The new holiday duds, which are of the sleeved variety, will be worn by the Heat on Dec. 25 when they travel to Hollywood for a showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron James has expressed his frustration with the uniforms in an apparent show of support for Miami's perimeter marksmen.
Per Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald:
LeBron said in pregame that the Heat's shooters "are already upset about" the Christmas jerseys.— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) December 21, 2013
LEBRON: "I can’t have my shooters out there worrying about some sleeves and not shooting the ball.”— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) December 21, 2013
James' teammates such as Ray Allen, Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers and Chris Bosh have yet to publicly comment on the sleeved movement. The NBA insists the jerseys do not impact range of motion and detailed its stance in an email to Bleacher Report:
While some of the promotional photos may depict the jerseys as tight ... – just like with the tank top jerseys – players select their size and will wear what’s most comfortable for them oncourt. The league would never want players to feel restricted or allow for a jersey design that hinders their performance or makes them play at any less than 100%. I think we can agree that there is no way the NBA would ever put a player in something that would negatively impact his performance or ability to play at the highest level.
Multiple teams have played in short sleeves this season already and there have not been any complaints in terms of performance level. If Chris Paul scored 47 points wearing the Clippers short-sleeve jersey, then it's safe to say the jerseys don't inhibit a player's ability.
Heat Christmas Day Jersey pic.twitter.com/9arDALmLiy— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) November 14, 2013
This is the second year in a row that the NBA has chosen to roll out jerseys with unique designs for the big slate of Christmas Day games. Last year's editions flaunted a monochromatic color scheme; the Heat donned strictly red uniforms in a six-point victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Christmas Day last season.
In addition, ESPN's Uni Watch noted that the sleeved jersey revolution may just be getting underway, which would be bad news for James and opponents of the new craze:
Although several teams have been experimenting with sleeved alternate jerseys, the sleeves on those jerseys have been blank—no numbers, no stripes, no patches, no patterns. These new designs, with the numbers on the sleeves, may indicate that the league and adidas are planning to turn sleeves into a significant uniform design element.
The good news for the Heat is that they have history on their side when it comes to playing the Lakers with James in the fold.
Since joining Miami in 2010, James has gone 5-1 against the Lakers, including a 96-80 victory in L.A. on Christmas Day in 2010.