Golden State Warriors unveil alternate uniform with sleeves
The new unis, which feature what official NBA uniform supplier Adidas calls the “adizero NBA short sleeve uniform system,” have been tested in practices throughout the last year, and will make their game debut when Golden State plays San Antonio on Feb. 22.
The innovation is the culmination of a year-long partnership between the Warriors and Adidas, one that started when team co-owner Peter Guber was floored by the apparel company’s pitch in August 2011.
"It was the right moment, the right team," said Lawrence Norman, Adidas' vice president of global basketball, “and even more important, the right city. When you launch something as innovative as this, that will change the way the players look on the court and the way the fans support the team forever, why not launch it in the most innovative part of the United States?"
According to Adidas, the new sleeves are made with stretch fabric that wrap 360 degrees around the shoulder to ensure full range of motion, and the uniform tops themselves are 26 percent lighter than the current NBA jerseys. The team’s new alternate shorts have also been modernized, using stretch woven fabric containing thousands of holes to make them lighter, and overall, the uniforms are made with 60 percent recycled material.
Representatives from the Warriors and Adidas told the San Jose Mercury News that they have gotten nothing but positive feedback from the performance end, and many Golden State players can’t wait to debut the new duds.
"I think it will be a trendsetter," rookie forward Harrison Barnes said. "I think it is something it will take people a little bit of time to get used to, but once they do it'll be good. As long as I'm able to shoot and move, that's all that matters."
But what about the fan base that spends millions of dollars a year purchasing NBA apparel?
According to Warriors executive Rick Welts, who tried to get the NBA to adopt a similar jersey style when he worked for the league in the 1980s, the new uniforms were designed with fans in mind, as they will be appropriate to wear in more settings than the standard tank top-style jerseys.
"We certainly heard from a lot of basketball traditionalists that short shorts were sacrosanct to the basketball uniforms the way they should be,” said Welts, who was one of the pioneers of the NBA’s movement to longer uniform shorts as well. “I'm not foolish enough to think some won't think we're messing with tradition. But I think it's going to be really well received. Over time, I wouldn't be surprised if every team has one."
The Warriors are already among the NBA’s Top 10 teams in apparel sales, and the league agrees that it will be a benefit both commercially and aesthetically.
"It's a unique step forward for our product," said Sal LaRocca, the NBA's executive vice president of global merchandising. "There is always an ongoing directive in any company in sports apparel to continue innovating and enhancing. There have been constant developments in sports performance and teams invest millions of dollars in providing things that help players perform better."
The new gear will be available for pre-order on NBA.com and at the Warriors team store website on Monday, with authentic versions retailing for $300 and the "swingman" line of replicas running for about $110.
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES