November 23 2013, Derrick Rose left the Rose Garden arena in Portland, Oregon on crutches after suffering an apparent right knee injury. Within the next 48 hours, we as a public found out Rose’s worst basketball nightmare was coming true: he was going to miss a second straight season. After just 10 full games into his “comeback” season, Rose was finished. Rose had just missed all 82 games of the previous season and all but one playoff game of the season before that.
Neither of Rose’s injuries were caused by contact with another player or by an unusual fall or landing. Both times Rose went up like he had thousands of times before, and came down in the same way he always had. Both times Rose was also wearing Adidas basketball shoes.
In the same postseason as Rose’s first injury an extensive list of NBA players fell victim to various leg injuries and ligament tears all while wearing Adidas shoes, all while doing pretty mundane tasks that had never been an issue before. Iman Shumpert of the Knicks tore his ACL while just running up the court. He wore Adidas. Danilo Gallinari of the Nuggets came down from a lay up and tore his ACL. He wore Adidas. In the last two years the pattern has repeated with injuries to Adidas players across the league such as Eric Gordon, Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett, John Wall, and Ricky Rubio. In each case, there was nothing peculiar about the moments in which the players became injured, and yet they were still debilitated.
All of these recent injuries have brought the debate of Adidas shoes and their correlation to serious injuries into discussion in the basketball community. It doesn’t help that Adidas does not have a clean slate before these last two years either. Arguably Adidas’ biggest star in the early 2000s, Tracy McGrady had a long history of painful leg injuries (he never completed a full 82 game season), just like Derrick Rose present day. With all of these recent injuries and two of Adidas’ biggest stars of all time both struggling throughout their careers, is it acceptable to infer that Adidas shoes are more likely to cause injury than other basketball shoes such as Nike?
In his 2009 bestseller, The Book of Basketball, sportswriter Bill Simmons talks about a trip he was able to take to the Nike facilities.
“Turns out real science is involved [in Nike’s shoe making]. Nike brings many of its athletes to Oregon, pushes them through elaborate stress tests in the company’s state-of-the-art training lab, breaks down their running mechanics and foot structure, then builds the best possible shoe for them,” said Simmons.
To date there is no report of such a program for Adidas athletes, and the biggest and longest tenured names in Nike like Lebron James, Dirk Nowitzki, and Vince Carter have had very little injury trouble in their entire careers.
Looks like that is it then, case closed. Adidas ruins careers. But wait, what if I told you Nike players get injured just as frequently and awkwardly? Yes, just in recent months NBA Nike stars like Kevin Durant and Paul George have gone down with serious injuries (a broken foot and broken leg respectively). And, just like Adidas, Nike stars have a history with injuries. Former stars Penny Hardaway and Brandon Roy both lost their careers to injuries they sustained while wearing Nike shoes. Adidas, just like Nike, has its own list of tenured healthy stars like Tim Duncan and Chauncey Billups.
So in the end, no matter the research Nike puts in or the number of players that Adidas has on the sidelines, basketball is basketball. It’s a high intensity sport that is prone to injuries, no matter the shoe. But the injuries don’t just stop here; other sports such as football and soccer have also remained true to the feather light weighted flashy Adidas shoe.