The Warriors were the first team to wear sleeved jerseys in a game. (Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
The sleeved, mismatched uniforms that Golden State debuted back in February made for some of the strangest in-game attire that the NBA has seen in years, but several other teams are reportedly courting that microscopic niche appeal as well. According to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com, as many as five teams may wear sleeved jerseys next season, largely in an effort to push the style more commercially. But hey, it could be worse, per Rovell's report:
All teams were offered the option to add this jersey, according to Sal LaRocca, the league's executive vice president of global merchandising, but LaRocca would not confirm exactly how many teams have committed to it.
For just five teams to reportedly commit to the style is better than it running rampant throughout the league, though to be fair we have yet to see the sleeved cut really done right. The biggest flaw in Golden State's design wasn't the sleeves, after all, but the decision to pair a solid jersey with pinstriped shorts -- a stylistic choice both bizarre and inexplicable. After playing in the sleeved jerseys back in February, the Warriors' Steph Curry lumped the jersey's aesthetic with his other postgame frustrations. From USA Today:
“You’re on national TV, NBATV [the game was not nationally televised], wearing our ugly jerseys,” said Curry, who had just eight points on 2 of 13 shooting and didn’t hit a three-pointer for the first time in 54 games. “I shouldn’t have said that [about the jerseys], but it’s just one of those things where there’s a lot of attention on us and we don’t show up to play. And we just come up short. We want to give our fans a show. We want to give them something to cheer about and make it fun for them to come to the game. When they’re leaving with six or seven minutes left, that’s not a good night.”
That Curry walked back on his comment didn't make it any less true. Those Warriors unis were at best a misguided effort at innovation, and play strangely as both in-game uniforms and consumer casual wear. They're certainly unique enough to draw attention, but would need to be executed much more effectively for the style to actually catch on. Even then, NBA players would likely still be reluctant due to the tank-top style being both classic and familiar; it's the uniform of basketball itself, and it's what these players have worn throughout their entire playing careers. I suspect many will have a similar reaction to that of Phoenix's Kendall Marshall:
It will likely take more than just a single slick design to win over the NBA player constituency, but Adidas is free to continue to push the envelope so long as they have the league's blessing.