While the trade is not yet official, it now appears clear that Andrew Wiggins, the top pick in the NBA draft, will never play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. His greatest contribution to the franchise figures to be as the key trade piece that helped turn the Cavs — led by LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving — into the favorites to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy next June. He will forever hold a place in Cleveland sports history, although likely not in the way he planned when he donned a Cavaliers hat in Brooklyn just six weeks ago.
Cavaliers fans are understandably excited at the prospect of adding Love to the roster by the end of the month, but it's also true that they were once very excited to watch Wiggins in wine and gold. Enough so, in fact, to buy a lot of jerseys before and after the re-addition of LeBron. Now, with Wiggins on his way out, those jerseys are either collector's items or useless articles of clothing with no connection to the buyers' favorite team.
Those fans who no longer desire the jerseys are in luck. According to ESPN's Darren Rovell, Wiggins jerseys purchased from the NBA Store can be returned for a full refund, even if they've been worn:
A spokesman for Fanatics, which also services the NBA's online store, said Thursday that the company – which specializes in on-demand customization – actually never made the No. 21 Wiggins Cavs jerseys that fans ordered from the sites.
Last week, the Fanatics and NBA store sites showed that the Wiggins jersey was "discontinued," meaning those who wanted to buy one had to custom order it. Raivich said those jerseys were made and shipped, as were any authentic jerseys that were purchased.
But the majority of people buy the more affordable replica jerseys. Some might be disappointed that they won't have a collector's item, but they likely won't be disappointed that they'll get a full refund and won't have to pay for shipping.
The standard return policy is normally 60 days and the item has to be in pristine condition with the tags still attached. However, customers who actually received [the custom] Wiggins jerseys will be able to return them in worn condition without the tags.
Rovell had initially tweeted that refunds would be issued only if tags were still attached, which would have been in keeping with the NBA Store's standard return policy of issuing refunds (minus $5.50 return shipping) within 60 days of purchase. Making it possible for fans to return jerseys regardless of condition, however, is a special dispensation of some note. I guess the NBA would prefer fans to wear jerseys that promote a product that actually exists rather than a reality that never came to pass.
Despite this special offer, it would not be a terrible surprise if some fans opted to keep the jerseys. Donning an NBA jersey is largely a matter of supporting a team, but it's also a statement of personal taste, a sign that the wearer has considered every available option and opted to wear a particular item that communicates a refined take on the sport. A Cavs Wiggins jersey would show that the fan was on board before the bandwagon-jumpers decided to support a LeBron- and Love-led championship contender. For that matter, it's a now a neat bit of basketball history, almost like an instant retro jersey.
The NBA has not yet issued any information regarding refunds on Cavaliers products featuring the name of Anthony Bennett, the 2013 first overall pick reportedly heading to the Wolves in the same trade. Of course, if that option didn't come during Bennett's historically disappointing rookie season, it's probably not going to happen now.
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