Adidas has teamed up with the Golden State Warriors to bring the t-shirt style to basketball. It's a short-sleeve, form-fitting design, one that evokes a sense of soccer aesthetic.
I asked Lawrence Norman, vice president of Adidas Global Basketball, about the soccer similarities, to which he replied, "The NBA is one of the only leagues that is still playing in a tank top. When you look at our leadership position globally in soccer, I think that's a compliment."
Warriors coach Mark Jackson was enthusiastic about the jerseys, saying, "Once we got a chance to practice in it, to defend in it, the guys were raving about it. So that really put a stamp of approval on it."
The Warriors players had mostly positive things to say about the new uniforms, which makes sense considering ownership's involvement in the rollout. Some took more of a canvassing approach:
Black falcon sporting the new unis. What do y'all think? instagr.am/p/VnAcf0r7v4/— Festus Ezeli (@fezzyfel) February 11, 2013
The uniforms look quite snug. There may be reason to believe that they'll flatter some figures while leaving others open to some more lampooning.
@sherwoodstrauss Regarding Warriors most and those new uniforms please don't ever pick up Big baby as a free-agent— Gary Harmer (@Widowwolf) February 12, 2013
Harrison Barnes has been the face of the Adidas pitch, and Norman recounted that Barnes had shown up in a suit for their meeting on the uniforms, indicating to Norman that "style is very important" to Harrison. In the press conference for the unveiling, Barnes noted that teammates often practiced in regular short-sleeve shirts and that these uniforms differed from those shirts in how sweat doesn't doesn't weigh the newer fabric down.
What we're seeing in this unveiling is two simultaneous bets on the future. Adidas is betting that these shirts will change basketball style and that fans will pay big money for an innovation. The Warriors and Adidas are also betting that Harrison Barnes is the future.
Both bets are risky, though you can see the wisdom in the approach.
Harrison Barnes has had a mixed bag of a rookie season, but he's also created some of the best highlights in said season. His game is something of a flashy, exciting mystery, and it's hard to peg how it will all work out.
The same can be said for this jersey design. It's flashy, eye-catching, but we're not really sure if it will change the game itself.
Warriors owner Joe Lacob wants his team to represent the innovation inherent in Lacob's Silicon Valley. The team is moving to San Francisco, and experimenting with new forms of media communication. (For the Warriors, "media day" is "Tweedia day," as in Twitter.)
It remains to be seen whether the boldness is folly. But at least the Dubs are trying something new.