It is now official. The NBA will no longer have jerseys with sleeves.
Sara Germano of the Wall Street Journal reported that Nike wasn’t planning to make sleeved NBA jerseys as they take over the league’s uniform and apparel contract from Adidas. However, many people noted that the wording left open the possibility of Nike officials changing their minds and no official announcement was ever made by Nike or the NBA.
However, multiple sources have confirmed to Business Insider that NBA teams will not have sleeved jerseys for the 2017-18 season.
In recent months, most teams have unveiled their main home and road uniforms — now dubbed “Association” and “Icon” uniforms as teams can now more freely choose which to wear at home and on the road. Teams will also have a pair of alternate uniforms that have not been released yet. In recent years, it was those alternate unis that often had sleeves, but any doubt the new alternates having sleeves is now gone.
The Golden State Warriors were the first team to wear a sleeved jersey, debuting their version during the 2012-13 season, and a handful of teams joined them the following season. During the 2016-17 season, 19 of the 30 NBA teams had a sleeved jersey.
The jerseys were contentious among both the players and the fans. Many fans simply hated the nontraditional look, while many players complained about the fit, comfort, and the impact the sleeves had on their shooting.
During the 2013-14 season, many players voiced their complaints about the sleeves being too tight, with LeBron James emphatically saying, “I can’t shoot with these!” The following season, LeBron was famously caught on camera ripping open the sleeves after some missed shots.
Eventually, the sleeves were loosened and players warmed up to them. LeBron and the Cavs even grew superstitiously attached to their sleeved black jerseys during their run to the 2015-16 NBA championship. The Cavs wore the sleeved jerseys during road games in the finals — a rule at the time would not allow the Cavs to wear them at home — including their decisive Game 7 win over the Warriors in Oakland.
The disappearance of the sleeves is not the only league-wide change being made to NBA uniforms. The new jerseys will also feature the Nike swoosh logo on the front, or in the case of the Charlotte Hornets, who are owned by Michael Jordan, the Jordan Brand Jumpman logo. NBA uniforms in previous years did not have the Adidas logo. Also, about half the teams have sold advertising patches that will be featured on the front of the jerseys.
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