On Wednesday December 2, the Cleveland Cavaliers played the Phoenix Suns at home. It was the night that Zydrunas Ilgauskas broke the franchise record for games played, but it was also the night that the Cavs decided that they’d reveal their 47th different alternate jersey in the past five years (I kid, of course–it’s only been seven alternates, and that’s not including the primary uniform changes in 2003, which would technically make nine–P.S.: look out for another alternate this year, too–shhhhhhhhhhhh…). Going back to those great years of 1987, ’88 and ’89 (when gangsta rap was becoming a phenomenon, Al B. Sure’s “Nite & Day” was a radio smash and made him a phenom, and when Michael Jordan was handing the Cavs their butts back to them [enter sad face here]), Cleveland has used the original road version of the blue away jerseys as their occasional throwback duds (the second incarnation of the road blues said “CLEVELAND”)–and they are wonderful.
These new retro threads are just excellent for a number of reasons, one being that with there being 82 games in a regular NBA season, I personally get tired of seeing the same old stuff, visually, no matter how good the team is. This is probably going to seem silly or even a bit superficial as a fan, but I’ve been known to turn games off on the TV, because I literally get sick of seeing some teams play in the same apparel over and over, especially the teams that come on all the time like the Boston Celtics or San Antonio Spurs. Understand, I don’t really enjoy watching Boston play, so that’s a part of it, but their kelly green and white is boring every year when they’re on for at least 20 games a year; with the Spurs, I actually like watching them, but I take my own TV timeouts with them, so for the Cavaliers to keep it fresh is always nice (especially considering that they already have very well-designed primary game unis as it is).
Another good thing about the new retros is that they go great with the new footwear that’s been coming out. Nike is really doing a great job of matching up to NBA uniforms. LeBron James’ new Air Max LeBron VIIs in the player exclusive blue/white/orange (check the pic) is already an instant classic of sneakers. That Z and other Cavs were wearing LeBron’s old playoff Zoom Soldier IIIs in the same white/blue is another great look, so we can thank Fabolous, Mitchell & Ness, and really, the NBA’s idea to use retro jerseys back in the “NBA At 50″ anniversary season in ’96-97. (Remember Allen Iverson’s rookie season in the old “PHILA” jersey with the gold NBA logo embroidery? The Toronto Raptors’ “Huskies” uniforms?)
One other positive about the Cavaliers’ late-80s apparel extravaganza is that the uniforms themselves are improved from a technology standpoint. As recently as the mid-90s, NBA teams were wearing Champion’s excellently built game wear for the court, and it was all heavyweight open-hole mesh. That may seem fairly unimportant, but the truth about the mesh says a lot about how it performs. If you’ve ever worn an authentic game jersey, let’s say it’s an authentic home Dallas Mavericks Jimmy Jackson jersey (who I’ve adored since watching basketball in 1993), you’ll literally feel the weight of the body of the jersey. It seems indestructible, not only because the mesh is strong, but the stitching of the numbers and team names are tackle twill and often layered, which is significant if your entire uniforms soaked with sweat (even the collar and armholes are weighty).
Well, in the case of the Cavs, the new incarnations of the old design use a closed-hole mesh, which makes the color of the uniform *pop*–did you see how vivid the color of those threads were? Closed-hole mesh holds color better, and it’s the same reason why the New York Knicks switched to closed-hole unis this year, because the color held up to the repeated washings. Since Nike took over for about a third of the league’s uniforms in 1997-ish, their patented Dri-Fit technology enabled the meshes on many of their uniforms to be much thinner and lighter as a result. The Cavs ’87 alternate is made by the league’s current uniform supplier, adidas, who employs a version of Nike’s moisture-wicking technology in the game uniforms called “ClimaLite”, which also enables for lighter material. So when LeBron was busy taking off toward the basket and raising up for jumpers, the lighter material wasn’t keeping his sweat on him, thus keeping him a tad lighter and more refreshed…and who doesn’t like bright blue jerseys, huh? Am I right?!? (Thought so.)
Just as well are Nike’s plans to release the second version of their Hyperdunk sneaker, which is called the Nike Hyperdunk 2010. Taking what was so great about the previous Hyperdunk and altering the design, the new Hyperdunk appears to be a more supportive, cushier update and continues with the Hyperize to be the advanced fulfillment of the Air Huarache line.
The Nike Hyperdunk 2010 returns with the Flywire technology and the Dynamic Innersleeve for full foot-body comfort. The famous floating heel counter returns as well for heel lockdown. The midsole returns in a new two-tiered design, which differs from the previous model’s more traditional sculpting, as the new midsole appears to act both a semi-cupsole and cushioning platform (borrowing from the Nike Huarache 09); it is made of Phylon encasing a full-length Zoom Air unit, which also differs from the Cushlon/Zoom Air & LunarLite set-up that many were on the fence about on in the first Hyperdunk. In this way, there is bonafide support and bring-back cushioning that might have been somewhat lacking with the LunarLite. Complete with a rubber outsole with herringbone traction, the pivot point and flex grooves, the new Hyperdunk 2010 may be even better suited for on-court action.
Expect a $110 price tag sometime in the first or second quarter of 2010 (and much thanks to Andrew for continued exclusive briefings on the upcoming releases!).
Sandy Dover is a novelist/writer, artist and fitness enthusiast, as well as an unrepentant Prince fan (for real). You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline, as well as at Associated Content and Twitter.