The Nike swoosh will not be swooping in on NBA apparel until the 2017-2018 NBA season, but the league’s head honcho is already singing its praises. A year after Nike signed an eight-year deal to be the new official provider of NBA apparel, NBA commissioner Adam Silver says Nike will take the NBA to a level Adidas never did.
In his first interview with sports magazine Slam, Silver said he thinks Nike’s approach to NBA apparel will be fundamentally different than Adidas due to Silver believing that “Adidas was not endemic to basketball” and is more of a soccer company than a basketball company. “As I said, thank you to Adidas, they’ve been wonderful partners,” Silver states. “But I think Nike is ready to take it to another level.” Adidas is the top brand in soccer; it has nearly twice as many sponsorships with National soccer clubs than Nike.
Related: Nike CEO: Self-lacing shoes and body sensors coming to the NBA
The NBA commissioner’s vote of confidence in Nike stems from getting a firsthand look at the apparel brand’s dedication to making clothing high-tech. “I was out in Beaverton (Ore.) recently and they have in essence an R&D center, where they have prototypes, where they have their equivalent of mad scientists who are noodling different approaches to uniforms: new fabrics, new styles, new fits.” Silver later states he has no doubts wearables will be involved.
Adidas became the official apparel provider of the NBA in 2006 after extending its subsidiary Reebok’s deal with the NBA and replacing Reebok with itself.In March 2015, two years before the deal was set to expire, Adidas announced it would not be pursuing an extension. A year earlier, Adidas announced plans to increase sales of its soccer apparel between 2015-2020.
Adidas’ attempts at innovating NBA apparel were not always welcomed by everyone, including the biggest NBA players in the world. “Every time I shoot, it feels like it’s just pulling right up underneath my arm,” Lebron James said to reporters following a 6-for-18 shooting performance during a Miami Heat loss to the eventual NBA champion San Antonio Spurs in 2014 while wearing the new NBA jerseys with sleeves. The following year, he took his frustrations with Adidas’ jersey designs a step further by tearing off the sleeves in the middle of a nationally televised game against the New York Knicks.
With Nike planning to provide self-lacing shoe technology and body sensors to NBA apparel, Nike’s tech will be all over the league.