As much as we want to believe the NBA is only about the beautiful game of basketball, we know that that is not the case. The NBA is simply a business that uses basketball as a means to drive it and so when they partnered up with the powerhouse that is Nike, it was a match made in (dollar) heaven.
Earlier this off season, the buzz around Nike taking over the jersey production for the NBA started to intensify. But this isn’t just a switch in manufacturer who will produce the same jersey we’ve been seeing. Nike has brought on a whole ‘nother level of aesthetics and technology to the player’s uniforms that probably makes Adidas think “damnit, why didn’t we think of that?”. So besides seeing that infamous swoosh on the chest of players, what else has changed? Let’s break it down:
1. It’s all about screen time baby – first thing you will notice is not actually related to Nike but rather it was an NBA decision. Teams will now be able to find suitors for 2.5-inch by 2.5-inch ad space on the front of jerseys. This has been something that other basketball leagues around the world have been doing for years and it was just a matter of time until the NBA would follow suit. Right now, this program is in the pilot stages as the NBA agreed to just a 3-year deal with teams. This opportunity will allow an estimated $100 million in extra revenue to come in for team. For the Toronto Raptors, they sold this right to Sun Life Financial. Would I get a jersey with the Sun Life logo, probably not. But ask me again once they have Pizza Pizza on the jersey, then we’ll talk.
2. The more, the merrier – the idea of “home” and “away” jerseys are now the thing of the past as Nike has created different options for each team. The NBA has been slowly releasing the types of jersey for this season and here are the options thus far:
- The “Association Edition” will be replacing the traditional white, home jersey.
- The “Icon Edition” which would be like their tradition away jersey.
- The “Statement Edition” which is a team’s main alternative jersey.
- The “Classic Edition” which would be the team’s most iconic look.
On Friday, September 15, 2017, all 30 "Statement Editions" were revealed in pretty epic fashion...
Since what the team wears is no longer dictated by where they play, home teams will get to choose which edition they will wear and the away team will base their choice on that.
3. Let’s stay connected, shall we – this is a change that absolutely blows my mind but at the same time, doesn’t surprise me at all considering that it’s Nike. NBA and Nike will be giving fans the opportunity to be even more connected with their favourite players through the Nike NBA Connect Jersey. The idea of tapping is no longer left to just our debit and credit cards but it will be what connects fans to their favourite players in real time. This is all accomplished by embedding a near field communication, NFC for short, chip within the jersey. This will provide fans with player-exclusive content such as pre-game footage, highlights, playlist of the player’s hype up music and even discounts on other forms of team apparel. The reported cost to stay this connected with your favourite player is $200, you think it’s worth it?
All these changes are the NBA’s way of remaining current and in this case, even ahead of its time. As much as we all like those throwback jerseys, it is crazy how progressive technology is becoming by even injecting it into something as simple as a player’s uniform.