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.”

Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid lead Sixers past Jazz 113-107

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jimmy Butler had the sellout crowd chanting his name and singing his favorite theme song.

Butler scored 28 points in his home debut, Joel Embiid had 23 and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Utah Jazz 113-107 on Friday night.

Butler, the four-time All-Star acquired Monday from Minnesota in a five-player trade, got a loud ovation during introductions and quickly made an impression as the Sixers built a 16-point lead in the first quarter.

Fans serenaded him throughout the game and he got to hear the team’s “1-2-3 Sixers” theme song after the win.

“I already knew this crowd would be excited,” Butler said. “Now that I have them on my side it’s better for me. Y’all, we, have some great fans. Y’all have the catchiest song. I used to sing it in my head when I came in here.”

The Jazz rallied after a rough first quarter and the teams went back-and-forth in the fourth quarter. Jae Crowder‘s put-back after Ricky Rubio‘s stole the ball and missed a lay-up gave Utah a 107-105 lead with 1:37 left. JJ Redick tied it on a pair of free throws. Ben Simmons‘ driving lay-up gave the 76ers a 109-107 lead.

Butler then hit a jumper to extend the lead and drew an offensive foul, sending the crowd into a frenzy as Hall of Famer Allen Iverson jumped up to celebrate from his courtside seat.

“The atmosphere was amazing,” Embiid said.

The 76ers are 29-1 in last 30 regular-season home games.

Redick had 16 points and Simmons had 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Embiid scored 12 of his points in the fourth quarter after he played less than a minute in the third because he had four fouls.

Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 31 points.

“We competed but we have to be smarter,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We had some mistakes where we have to think more. They add up against a team like this.”

After the Jazz made the first basket, Butler scored on a reverse layup to begin a 12-0 run. He also nailed a 3-pointer during that stretch as Philadelphia dominated early.

But Utah closed to 54-52 at halftime following Derrick Favors‘ alley-oop dunk.

Redick and Mike Muscala hit consecutive 3s early in the third quarter. However, the Jazz came back and went up 81-80 on Mitchell’s jumper late in the quarter.

“Up until the end, we made a few mistakes, but we played passionate,” Mitchell said. “Honestly, they’re a great team, but we had the game in the bag except for a few mistakes. I think the game just got away.”

 

Report: Rockets lure assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik out of retirement with ‘significant raise’

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After a slow start, the Rockets got assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik to come out of retirement.

How?

The usual way employers attract someone to a job.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Fertitta was alarmed enough to personally recruit defensive guru Jeff Bzdelik, who retired just before training camp, to return, offering what sources say was a significant raise that pushed his salary to a range that ranks among the NBA’s highest-paid assistant coaches.

Good for Bzdelik using his leverage. He looked like a defensive whiz last season, and Houston slipped without him. Of course, personnel matters, too. There’s no guarantee these Rockets – minus Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute – reach last year’s defensive level.

Bzdelik has been back around the team, but isn’t working full-time yet. It’ll take a while to assess his impact on Houston.

And good for Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta paying up. Fertitta is still trying to determine the right amount for him to spend, but the team is better off if he’s willing to pay what’s necessary to attract the most desirable coaches.

Charles Barkley addresses Draymond Green-Kevin Durant dynamic (video)

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Want to hear an entertaining guy address an entertaining topic? Here you go.

Trae Young: I’ll be better than Luka Doncic

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Trae Young and Luka Doncic will be forever linked by their draft-night trade.

The Hawks took Doncic No. 3 then traded down with the Mavericks for No. 5 pick Young and a future first-round pick.

Young, via Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated:

“The thing with Luka,” Young says, “he’s a great player. I don’t understand why it can’t work out for both situations. I hear [Atlanta made a mistake] all the time. Luka’s a great dude, and I think he’s going to be a really good player. But at the same time, I’m going to be a better player. Just because of my ability to stretch the floor, get others involved, I think I’ll be better.”

Of course, Young was never going to say Doncic would be better than him. But Young didn’t have to address this so directly at all. By going out of his way to make such a bold statement, Young puts more pressure on himself.

So far, both Doncic and Young have impressed. I’ll still stick with Doncic, though. Enough to justify Dallas surrendering that extra first-round pick? That’s a far tougher call and the one the Hawks will be judged by.

Young doesn’t want that leniency, though. He’s aiming to be better than Doncic straight up and unafraid to say so publicly.