Hey, do you like "breakthrough innovation?" How about tight short-sleeved shirts? If you answered "yes" to both, then the Golden State Warriors and adidas have a treat for you. Show 'em, Harrison Barnes:
That right there is a new jersey that adidas has developed and that the Warriors will wear on Friday, Feb. 22, when they take on the San Antonio Spurs in a nationally televised game on ESPN. It has sleeves, which is different.
The team and the NBA's official apparel provider have a joint announcement/unveiling press conference scheduled for Monday at 5 p.m. Eastern/2 p.m. Pacific that will be streamed on Golden State's official website, but Warriors beat man Marcus Thompson II of the San Jose Mercury News already has the scoop on the unis, which the Warriors will reportedly also wear during a March 8 contest against the Houston Rockets and one week later, on March 15, against the Chicago Bulls.
As Thompson tells it, adidas reportedly first pitched the short-sleeved jerseys to the Warriors in August 2011 and hopes they'll be a "growing trend" in uniforms and merchandising:
The new jersey is much less a T-shirt than the next phase in the evolution of basketball apparel.
It's being called the "adizero NBA short sleeve uniform system." And Adidas boasts it as a revolutionary marriage between performance and aesthetics.
The uniforms are 26 percent lighter than their traditional counterparts, which Adidas said its research revealed was most important to players. They come with the ever-popular moisture-absorbing feature. The sleeves are made with stretch fabric that wraps 360 degrees around the shoulder to ensure full range of motion, because anyone who has played basketball knows how a T-shirt's sleeve can interfere with a jumper.
The shorts — which have pinstripes inspired by the Bay Bridge — have been modernized, too. The stretch woven fabric, pricked with thousands of holes, make the bottoms as lightweight and airy as ever.
From a player's perspective, how the new jerseys and shorts feel on the court would seem to be of paramount importance; on that score, according to Thompson, representatives from adidas (which had multiple several players test them out over the summer) and the Warriors (who've gone through full practices in the alternates) say the feedback's been uniformly positive. For his part, jersey model Barnes said he's "able to shoot and move" in them and that players will like the new unis once they "take [...] a little it of time to get used to" them.
Given the explosion in recent years of accessories like compression shorts, undershirts and arm sleeves, that might not be as hard a sell for players as it would have been in years past; then again, not all players might be thrilled at being required to wear something as, um, form-fitting as what Barnes is shown rocking in the promo pictures.
For every carved-from-granite specimen in an NBA locker room, there's at least one or two guys who — while in amazing shape, especially compared to the rest of us schlubs — aren't quite as cut, and they might not love the idea of running out in front of 18,000 people every night, plus millions watching at home in HD, in something that clings to every not-quite-as-cut spot. Comparisons made by folks like Warriors president Rick Welts to the T-shirt that Patrick Ewing used to wear under his Georgetown uniform in the 1980s don't really hold up; this is all one piece, tight to the skin of the shoulders, chest and biceps, that looks like it shows off everything, which could weird some players out. (Also, a lot of guys will probably need more than just Barnes' testimonial to convince them that the sleeves won't restrict their range of motion on stuff like jumpers and raising up for rebounds.)
As a result, and as you might expect, Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Marc J. Spears reports that not everybody seems to be totally in love with the new togs:
Adidas has been getting mixed reactions from its NBA players about the short sleeve jerseys.
— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) February 11, 2013
Non-Warriors feeling trepidation needn't worry just yet — Golden State will be the only team to rock the new gear this season, according to Spears, but others will likely follow next season. Several college teams with adidas deals will wear the short-sleeved compression jerseys this year, Spears also reports, with Indiana, Louisville, UCLA, Kansas and Baylor among possible models. If players on those teams report feeling faster, quicker and not at all restricted, you'd figure that'd go a long way toward helping dispel some of the concern among reticent pros.
What's kind of weird, though, is that adidas saying that the jersey "was designed with the fan in mind," according to Thompson:
The rationale is having a full shirt as the team's jersey allows people to represent their team in more settings. Unlike soccer, baseball and football, basketball uniforms are limited, from a fashion perspective, because they are sleeveless.
The "swingman" jerseys will run about $110, about $40 more than the traditional replicas. The authentic versions will be $300. Both will be available for pre-order at NBA.com and warriorsteamstore.com starting Monday.
On one hand, it makes sense that fans who aren't necessarily comfortable showing off their arms in a standard tank-top-style jersey might be more likely to dig (and buy) a sleeved option. On the other, though, if the consumer versions of these shirts run as skin-tight as the version Barnes is displaying, it would seem to stand to reason that those same "don't want to call attention to my matronly upper arms and other matronly areas" fans would be similarly uncomfortable with this option and continue to opt for stuff like, oh, I don't know, a jersey T-shirt that runs them significantly less than $110 or $300. I guess adidas and the Warriors are looking to really tap into the underserved super-jacked-guys market; I wish them the best of luck in this endeavor, although I do kind of wish that they'd also made a regular, not skin-tight, not sleeveless, all-gold Warriors alternate jersey, too. That seems like it'd look really good and not as awkward.
Let's take a closer look at Harrison Barnes' right shoulder:
And here's young Mr. Barnes in flight in his new getup: