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A New Jersey Doctor’s Quest to Build a Better Basketball Sneaker

Florida Gators guard Scottie Wilbekin winces in pain after twisting his ankle during a NCAA basketball game in Storrs, Connecticut on Dec. 2, 2013
Florida Gators guard Scottie Wilbekin winces in pain after twisting his ankle during a NCAA basketball game in Storrs, Connecticut on Dec. 2, 2013Photograph by Bill Shettle/Corbis

Over the weekend, millions of TV viewers tuning in to March Madness will likely watch a collegiate athlete rise for a rebound and land awkwardly, causing his ankle to roll over the outside of his shoe. The hoopster will writhe in pain, leaving the audience caught between fascination and the cringing impulse to look away.

Barry Katz, a professional radiologist and part-time inventor, may see a future customer. Since 2010 his Bridgewater (N.J.)-based company, Ektio, has been marketing what it says is a better basketball shoe. The sneaker, called the Breakaway, has a system of straps and outriggers designed to prevent ankle rolls, and retails for $130. The company has raised about $2 million in seed funding and inked deals with former NBA stars Rick Barry and John Starks, who talk up Ektio during media appearances. That leaves one big problem left to solve: finding customers.