Starks pitches Ektio.
Play basketball? Then you’ve likely encountered some type of ankle sprain or injury at some point in your playing career. If not, you’re lucky. And we caught up with former New York Knicks guard John Starks who wants to help you keep staying lucky (or prevent future pain) by talking about his endorsement of a physician-designed basketball shoe brand named Ektio…
When did you first hear about Ektio and what made the brand stand out in your mind?
I heard about the brand a few years ago when Dr. Katz approached me as an endorser. What made it special to me was their mission to help guys from turning their ankles and to prolong their career.
How did you develop a relationship with the folks there and what inspired you to sign on with the Ektio team?
Throughout the year, so many guys twist their ankles and they’re out of work. The doctor told me about the product and it seemed like something that could really curtail that and really keep guys healthy and keep their ankle sprains down.
How does your game and history as a physical NBA force fit with Ektio’s mission as a brand?
The product helps give you that confidence and ability that you can go out there and still make pretty much any move you can make on the court and not have to worry about, you know, that you’re going to end up twisting your ankle. It gives you that mentality that you can go out there, perform, and do anything that you want and more out there on the court knowing that you can protect yourself. It’s definitely a shoe for guys who, you know, the athletic guys who are going out there and giving 110 percent.
When we talked to the brand’s founder, Dr. Barry Katz, he emphasized the importance of getting this technology into the hands of younger players. Do you see the youth as an important part of your mission?
Definitely. For young athletes, this is definitely a great shoe for them. The last thing you want to do is see a young kid get hurt with some type of bad ankle sprain. Once you engrain in a kid that this is the new technology that’s out here to help prevent them from turning their ankle and keeping them healthy, kids buy into it. This is a technology-based society and kids always looking for the new thing that is bigger and better and this is definitely that type of product.
NBA players have lost millions as a result of ankle injuries. Do you see Ektio as a way owners/coaches can protect their investments in high-profile players?
Yeah, you know obviously, these players have individual shoe contracts and teams can’t push them to wear our product. Our mission is to really get it out there get it on a couple players and let them understand the benefit for them wearing the product. As it gets around the league that, ‘Hey, this shoe doesn’t limit you from doing what you normally do out there on the court, but it gives you 99% protection against ankle sprains’ more and more guys are going to be looking at this shoe to put on. Because I know that if I had a shoe like that when I was playing, more than likely I would have had it on because I don’t want to be sitting out of games and costing the team time towards wins and what have you. I think it’s important that guys understand that.
Do you see pros wearing this shoe during practice?
A lot of guys try different products out. Because you want to know what’s out there, you know. Like I said, if this is something that can protect me I definitely want to see what it does and if it’s worthwhile trying it on and seeing how it feels, more players will do that. Obviously they can’t wear it in public, but definitely practices.
Do you think Ektio could change the criteria people emphasize when choosing what kind of shoe to purchase?
Oh, no question. I think it definitely is going to come down to that because you want to be out there as much as you can, you don’t want to be sidelined with an ankle injury. If you’re a competitor, you want to be in the game, so, if I can wear a product that can do that and keep me on the court for the big game, that’s what it’s all about if you really look at the functionality of this shoe and what it can do.
One of Ektio’s big efforts is a nationwide tour where the brand is hitting landmark street courts across the country to get this shoe into the hands and minds of a new market. Have you been able to participate and how do you see this effort helping the brand?
Yeah, I have participated in it and it is definitely more grassroots, like how a lot of companies, how they got started. You know, you look at companies like Nike; they sold shoes out of trunks so you definitely have to get grassroots and you definitely have to get it on players, especially on courts where no one has checked it out. If you get the opportunity to let other guys try it on and wear it, it makes a big difference.
Where do you hope to see Ektio in 5-10 years?
I hope we’ll be in every sporting goods store and that the name will definitely be out there as one of the top shoes out there on the market. And I think we can get to that level. A Nike, maybe an adidas, like that — who knows. But we’ve got something that the rest of the competitors out there don’t have. We’ve got something that makes a big difference in the performance of athletes.