Does Nike really make the safest basketball shoe?

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Ever stood on an air mattress? Did you notice how your feet sink to the floor and the air shifts elsewhere, making it hard to stand straight?

Ever worn Nike AirMax shoes? The same thing might be happening.

According to a study published in 2001 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, basketball players wearing shoes with air cells at the heel are 4.3 times more likely to sustain an ankle injury than players with standard basketball shoes.

That said, the Nike community is still quick to criticize players who get hurt wearing another company’s shoe.

When Grant Hill was sidelined for the 2001 season with ankle injuries, TNT analyst and Nike endorser Charles Barkley said, “When you’re wearing cheap shoes, and you don’t wear Nike, it’s going to happen. They gave him all that money to wear those cheap Filas.”

After Derrick Rose tore his ACL in the 2012 playoffs, the designer behind Nike’s Lebron shoes tweeted: “You got one guy only getting stronger, and one guy breaking down before our very eyes. You chose poorly Pooh… #shouldasignedwithNIKE #GWS.”

The “Nike versus everyone else” motif came up again this summer when Kevin Durant came within hours of becoming Under Armour’s first big basketball endorser.

Commenting on Durant’s shoe situation in a recent podcast, Bill Simmons said, “After what happened to Grant Hill with Fila, it’s amazing to me that anyone would not want to be at whatever the best shoe company is. And right now that’s Nike. Why mess around with sneakers?”

For Durant, who missed time with an ankle injury in 2011 and tweaked an ankle in this year’s playoffs, it seems the greatest risk is in returning to the Swoosh, who have incorporated an air cell into almost all of his shoe designs.

Despite all of the hoopla surrounding Hill’s ankles and Rose’s ACL, it seems Durant would have been safer wearing Under Armour, which doesn’t feature air cells in any of its shoes.