NEW ORLEANS — Adam Silver met with the media before the All-Star Saturday night festivities began, and addressed a wide variety of topics during his first official press conference as the NBA’s new commissioner.
A polarizing point of conversation among fans has been the sleeved jerseys that debuted last season, and have seen increased exposure this year. While there has been a vocal minority opposed to the look, Silver says that sales numbers prove that the fans approve, and do so in large quantities.
“From a fan standpoint, the greatest indicator is how are they selling, and I’ll say we’re having trouble keeping them in the stores,” Silver said. “There’s enormous demand for those jerseys. Fans like them and I happen to like them, too.”
A bigger issue, perhaps, is when players choose to become vocal in their dislike of the sleeves — particularly when it’s coming from one the game’s biggest stars.
LeBron James blamed his poor shooting on Christmas Day on the sleeves, but Silver reiterated what we’ve known for some time, which is that there hasn’t been any difference in shooting percentages overall in games where the sleeved jerseys have been worn.
“Player feedback has been mixed,” Silver said. “I’ve talked to lots of players who like them. I’ve heard directly from other players who don’t like them.”
“If players believe it has any impact whatsoever on the competition, even if it’s just a perception, we need to deal with it,” Silver continued. “We know that shooting percentages are virtually exactly the same for games in which we have sleeved jerseys and teams in which the guys are wearing conventional jerseys. So I’m pretty comfortable from a competitive standpoint that it’s having no impact.”
While the sleeves may have no competitive impact and the fans are voting with their dollars that they like the style, something that may negatively impact that trend is placing ads on jerseys at some point in the future. Silver said that it’s not something that’s on the immediate horizon, but he does believe it’s coming.
“We’re not close at the moment to including sponsors on jerseys,” Silver said. “It’s something that we’re continuing to look at. I believe it ultimately will happen in the NBA. I think it makes good business sense.”