I remember the exact moment I received my first official NBA replica uniform. It was Christmas, 1994, and had just picked up a present that bore the tell-tale signs of a non-electronic gift. Expecting something an 8-year-old would never want or use — another bathrobe or an article of warm winter clothing too itchy to ever see actual use — I was blown away to learn it was, in fact, something I would wear everyday until all that remained was a faded Supersonics logo and half of the name “Kemp” on the back. Full disclosure: I’ve always been a Knicks fan, but mid-nineties Shawn Kemp was a living video character, so I never had difficulty setting aside my hometown allegiance to enjoy watching him try to dunk the hoop off its moorings. Putting on that jersey for the first time felt like I had jumped into a fully functioning Iron Man suit.
This wasn’t like the reversible mesh pinnies they gave you at practice — which took three minutes to figure out which holes were for your arms and which were for your head — or the XXXL cotton t-shirts we were given in our rec league each season, which looked and felt like a dress. This was an article of clothing reserved for players so good at basketball that it had to be specifically designed without sleeves in order to allow someone like Shawn Kemp the unobstructed range of movement necessary to windmill dunk a basketball into oblivion. The sleeveless uniform was a badge of basketball proficiency, and wearing one made me want to get better.
It’s a weird motivation, but when you’re a kid, that kind of stuff matters.
Beginning last season, the NBA began transitioning to a new uniform style: lighter weight, larger graphics and, most notably, tiny, skin-tight sleeves. The overwhelming response to this move has been, at best, lukewarm. At worst, the Christmas day “Big Logo” debacle, which was unanimously panned by people with eyeballs. Now, French website basket4ballers.com has leaked what appears to be the 2014 Adidas-designed NBA All-Star uni, and guess what? It has sleeves.
First of all, sleeved jerseys (and this one in particular) already exist, and they’re called “warm ups.” The idea of transitioning the pre-game outfit to primetime confuses the shit out of me. It seems redundant. Imagine wearing jeans underneath some khakis. Seems ridiculous, right? That’s because it is. And layering two of the exact same shirts underneath one another in an NBA setting seems poorly planned and unnecessary.
Secondly, the graphics that accompany the sleeves seem to try too hard to make the uniform not look like the mustard-stained Hanes t-shirt you wear when you’re sitting around your home, farting. Adidas goes out of its way to render overly futuristic designs on the front of said uniforms, which almost always look silly, because after all, it’s a basketball uniform, and not a Spartan suit from the Halo games. In compensating for the bold choice to make the jersey different, they end up making them look like the corny, over-designed logos from the early 2000’s.
Like that bizarre Silver Surfer And One logo Warriors design. Who the hell thought this was a good idea?
Lastly, the trend of v-necked uniforms — which already came and went — make them look even less appropriate for basketball, and more suited for soccer. But hey, what do you expect when you give a German soccer clothing company full reign over the stylistic direction of the National Basketball Association? Basketball is an indoor contact sport, like boxing, and the uniforms they wear at it’s highest level should reflect such. The sleeves, which Adidas claims help absorb sweat, look superfluous on a guy running around in a temperature regulated building. If more material does indeed provide a perspiration-wicking advantage, why not throw in a turtle-neck? Why the angular neck-line dip, as if it were some sort of neon orange American Apparel women’s blouse?
Why? Oh, that’s right money.
It just seems like an obviously ploy to get people to buy the new set of uniforms, and I, for one, hate being blatantly marketed to. Ditch the sleeves, please. They’re stupid, and no American male will buy them. Then ditch Adidas for an American company, like, oh, say, Nike, and bring back the tanks. They improved the NFL’s gear, why not get them back in to the sport they’re most associated with?
In the meantime, roll a comb and some Lucky Strikes up in those things, and ride your motorcycle off into the sunset.
Photo via Uproxx