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The Humble ‘Sticky Pad’ Keeping N.B.A. Sneakers on the Court

Gabe Vincent and Max Strus of the Miami Heat sat in their side-by-side lockers at Madison Square Garden an hour before a game against the Knicks. Strus was eating vegetables and rice, and Vincent was changing into his uniform after practicing shots.

But Vincent paused when he overheard Strus talking about wiping the bottoms of his shoes with the palm of his hands.

“Oh,” Vincent said incredulously, “you’re a lick-and-wipe guy?”

“I don’t lick,” Strus said, dropping his fork to reply. “I don’t lick. No, no, no.” His voice was tinged with indignation, as though Vincent had accused him of a crime.