Pure gum bottom. E’rrybody got ’em.

Or do they? In 1904, A. G. Spalding Bros.—better known as just “Spalding”—introduced the Spalding “Expert” Basket Ball Shoe. It had state-of-the-art features like a pure gum rubber sole.

Spalding was by far the most dominant sporting goods manufacturer in the world, the Nike of their time, owning the athletic merchandise market with product offerings for every single sport.

Whatever happened to Spalding? Maybe it was competition from the Converse Rubber Company, known today as simply Converse, which was formed in 1908.

Or maybe it was because of something else, a clue to which can be found in the last line of this advertisement for Spalding’s new basket ball shoes, designed “for expert use only.”

We do not guarantee the soles of these shoes.

Well, then how could they guarantee the souls of their players? Evidently, they couldn’t. So it wasn’t long before they lost their grip on the basketball footwear market.

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