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Michael Jordan secretly used strobe technology to increase performance

Michael Jordan documentary

Chicago Bulls v Indiana Pacers

NBAE/Getty Images

You know those camera flashes that go off during an NBA game? What if you could get used to those over time? Could you use that as an advantage over your opponents? Could you train with strobes as a way of increasing tactile ability with the ball, forcing your brain to feel instead of see?

According to an ESPN story published on Tuesday, that’s exactly what Michael Jordan did in secret during his playing days.

But that’s not all.

According to the story, both Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Curry use a version of strobe goggles based on the same concept.

First, on Curry from ESPN:

“It helps to get rid of wasteful motion, wasteful timing,” Payne says. “We wanted it to feel like game action was slow motion.”

Curry wore the goggles during his workouts over the course of the season and kept his neuromuscular efficiency at full tilt. He turned defenders into statues and blew the lid off of efficiency norms. He notched the first 50/40/90 shooting season while scoring at least 30 points per game, becoming the first unanimous MVP in NBA history.

And then on Leonard:

So Leonard got his hands on stroboscopic goggles. Exactly how that happened remains a bit of a mystery. Terrified that word of the goggles will get out, one Spurs staffer after another refused to talk. What we do know is that for four days, Leonard wore these high-tech glasses at the gym -- picture a sleeker version of Horace Grant’s goggles -- during his traditional dribbling, passing and shooting drills. Unlike Nike Vapor Strobes, this particular set of eyewear, the MJ Impulse model, is marketed toward elite military officers for combat training.

So, to recap. The greatest basketball player ever wanted to train to combat camera flashes. Fast forward 20 years and now Curry and Leonard are using military goggles to go nuclear on the NBA.

There’s not much that really surprises me anymore when it comes to sports. It all sort of flows together as the tide rises. But man, this one is crazy.

This is where I’d typically use a technology reference to make a Kawhi/robot joke, but instead I simply recommend reading the entire story over at TrueHoop.