryan Goldston, brothers and shoe entrepreneurs who played a little college hoops at Southern Cal., but at 5’ 11” were not exactly Blake Griffins. In 2009, just out of college they started Athletic Propulsion Labs, a shoe company with an idea—builds shoes with hops. They drew upon their father’s knowledge of the athletic footwear industry (he had worked for Reebok) and put tiny springs in their sneakers.
They got enough money together to make a small batch of shoes. They enjoyed good feedback from the playgrounds of L.A. and then had the chutzpah to send their shoes to the NBA, seeking an okay for players in the league to wear them.