adidas says aggregate reaction to sleeved jerseys from players and fans has been ‘very positive’

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NEW YORK — The 2014 All-Star jerseys were officially unveiled by the folks at adidas on Thursday, but media were invited to the company’s showroom in New York the week prior to get a look at the uniform collection in person.

Along with the sneak peek, executives from adidas and the NBA were available to discuss the sleeved design, which has been controversial among fans from the very start.

But as we continue to discuss, as long as they sell, they aren’t going anywhere. And Chris Grancio, adidas head of global basketball sports marketing confirmed that the sales of the sleeved alternate jerseys have, to this point, indeed been very strong.

“Terrific,” Grancio told NBCSports.com. “[Sales have] exceeded expectations. We’re very pleased with the results so far, and in our view, based on the way in aggregate players and consumers have reacted to it, it’s been very positive.”

That last part is contrary to what you may think if you do nothing but read basketball Twitter when the topic of the sleeved jerseys comes up, and the game’s best player in LeBron James, remember, made a point to complain about them following his poor outside shooting performance on Christmas Day against the Lakers.

The company doesn’t do any custom fitting of the jerseys, but they do, however, make samples in all sizes widely available to teams before they’re scheduled to play in them in a game that counts. And that included LeBron and the Heat long before Christmas.

“He had practiced in it,” said Christopher Arena, NBA Vice President of Apparel, Sporting Goods & Basketball Partnerships. “I’ve seen pictures.”

The majority of players, according to Grancio, say the sleeved jerseys have zero impact on their performance, and that they are a complete non-issue after a very short time.

“Probably the most consistent piece of feedback I hear from players when we go to a team practice and work with the equipment manager, put sizing samples out and they go shoot for a few minutes — the number one thing we hear back is, ‘I forget I’m wearing it,’ ” Grancio said. “With the amount of design work that went into ensuring that this jersey performs identically to a tank, we’ve really delivered that. And when I’ve been in locker rooms talking to players about it, the consensus has been, ‘after I’m out there shooting and playing for 10 or 15 minutes, I forget that it’s different.’ ”

The debate will rage on, but as long as sales continue to exceed expectations, the players are going to need to get used to it. adidas maintains that it hasn’t been a problem for most, and in fact, some players who have big games wearing them may instantly become the sleeved jerseys’ biggest supporters.

“We’ve done tremendous amounts of testing with NBA athletes,” Grancio said. “And there is no performance difference. Based on athlete feedback, based on the numbers, it really is aesthetic preference, I think.

“Chris Paul scored 40 the first time he wore one in a pre-season game, so, he’s a fan.”

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.