In 2007, Dwight Howard donned a Superman cape before leaping to victory in the slam dunk competition. In an attempt to defend his title this weekend (he came in second), Howard topped his own theatrics by entering a phone booth for his annual costume change. The basketball player-cum-superhero returned to the court to dunk, not in a regulation 10-foot basket, but in a 12-foot-high hoop.
While it's natural to attribute such supernatural feats to Howard's freakish physical stature -- or perhaps to the cape around his neck -- it was actually the skintight clothing beneath the cape that produced the boldest and most easily quantifiable performance enhancement. An undergarment described as, not clothing, but equipment, the Adidas Techfit Powerweb contains carefully placed strips of thermoplastic urethane that stores energy like a spring, and lets athletes release it on their villain of choice.