By Patrick Barron,
Sports Business Writer
It is official: Nike has replaced Adidas as the maker of NBA uniforms, and they are embracing big changes. Some will be receptive to the new moves, however other fans may dislike the future of the sports apparel world as technology beings to influence designs.
In June 2015, the league and the sports apparel giant announced on the NBA website, “an eight-year global merchandising and marketing partnership that will make NIKE the official oncourt apparel provider beginning with the 2017-18 NBA season.”
Additionally, NIKE, Inc. President and CEO Mark Parker said at the time, “We’re excited to bring the full power of our global reach, innovation and creativity to partner with the NBA and grow the game in a way only NIKE can. In NIKE, Jordan, and Converse, we have three of the most connected brands in the world, and look forward to making the global growth of the game a successful strategy for both the NBA and NIKE.”
Fast forward a couple of years later, and Nike is taking advantage of its new opportunities. Its recent event held in Los Angeles unveiled the alternate jerseys for all 30 NBA teams, among notable things such as its new “Therma Flex Showtime” warm-up hoodies. As a matter of fact, 30 players composed of one from each team were on stage during the event as Nike showcased its new products. Plus, hip hop artist Travis Scott performed during the event.
Also, Nike introduced connected NBA jerseys which aims to innovate the fan apparel world. It works by embedding an NFC chip, different in each connected basketball jersey and utilizing technology. In combination with the NIKEconnect app fans can have unique user experiences through their smartphones.
Some journalists such as CBSSports.com’s Matt Moore noted of the event, “Nike is not here to be subtle.”However, the basketball apparel behemoth will want to showcase its staying power as it successfully continues to fight off challengers from rivals such as Under Armour, even with superstar point guard Stephen Curry at the helm, and from longtime competitor Adidas.
A notorious gaffe from Nike was its presentation to Curry in 2013 before his dominance in the NBA. During the meeting, the presentation contained several errors such as Kevin Durant’s name remaining on a PowerPoint slide. On a separate but related note, NPD Group reported recently that Adidas had overtaken Nike’s Jordan brand as the number two seller of footwear even though Nike retains the pole position.
Even with the noted blemish and renewed competition, Nike continues to dominate basketball apparel with its roster of superstar athletes. For instance, superstar point guard for Oklahoma City Thunder and current NBA MVP Russell Westbrook, who averaged a triple double for the season, recently signed a long-term deal with Nike Jordan brand. Reported by Nick DePaula of ESPN, Westbrook and Jordan Brand agreed to a 10-year contract.
Coupled with superstar athletes such as Paul George, Kyrie Irving, and LeBron James, it is not surprising that Nike feels confident in his position in the basketball apparel world.
The allure from Jumpman is powerful making it difficult for athletes to simply ignore and cast aside.
With Nike’s recent moves it is hard to envision other companies creating a dent in the basketball apparel world as it continues to reign supreme.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 26th print edition.
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