What’s one way to get the NBA tweeters squawking? With players donning Christmas Day jerseys!
The league threw a new wrinkle into holiday attire this season, introducing sleeved jerseys that look decidedly old-fashioned—somewhere between pajamas and vintage bathing suits. The 10 teams that played on Wednesday were gifted with large team logos on the chest and numbers on the sleeves.
Said sleeves resulted in a barrage of Twitter opinions.
Udrih: "Personally [the short-sleeved jersey] bothered me & my shot. On a normal shot Im used 2 getting my shoulder & elbow up [unhindered]"— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) December 26, 2013
There’s also the small matter of how the extra cloth material reacts to a human phenomenon known as sweating.
Battier said that when the shirts got wet, they got heavy. The NBA should end this experiment.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) December 26, 2013
There’s always two sides to any epic controversy. The aesthetics of the holiday fabric found some modest (if practical) expressions of support from those in the basketball know.
Nice of the NBA to put the Christ back in Christmas by making jerseys that look affordable even to the Cratchits.— Paul Shirley (@paulthenshirley) December 25, 2013
And then, there were those that found the whole thing abhorrent.
Say what you want about the Christmas jerseys, but they sure have disgusted everyone on this holy religious day.— Dexter Fishmore (@dexterfishmore) December 25, 2013
Meanwhile, the biggest name in basketball was starting to get all sorts of worked up, as the Miami Heat were paying a visit to the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day. First, there’s the aggravation of being the back-to-back world champs and having to travel for the holidays. And then, sleeved jerseys?
LeBron didn't like jerseys: "It was definitely a different feeling." Felt a tug. Says he would wear bigger one next time.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) December 26, 2013
LeBron James wasn’t done yet. Not by a long shot. It wasn't just him that was being affected. He was concerned about the other guys on his team as well. I mean, c'mon now!
LeBron said in pregame that the Heat's shooters "are already upset about" the Christmas jerseys.— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) December 21, 2013
NBA uniforms are manufactured by Adidas, using an innovative blend of lightweight breathable materials. By now, King James had worked himself up into a highly worrisome state of wondering how others might worry.
LEBRON: "I can’t have my shooters out there worrying about some sleeves and not shooting the ball.”— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) December 21, 2013
Bleacher Report's Alec Nathan recently looked into the matter of James’ jersey discontent in greater detail:
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.
By Christmas Day in the Lakers’ locker room, the negative sentiment was spreading like wildfire. Nick "Swaggy P" Young is an admirer of a variety of blended synthetics when it comes to fashion attire. He wasn’t thrilled about the Christmas jerseys, though.
Nick Young is pantomiming jump shots in the locker room wearing the sleeved jersey: "They're trying to set me up for failure"— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 25, 2013
It's quite possible that the concern on the Lakers side had traveled higher up the ladder than Mr. Young. Like, much higher. Maybe a certain somebody in L.A. found a different way of dealing with the fabric threat.
New working theory: Kobe hurt himself intentionally to avoid having to wear these uniforms. BK— Kamenetzky Brothers (@KamBrothers) December 25, 2013
Ultimately, all the apprehension was for naught. The Swaggy one wound up shooting 4-of-7 from downtown, scoring 20 points overall. There was apparently no jersey failure.
Meanwhile, the Heat won what turned out to be a pretty entertaining game, 101-95. It wasn’t all that bad, LeBron! Your team won in spite of the dreaded extra material and the fans probably enjoyed looking at those big, bright, shiny insignias.
All’s well that ends well.