NBA makes mistake with new, sponsored jerseys

By Ben Everett | Sports Writer

In the spring of 2015, Adidas announced that it would not be renewing its apparel contract with the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Adidas signed an 11-year, $400 million deal in 2006 to provide all jerseys, shorts and warmups to NBA players as official gear.

The NBA wasted no time following the announcement to replace Adidas with apparel juggernaut Nike in the summer of 2015, cementing an 8-year, $1 billion deal with the Oregon-based company, set to start after the 2016-17 NBA season.

In addition to the provider, teams will also be able to sign a jersey sponsorship deal with any company they choose. The company’s logo will appear on the front left shoulder of the jersey.

So far, 12 teams have signed jersey sponsorship deals, including the Philadelphia 76ers (StubHub), Orlando Magic (Disney) and Boston Celtics (General Electric).

Many fans, including myself, were not happy when the sponsorship patch was announced.

The only professional sports in the U.S. that currently allow ads on jerseys are Major League Soccer, NASCAR and the WNBA. Of the four main professional U.S. sports (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL), the NBA is the first to allow advertisements on jerseys.

However, once I realized the only advertisement that would be present on the jersey is on the front left shoulder, I was more okay with it.

As long as the sponsorship logo doesn’t mess with the team logo and jersey color scheme, it generally looks decent.

The advertising patch, however, is only a small part of the change to the NBA’s uniforms.

Since the end of the season, new jersey designs have slowly been trickling in, with only a few NBA teams having not yet reveal their new threads.

Many teams, such as the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors did not change a bit of the design aspect, while others such as the Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers took the opportunity to completely re-tool their jerseys.

Some of major changes include sleeker looking designs, thinner shoulder straps and of course the occasional sponsorship patch.

Every one of the uniforms, however, has one other glaring change – the Nike swoosh.

While acting as the official apparel provider from 2006 to 2017, Adidas was not allowed to display its logo on the NBA uniforms, but Nike was given the OK by league officials.

So, Nike’s signature swoosh will appear in large print on front right shoulder across from the sponsorship patch, as well as on the upper left thigh.

To me, this is a problem for multiple reasons.

It doesn’t look good from a design perspective. The logo stretches the entire shoulder and encroaches on some teams’ trim designs around the neck.

With one Nike logo on the shoulder and one on the shorts, the uniforms seem more cluttered and almost feel like they have two extra sponsorship patches.

From a business perspective, it puts a chokehold on NBA players’ sneaker selection. An Adidas shoe would not look nearly as good as a Nike shoe paired with the current uniforms.

Hopefully, we will not have to wait eight years when the deal runs up for the NBA to realize giving Nike this much freedom was a mistake.