by Dylan Lowther / OntheDylanL
I arrived at the Ektio video shoot knowing barely anything about the whole company. Well, I knew they sold shoes. That was about it.
When I arrived, I was greeted by Jon Katz, Ektio’s VP of sales and marketing. Katz introduced me to Ektio’s two new spokes people, Jacob Tucker and Jack “Blackjack” Ryan.
Blackjack is an extremely talented streetballer from Brooklyn; SLAM has rated Ryan one of the 50 greatest streetballers of all-time. Chris Mullin, another Brooklyn native, says that Jack Ryan is the best shooter to never grace the NBA hardwood. After shaking hands with Ryan, I met the other spokesperson, Jacob Tucker. Tucker is a sub-6-foot guard from the Div. III school Illinois College. Tucker however, is the holder of a 50-inch vertical leap, a tool that he used to help him win the 2011 college Slam Dunk competition.
The personalities of these two were completely contrasting. Jack Ryan is a talkative Brooklynite who often performs at halftime shows. He likes to show off his ability to spin balls and do other basketball related tricks. Truly a man born for the spotlight. He found himself working with Jacob Tucker, a Div. III, soft-spoken highflyer from rural Indiana who has only recently been cast in the spotlight—and it wasn’t even his intention.
They were brought together by Ektio, because they both know that Ektio represents the future of basketball shoes.
Ektio’s baskeball shoes have been modeled while consulting three different types of doctors, ushering a new shoe technology to reduce the injury risk that we face every time we lace up to play basketball. The shoes were made to completely eliminate ankle sprains altogether when playing basketball. The inside of the shoe has multiple ankle braces, essentially, and the outside of the shoe features a bumper-like thing on the edge of the shoe that prevents your ankle from rolling.
So, to test these things out and to show them off, the video featuring the two stars ensued. Tucker warmed up by doing a few dunks, backwards, two-hands, one hand…you know, standard stuff.
The first stunt for the video began. Tucker was setting up to dunk a ball that Ryan was spinning on a contraption that consisted of a pen tied to a pole. He dunked the spinning ball that was about at rim level with ease, Ryan raised the bar (no pun intended). Again. Dunked. With ease.
Ryan raised the bar a couple more times until he outright fully extended his arm, the ball was as high as it was going to get, and again it proved to be another effortless dunk for Jacob Tucker.
Ryan turned to the film crew with wide eyes and a big smile. All he could say was, “That’s good.”
A few stunts later, Jack Ryan was going to throw a lob pass to Tucker for an alley-oop. They set up on opposite sides of the court and Tucker began running on an angle at the basket, at this point Ryan improvised a lob pass, he had the ball in front of his body and he quickly whipped it behind his back, jamming it between his side and his left arm.
With his right arm, he hit the ball with his elbow, delivering an amazingly accurate lob pass for an alley-oop. Tucker was in awe and quickly lined up to try it again.
This wasn’t the only wild pass Ryan had in store; the next oop pass he put up there was off of the back of his head…not facing the basket. Keep in mind that both of these passes were from the three point line. Tucker, like the rest of us, was so amazed that he was brought to nothing but chuckles and smiles, exactly what Blackjack wanted.
After witnessing the most spectacular lob passes I have ever seen in my life, I asked him what the inspiration was behind his quest to become a basketball trickster. He answered with a huge Jack Ryan grin: “I saw Curly Neil spin the basketball in the cartoon they had, and all the kids around him clapped and cheered and I wanted people to clap and cheer for me, so I said, ‘I gotta do that.’”
Ryan seemingly can’t avoid that exact reaction everywhere he goes.
It was truly an amazing experience to see two incredibly gifted basketball players converge and form something that you thought you would never see. Aside from partnering with Ektio, you can expect Blackjack to continue performing at halftime shows, and forcing people to have a good time by doing it. Tucker is going to pursue a career as a strength and conditioning trainer—it works, because he’s not a bad guy to listen to for info on how to jump higher and get stronger. He will stop his pursuit of basketball for the most part, though we will still see him in some dunk competitions in the near future.
As for Ektio, the brand will be visiting different cities (New Orleans, BOS, CHI, DAL, MIA, DC, somewhere in NJ and perhaps ATL) throughout the summer to give away free ankle-protecting shoes. They are sponsoring two teams this summer, one is the X-Men, which is a semi-pro team. The other is the New Jersey Celtics, a squad that has St. Patrick’s players on it (former high school of 2011 first overall pick Kyrie Irving).
Ektio is also working on a hiking boot, walking shoe, baseball cleat and football cleat.
This video was done by 1033 films.