The NBA and adidas unveiled their “new look” jerseys yesterday for the upcoming 63rd All-Star game on Feb. 6 in New Orleans. And no these aren’t your “Dad’s” basketball jerseys in any shape or form – but they just might be your kid’s. Designed by adidas, the uniform look is inspired by New Orleans culture and Mardi Gras colors – and they have sleeves. While this won’t be the first time NBA players have sported a sleeved jersey in games, this is by far and away the biggest stage they have been presented on. All I can say is what took so long?
With adidas driving the concept, no one should be surprised that the German based company would design a jersey that closely resembles a soccer jersey. Adidas is the largest sportswear provider in Europe, but in the states they are an afterthought many times to companies like Nike. This is their chance to step out of the shadow and make a significant fashion statement this side of the Atlantic. And like the look or not, it makes all the sense in the world to me that the NBA would be on board. After all, like all sports leagues, the NBA is first and foremost a business. And this just make business sense.
The potential now exists to have corporate branding on basketball jerseys, something that long ago became common place on soccer fields throughout Europe. The sleeves offer prime real estate current basketball jerseys don’t possess. European soccer clubs brand every inch of their jerseys and while I don’t believe the NBA is anywhere close to branding to that degree, a carefully placed sleeve corporate logo is something else entirely. Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, a sleeved style jersey will open up a completely new and untapped market of fan sales. Think about it for a second. At what age does the average man decide he is too old to sport a tank top? 20? 25? 30? That leaves a heck of a lot of potential customers sitting in NBA arenas that would never consider buying or wearing their favorite team’s jersey (and really who wants to be sitting next to any guy no matter what his age if he’s only sporting a tank top?).
So far the reaction from players regarding the sleeves has seemed to be tepid at best. But as with anything professional sports related, if the league and the players union see the potential to increase revenues and thusly player salaries , they’ll warm up quickly – just like like if they were wearing sleeves.