Players wiping their sneakers during deadball periods is ubiquitous now. I remember hearing somewhere that Larry Bird started doing it, but not for any particular reason.

Is he the first to make this action during a game? Was there another player to have done it sooner?

  • I've deleted the image here - please don't add images which are not available under a CC-BY-SA license or under fair use.
    – Philip Kendall
    Mar 25 '19 at 19:25

If you are referring to the bottom of sneakers, it is to remove any dust, dirt, etc., that would cause the shoe sole to have less of a grip on the floor. Once something that is rubber-like gets dust on them, it can become slick. This can cause a player to slide when unwanted, and can potentially cause injury if unexpected.


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