LeBron James' jersey ripped in half, and Nike has a problem to solve

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/3704/" data-ylk="slk:LeBron James">LeBron James</a>’ new Nike jersey didn’t even make it through his first game.
LeBron James’ new Nike jersey didn’t even make it through his first game.

It appears Nike has a problem on its back. For at least the third time in three weeks since the start of training camp, one of the company’s brand new NBA jerseys has ripped during the normal course of game action, and this time it was the face of Nike in the first game of the entire season on national TV.

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Late in the fourth quarter of a close game, Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown grabbed a handful of Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James’ jersey as the two battled for position in the post, and LeBron’s new Nike jersey ripped significantly between the numbers on the back below his name:

This comes after Minnesota Timberwolves guard Aaron Brooks tore almost the entire back of Los Angeles Lakers counterpart Tyler Ennis’ Nike jersey off during the preseason opener for both teams:

A few days later, the Denver Nuggets turned the ripped Nike jerseys into a trend, pointing out on Twitter that Nikola Jokic’s collar ripped against the Lakers in the second game of the preseason:

The NBA ended a decade-long jersey partnership with Adidas when Nike more than doubled the previous sponsorship deal earlier this year, paying an estimated $125 million annually to rebrand the league’s jerseys. NBA and Nike made a spectacle of unveiling the new jersey designs for all 30 teams at an event in New York in mid-September. Now, just over a month later, it’s clear they are flawed.

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It didn’t help that NBA on TNT broadcaster Reggie Miller made sure to mention the company by name when telling a massive audience tuning in for the season debut between James and former teammate (and fellow Nike athlete) Kyrie Irving, “That’s the second time I’ve seen one of these Nike jerseys rip.”

While an Adidas jersey somewhere has surely ripped over the last half-decade, it’s hard to remember a specific instance during the normal course of NBA game action. It certainly wasn’t what they were known for. In fact, the most iconic moment involving a ripped Adidas jersey was probably when James struggled mightily to tear the horrible sleeved shirsey from his arm at the start of the 2015-16 season:

If Nike wants to avoid their new jerseys becoming a running joke throughout the season, the company better do something quickly about these tearaway designs, and that’s no small undertaking, given the level of marketing that’s gone into these and the number of jerseys they’ve surely sold to consumers.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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