During the All-Star weekend festivities in New Orleans, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that the sleeved jerseys, which have received more than their fair share of criticism, have had no competitive impact on the outcomes of games.
But if players really have a legitimate problem with them, or even if there is a pervasive belief that they are negatively impacting performance, it’s something he would have to look at changing.
“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 said.
At this rate, he will need to deal with it. Players continue to complain, as LeBron James did for the second time this season after losing to the Spurs.
Jarrett Jack, now toiling away in Cleveland as a member of the Cavaliers, was with the Warriors last year as part of the first group to wear the short-sleeved jerseys. And being a self-appointed authority on the matter, Jack says that the players would stop complaining if they had the jerseys individually tailored for a better, customized fit.
That’s why Jack has a suggestion for anyone listening in the NBA’s merchandising department: Get individual player measurements and tailor the sleeved jerseys to each player.
It seems as if that would be a hefty undertaking, but Jack counters that if the league already has provided some players with tighter jerseys (see Houston’s Dwight Howard), it wouldn’t be that much of a leap to tailor jerseys to each player.
“It wouldn’t take long,” he said. “If you went and got everybody’s measurements, it’d take five minutes. And you made those jerseys specific to everybody’s exact needs, it’d save everyone headaches.”
It’s an idea worth considering, but a player could also simply go up a size if indeed he felt the sleeves were too restrictive.
Silver will surely look at all options, especially if sales numbers on the jerseys continue to exceed expectations. But it’s a bad look for the game’s biggest stars to continually gripe about them, even if the numbers say there’s been no negative impact made by the sleeves on a league-wide basis.
“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,” Silver said. “So I’m pretty comfortable from a competitive standpoint that it’s having no impact.”
Even so, Jack would like to see them disappear altogether simply due to aesthetic preference.
“We’re like the Beach Police,” Jack said. “You know those police who are on the beach with those bikes? They’ve got those little shirts with the shorts? That’s what we look like. Like we about to give somebody a citation.”