Yesterday’s Golden State Warriors championship parade was the last time we will see Adidas produce official NBA merchandise. Next season, Nike takes over the NBA as the league’s official outfitter and I couldn’t be happier. (Although I am saddened by the manufacturer’s logo now appearing on the jersey and sleeves next season.)
Adidas took over as the NBA’s official outfitter in 2006, taking over Reebok. In that time, Adidas made some significant changes to the uniform, sideline wear and fabric designs for the league. Overall, the Adidas experiment in the NBA was a failure. Aside from lighter fabric for uniforms, the company did not really provide any great memorable, lasting impressions on the league.
The first change Adidas made was the Revolution 30. This was a template for all team jerseys in which the stitching and mesh fabrics of the jersey were all the same for every team. This meant that teams that featured a shinier material were forced to go to a dull flat color. You can tell difference between Derrick Rose’s rookie year jersey (under Reebok) and what Adidas put out.
Adidas was not able to produce certain design elements to jersey designs, such as the Grizzlies’ original numbers (then vs now) and the Warriors’ throwbacks (then vs now). The company did not go away from their set design template to produce consistent looks for some teams.
That transitioned into very generic, three-stripes-forced summer league and sideline gear. Even All-Star Game uniforms were victims. I understand that three stripes is what Adidas is known for, but there is something about forcing that design element onto every single product. Remember Paul Pierce’s celebration after winning the NBA Finals? That iconic moment was sullied by the Adidas three stripes being forced onto the championship cap. The Adidas hubris cost them a potential opportunity for great design.
This problem ultimately led to the company’s worst offense: sleeves.
There is no redeeming element from this. They look awful. Players complained about it. It was a shame that the Cavaliers insisted on wearing their lucky sleeve jerseys throughout the NBA Finals.
Even though Adidas isn’t awful all the time, they struggled throughout their time with the NBA. Instead of providing positive, inventive elements to the NBA, they gave us poor designs that we are happy to see go away. It was clear towards the end of their tenure, they mailed it in with their designs.
I am looking forward to what Nike can bring. They don’t have this agenda of forcing their design elements like Adidas did with three stripes. Also, the sleeves will not be returning. This isn’t to say that Nike is going to be immune from mistakes but at least the prospect of what Nike can bring will be way better than what Adidas ever did.
The parade yesterday was the final time we would see Adidas on any official NBA merchandise. The 2016-17 season is over. Now we see what Nike can do.
Good riddance, Adidas. I won’t miss you.