Sat Jun 12 06:40pm EDT
When the United States men's national basketball team heads to Turkey for the FIBA World Championships this summer, it's going to look pretty cool. It's hard to mess up red, white and blue, and the various manufacturers who have supplied its uniforms throughout the years haven't made very many missteps. But this year, it's also going to feel cool thanks to a couple tweaks by Nike.
Through some kind of clothing wizardry, Nike has eliminated more than 13 inches of fabric from a typical basketball jersey, and probably double that when compared to Allan Houston's(notes) tarp-like mid-90s shirt. The back of the jersey will once again feature "Aerographics," which you probably know as those intricately designed perforations that make it look like everyone has a super sweaty back like Patrick Ewing. And yes, that's two zings on the New York Knicks, who have been the antithesis of on-court aesthetics for two decades running. Make that three.
Aside from the extra tailoring, the jerseys are about the same. The shorts are the big story, as far as international basketball clothing news goes. Thanks to Nike's new Hyperelite design, the shorts are about half as light as a normal basketball short when dry. Get them wet — like, you know, from sweating during a game — and they're even better, weighing less when soaked (10.1 oz.) than a normal pair does when dry (13.6). I got a chance to play in a pair on Thursday, and if you imagine a paper-thin pair of swim trunks with a bunch of pencil eraser-sized holes on the sides, you get the idea, and you understand how they're so light. Mine were also enormous, falling a solid three inches below my kneecap. Yi Jianlian(notes) and Kevin Durant(notes) didn't seem to have that problem, possibly because they're a half-foot taller than me.
According to national team member Durant, the little changes to the kit "add a couple inches to your vertical." That's unlikely, but if you feel like you can jump higher, that's an advantage in your mind. Everyone knows that mind advantages are the best kind.
The new uniforms will make their debut at this summer's World Basketball Festival in New York City, where Team USA will be joined by China, Brazil, Puerto Rico and France who will also being wearing the Hyperelite getups. The USA jerseys aren't anything special to me, but I like the shorts. There's not really anything too ground-breaking about the looks of either part of the uniform, but simple and effective is way better than trendy and silly. Right, 2009 rookies?
A couple shots of all the new international jerseys after the jump.
USA, Puerto Rico, Brazil.
China, France, USA.
Let's hear what you think in the comments. Or else.