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.”

Irving’s 47 lead Celtics past Mavericks to maintain streak

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DALLAS (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 10 of his season-high 47 points in overtime as the Boston Celtics rallied once again from a double-digit deficit to beat the Dallas Mavericks 110-102 on Monday night and extend their winning streak to 16 games.

The Mavericks led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter, but as they have several times during their winning streak, the Celtics stormed back.

The winning streak ties the fourth-longest in Celtics history.

Boston tied the game at 96 when Irving stole the ball from Dirk Nowitzki and fed Jayson Tatum for an alley-oop lay-up that hung on the rim for a full second before dropping through.

Irving scored his team’s first six points of overtime. Then after Jaylen Brown gave Boston a 104-102 lead with a jumper with 1:39 to play, Irving went to work on Yogi Ferrell, backing him down and drawing contact on a lay-up with 48.5 seconds to play. Though Irving missed the free throw to keep the score 106-102, Dallas never got closer.

Harrison Barnes scored 31 points and Wesley Matthews had 18 for Dallas, which came back from an early double-digit deficit as the Celtics went cold for much of the second and third quarters.

Irving and Barnes had chances in the final 30 seconds but both missed shots that would have given their teams the lead.

The Mavericks fell behind by as many as 15 points in the first half, outscoring the Celtics 55-35 over the second and third quarters.

Dallas took its biggest lead of the game when Yogi Ferrell fed a cutting Dwight Powell for a lay-up to make it 87-74 with 7:47 to play before the Celtics rallied.

Boston shot just 10-for-34 over the two middle quarters after building the early lead.

 

DeMarcus Cousins ejected after elbowing Russell Westbrook in head

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DeMarcus Cousins‘ history of flagrant fouls certainly didn’t help him here, but if anyone elbows a guy in the head, he’s going to get tossed.

And that’s what Cousins did here.

Midway through the third quarter in New Orleans, Cousins blocked a putback attempt by Russell Westbrook, then grabbed the rebound. Westbrook tried to reach in across Cousins’ body for the steal, and Cousins cleared out space with his elbow — right to Westbrook’s head. Cousins walked around saying “no, no, no” afterward, and he likely thinks the officials had it out for him here because he was just getting a guy off him, but we go back to the original point — elbow a guy in the head, get tossed. The league is cracking down on blows above the neck. Westbrook did not leave the game.

The Pelicans went on to come from 19 down to win the game 114-107, behind 36 points and 15 boards from Anthony Davis.

Damn, Paul George with the in-game bounce pass alley-oop to Jerami Grant

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The game has been close (as of midway through the third quarter), but that didn’t stop Oklahoma City from putting on a show in New Orleans.

Paul George had the ball on a 2-on-0 fast break and decided to throw the playground bounce-pass alley-oop, which Jerami Grant got up and finished with authority. This could be one of the dunks of the year.

We’re going to see that highlight for a while.

Jusuf Nurkic’s agent says big man wants to stay in Portland this summer

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Last season, after his trade from frustrated backup big in Denver to new starter in Portland, there was a honeymoon — the Blazers went 14-6, their defense was better, and Nurkic was a big man setting big picks for quick guards in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

This season the honeymoon is over, things have been up and down, but far from time to say the marriage should end, as he is a free agent next summer. Nurkic is the only real starting center on the roster (even if coach Terry Stotts left him on the bench in the fourth quarter in favor of Ed Davis a few games back). Nurkic is averaging 14.6 points and 7.2 rebounds a game, and the Blazers’ defense is 1.5 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court. However, his effort level has been up and down, and his shot is off, with a true shooting percentage of just 49.4, and he is shooting just 56.6 percent in the restricted area.

Nurkic wants to stay in Portland, his agent told Ben Golliver in a story at Sports Illustrated (that story is worth the read for the Nurkic origin story, which is amazing).

“I feel like the Blazers are very happy with Jusuf and Jusuf is very happy there,” Tesch, the agent, told The Crossover by telephone this week. “We had some [extension] talks but we decided to play it out this year and engage in talks again in July. He has already proven that he can help the team. There is a fit for Jusuf in Portland and he’s looking to stay there long-term.”

The two sides talked extension before the season, but Portland understandably wanted to make sure there was more to this relationship than just a honeymoon. It gave Nurkic a chance to drive up his asking price.

Portland and Nurkic likely will find a long-term deal next summer because it just makes sense for both sides. There are not a lot of teams with max free agent money next summer (4-6, I was told by an insider), or a lot of money to spend in general, and both DeAndre Jordan and DeMarcus would be centers on the market who rank ahead of Nurkic. Portland will offer more than other free agent destinations, if not as much as Nurkic dreamed of, and they will find common ground.

But there is a lot of season to play out before then. The Blazers feel like a team that should be better than its record so far, and Nurkic is part of that untapped potential. If things change, that’s good for Nurkic — and the Blazers.