Nike and NBA May Drop Sleeved Jerseys and Affordable Replicas

No sleeves, no Swingmans; no sleeved Swingmans.

Sports
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Nike will become the sole apparel provider, both on and off the court, for the NBA next season, taking the reins from longtime sportswear rival adidas. While we wait to see what new technologies and designs the Swoosh plans to add, we’re already getting word on what elements Nike wants to ditch, starting with the controversial, football-inspired sleeved jerseys. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Nike, meanwhile, is expected to present its initial NBA jersey designs to retailers beginning this week. The company said it doesn’t plan to produce sleeved jerseys, a style debuted by adidas in 2013 that received mixed reviews from players and fans.”

As Yahoo notes, the wording is a bit ambiguous: the WSJ states Nike “doesn’t plan to produce sleeved jerseys” but that doesn’t mean Nike won’t produce sleeved jerseys. Nevertheless, it’s worth stating that Nike’s biggest signature athlete, one LeBron James, has never been a fan of the basketball kits. He complained about their introduction during the slate of Christmas games in 2013, and how could we forget when he ripped the sleeves of his jersey during a regular season game in 2015.

Not to mention they haven’t even sold well. Couple that with the player’s dislike, most notably its billion dollar investment, and Nike doesn’t have much of a reason to bring them back. Commissioner Adam Silver even told Bleacher Report back in 2015 that he wasn’t attached to the idea. “Ultimately, if the players don’t like them, we’ll move on to something else.”

Secondly, as the WSJ notes, the NBA will begin to remove affordable replica jerseys, affectionately known as Swingman jerseys to some, from shops around the world, with Nike passing the manufacturing and selling over to Fanatics.

Beginning with the 2017-18 season, so-called replica NBA jerseys will be only sold on the league’s website and by online retailer Fanatics, which will manufacture the jerseys. Higher-priced jerseys, similar to the ones worn on-court by players, will be manufactured by Nike Inc. and sold through its retail partners.

Major sports leagues offer different versions of jerseys, ranging from expensive “authentic” ones that are most similar to those worn by players, to replicas which are typically screen-printed on different fabrics. The NBA also sells mid-priced “swingman” jerseys, which have most of the same features as player kits but with more simplified stitching.

Replica jerseys made by Adidas AG cost about $70, while swingman jerseys are priced at $110, and the on-court jerseys fetch $300. The NBA said pricing under the new arrangement hasn’t been finalized.

So it’s not that the NBA is dropping replica jerseys entirely, but they will be much harder to purchase, as in you can’t just swimg by your local mall or sporting goods store to pick up a jersey.

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