Miami Heat MVP LeBron James has known that he was due to wear a sleeved jersey in his team’s Christmas Day game for some time now. For one, LeBron and his Heat always tend to play on the NBA’s initial broadcast station telecast day. Secondly, rumors about sleeved jerseys on Christmas have been out there since last summer. And lastly, likely around the time teams started suiting up for training camp in early autumn, LeBron took part in the filming of this commercial:
That commercial shows James and several other top-tiered stars firing away from long range in those jerseys, swishing shot after shot until LeBron, seemingly bothered by something, decides to dunk the ball. Nobody seemed to mind that the terrible sleeved jerseys were getting in the way of their shooting stroke at the taping, at least on record, but that hasn’t stopped LeBron from going candid about the jerseys in the days leading up to his team’s Christmas Day pairing against the Los Angeles Lakers.
LeBron said in pregame that the Heat's shooters "are already upset about" the Christmas jerseys.
— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) December 21, 2013
LEBRON: "I can’t have my shooters out there worrying about some sleeves and not shooting the ball.” — Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) December 21, 2013
Now, LeBron isn’t referring to himself here, he’s just talking about the Heat’s “shooters,” a group that probably includes Ray Allen, Chris Bosh, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, Rashard Lewis and Norris Cole. James may be averaging a career-best 41 percent from long range this season, while posting a ridiculous 60 percent mark from the field overall, but he’s still making a significant distinction between himself, and “my shooters.”
That said … holy cow, these things are gauche.
NBA players routinely work out and/or practice in t-shirts or even long sleeved outfits, but those are just walk-throughs. When it comes time to truly lace up, adding a bit of fabric to an NBA jersey you’ve known for too long (some 17-plus years, if you’re Ray Allen) can be a bit distracting. On top of that, these things are terrible looking, reminding of the sort of low-end NBA logo pajama tops you’d be lucky to get as a Christmas gift in the 1980s.
They’ll move the needle somewhat slightly in terms of retail, though, which is apparently enough for the NBA. They’ll make the sort of doofuses that go to Knicks or Bulls games in St. Patrick’s Day green jerseys, or go to Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees games in any manner of alternate caps, happy. That’s the NBA at this point – attempting to court those sorts of dweebs.
On their national showcase, no less. The batch of Christmas games are typically presented in order to let the rest of the sporting world, those that haven’t been paying attention to the NBA so far, know that the league is in top gear, humming along despite broadcast television’s tuner dialed in. Why the NBA would potentially mitigate the product with tangible alternate duds – just to stock a few more shelves – is beyond me.
LeBron’s squad is going to win by a ton on Wednesday, because even if Kobe Bryant were around the Lakers just aren’t that good a team. And Ray Allen can hit three-pointer after three-pointer even if he were shooting in socks. These sleeves aren’t going to get in the way of anything.
Still, is this really worth it?
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