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.”