Editor’s Note: The Unfair Advantage

Today’s Machining World Archives April 2011 Volume 07 Issue 03

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.

The NBA banned them. The Goldstons claim the shoes can give a jumper an extra 3 1/2” of lift.

The rejection became marketing gold. They put a video on YouTube about “the shoe the NBA banned,” which went viral. Immediately sales jumped through the roof. Every kid wanted the unfair advantage. With my bad knees, I think I’ll buy a pair.

It reminds me of a business friend, Jake Grainger, who buys used machines, gets rid of the guts, and re-engineers them to give his company the “unfair advantage.”

What we hope to do at Today’s Machining World is to provide some information, insight or interpretation that gives you that little edge.

If nothing else, I hope you’ll have a little more spring in your step after reading us.

Lloyd Graff

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One thought on “Editor’s Note: The Unfair Advantage

  1. Albert b. Albrecht

    Lloyd –
    The unfair advantage reminds me of a product meeting at Kennametal Inc. m,any years ago with Alex McKenna President and CEO at the time. I was Director Product Development & Sales and made a presentation on a new cutting tool. After the presentation Alex asked “do we have an unfair advantage” – I said not really but the Kennametal’s name and sales force supports placing the tool on the market. He quickly answer we do not enter any new markets unless we have an “unfair advantage” engineering, technology, features, manufacturing etc. that was the end of the discussion. I never forgot that meeting and the need to have an “unfair advantage”


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