Like peanut butter and jelly, sports teams and sports company endorsements just go together. Brands like Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, and even Gatorade excel when athletes are wearing (or drinking, in Gatorade’s case) their branded products.
Nike has taken it a step further, though. The sports brand giant has just announced its smart designs for several new NBA team uniforms. This is a major change for the NBA, who, from 2006 to this year, relied on rival brand Adidas to manufacture the uniforms, and kept the NBA from striking outside deals with any other merchandiser.
Nike and the NBA recently finalized a global multiyear partnership. What this means is, for the upcoming season into next year, Nike will put its own spin on many a team’s uniform, redesigning these almost from scratch.
There was a lot of planning and research that went into such an undertaking. According to a press conference from the sports company itself, “…Nike tuned the uniform design to the rigors of this increasingly intense 82-game season by employing 3D-body maps of players, including heat and sweat maps. This research led Nike’s designers to make significant changes to the weight, fit and construction — with special attention to enhancing ability.”
In other words, these uniforms are as much about the looks as they are about the functionality.
Nike spared no expense, making deliberate yet precise choices about every last stitch of fabric that went into these uniforms. The company notes that the new uniforms will dry 15 percent faster, wick away 30 percent more sweat, and absorb moisture more efficiently.
The fabrics used, in case you were wondering, are mostly recycled polyester and Alpha Yarns. These materials are eco-friendly too; 20 polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles are recycled per uniform.
Nike didn’t just design the uniforms themselves; the company also called on key basketball players to get involved in the process.
Some of these players, such as Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green, couldn’t be more thrilled. “When you look and feel good, you play good…I welcome any competitive advantage on the court and the new Nike NBA uniforms deliver on the feedback that we’ve provided,” he said.
Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers also echoed similar sentiments. “The mental advantage of a quality uniform is priceless…The fact that Nike listened to all our of feedback while developing the new NBA uniforms speaks volumes. I’m excited for the new fit and feel,” he said.
Another huge change is underfoot as well. Instead of road and home uniforms, Nike has introduced Icon and Association uniforms. This gives players more of an option when it comes to choosing their uniforms. They won’t automatically be relegated to white (the Association Edition uniform) just because they’re the home team. Instead, they could wear an alternate colored uniform.
Nike didn’t stop there. The company plans on unveiling two more iterations of these new home and away uniforms, but those won’t be until September at least.
So, now comes the big question: what exactly do the new uniforms look like? This is something we also have to wait on, as only a handful of teams have proudly and excitedly shown off their new uniforms (including both Icon and Association Editions). These are the ones we’ve seen so far.
The Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings have two logos front and center on their uniforms: Nike and Blue Diamond Almonds. The latter speaks to the “health and wellness” of the players’ home state of California.
The Kings have said via press release that the uniforms are seamless for fewer distractions. The recycled polyester construction and waistband crown logo are other standouts.
The Portland Trail Blazers
Trail Blazers’ Vice President of Brand Strategy Ryan Flaherty mentioned in a press release how “we decided to go through a pretty extensive brand audit that included looking at our identity” as the precursor for the new uniforms. The decision to get new ones comes after four years of rigorous planning.
“…We had kind of the old, swoopy high school jersey and the rounded collar. If nothing else, the silhouette and the font is going to modernize it,” Flaherty explained.
Oklahoma City Thunder
A picture speaks a thousand words, as the Oklahoma City Thunder illustrated with their Twitter post comparing before and after uniforms.
Their new ensembles boast the same recycled fabric mentioned above with moisture-wicking technology. The Thunder players will also enjoy motion-enhancing hemlines, a prominent waistband logo, a larger Nike logo, and a change in the shoulder hemlines, which are again for better mobility.
Wearing their Detroit pride loud, the Pistons’ logo features the name of their city stamped right on the chest. With the Nike swoosh logo on the left side, on the right is Flagstar Bank, another affiliate of the basketball team.
This partnership is a big deal for the Pistons. As Tom Gores, the team owner, explains: “Beyond putting the Flagstar name on our Pistons jerseys, we will be partnering on an education initiative that will benefit schoolchildren in Detroit.”
Another team that couldn’t be more pumped about their new uniforms is the Indiana Pacers. The biggest design difference, especially compared to the other uniforms we’ve seen so far, is the addition of the dynamic side panels on the outer sides of both the shirt and shorts.
Lance Stephenson, Pacers’ guard, feels especially confident about the reception the uniforms will garner. “It’s a great new look for the new-look Pacers…They fit great, they feel great. I think fans are really going to like them,” he said.
The Charlotte Hornets have a small but significant change in their jerseys compared to everyone else’s: instead of the Nike logo on the top left corner, it’s the Jordan Brand Jumpman logo instead. That’s a distinction only the Hornets get to enjoy.
“The new uniforms are particularly special to us because they formally align our Hornets brand with that of our owner, Michael Jordan, bringing us added visibility around the world,” Fred Whitfield, the COO and Hornets President, explained in a press release.
Last but certainly not least is the Philadelphia 76ers reveal, the most recent of them all. The team hasn’t put out an official press release yet, but we’re sure they will soon. For now, take a look at these pictures to get your first glimpse of the new 76ers uniform.
If you weren’t already excited for basketball season, these new uniforms certainly ought to do it. Keep your eyes peeled for more uniform reveals, which we will cover as they happen.