The New NBA All-Star Uniform

by February 17, 2011

by Kyle Stack / @KyleStack

NBA players have been wearing technologically advanced jerseys from adidas all season long, but this weekend’s All-Stars have the choice of testing a possible jersey of the future. And they’ll wear warmups which have a formal look not seen often in sports.

What the form-fitting jerseys offer players is scientific evidence, provided by adidas, that shows players can jump higher, produce more powerful movements and have greater endurance.

As the NBA’s official uniform and apparel provider, adidas has made it a priority to provide NBA players with jerseys that can help improve their performance. That effort was highlighted at the beginning of the ‘10-11 NBA season with the Revolution 30 jerseys, which are 30 percent lighter and dry twice as fast as jerseys NBA players had previously worn.

Yet adidas found that the All-Star Game provided a platform upon which they can introduce the TECHFIT line, which adidas claims can improve a player’s vertical leap by 4.3 percent, on average, and increase a player’s power output by 5.3 percent, according to studies they’ve performed on athletes, including active NBA players. (Those increases are achieved by players wearing the jersey and shorts.)

“It’s not only increasing verticals but it gives a quicker first step,” said Travis Blasingame, Basketball Apparel Global Business Unit Director for adidas. He explained how the jersey works to do that.

The jersey features a PowerWeb layer which has Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) powerbands surrounding key parts of the body, such as the core. As a player tightens his body to make an explosive movement, the TPU bands stretch, sort of like a rubber band. When the player initiates the movement, the muscle release he experiences will quicken, simulating a spring-like effect.

“The idea is you’re taking energy and you’re boosting energy,” Blasingame noted. “If you’re in an athletic posture, you’re going to be more powerful, quicker.”

He explained that the PowerWeb system has other benefits: The compression fit induces players to set up in an athletic position more consistently than in other uniforms; it increases blood circulation, which raises oxygen levels in the bloodstream that spike an athlete’s endurance; and a tighter fit that means there is less available uniform material for defenders to grab in an attempt to slow down their opponent.

Less material also means TECHFIT is lighter than even the Revolution 30 jerseys. According to adidas, a TECHFIT XLT jersey — the size Derrick Rose wears — weighs 5.6 ounces; a Rev 30 jersey of the same size weighs 9.2 ounces, which makes TECHFIT 39.1 percent lighter.

Players will have the choice of sticking with their Revolution 30 jerseys or wearing the TECHFIT option. Blasingame said some players could opt to wear the TECHFIT top underneath their Rev 30 jersey. Even with TECHFIT’s perceived benefits, adidas told SLAMonline no player has guaranteed he will wear the TECHFIT jersey on Sunday.

Promotional pictures of Rose and Dwight Howard in the uniform show a much tighter fit than seen with the Rev 30 jerseys. Not all players have warmed to that, according to Blasingame. Yet during the fitting process for Rev 30 jerseys last summer, Blasingame said some players were made aware how much baggier of a fit they wore than what was necessary. One example of that is Brandon Roy, who was sized down two sizes from what he wore last season.

As with past jerseys, the design on the TECHFIT and Revolution 30 models is representative of the city in which the game will be played. The typeface across the uniforms is inspired by the Hollywood sign, perhaps L.A.’s most recognizable architectural feature. The East and West team name on each jersey is emblazoned with an image of the L.A. skyline. The uniforms are even coated with a diamond pattern that reflects when targeted by arena lights, in order to celebrate the diamond anniversary (60th game) of the NBA All-Star Game.

The City of Angels is also represented by the warmups all players will wear before the game and during halftime. The nearly all-black duds were inspired by L.A.’s ritzy Hollywood lifestyle. “When you break the jacket apart, it looks like a tailored three-piece suit,” Blasingame said, pointing out the three button snaps on the jacket cuffs and an internal pocket in the jacket.

Each team’s specified All-Star colors is represented on the jacket — blue with silver trim and accent for the East, red with gold trim and accent for the West. Yet the black warmups each team will wear speaks to the dress style of Hollywood’s infamous movie premieres and awards show events. “Everything about the jacket pays homage to that black tie look,” Blasingame said.

The warmups will grab the attention at first, but the focus is still on the jerseys. Adidas announced its Route 2015 last November, which is a company-wide effort to growing the entire adidas Group by 45 to 50 percent to € 17 billion, or $23 million, by 2015. Its US Generation 2015 plan is critical to reaching that goal.

Adidas has estimated that the 16.3 million high school students in the US account for $16.1 billion in retail spending, and that they account for 80 percent more spending on retail than college students. They have identified basketball as the primary sport through which to target high schoolers, seven million of whom are in a high school athletic program.

Blasingame explained that the benefit of adidas using technology such as TECHFIT, which won’t be immediately available in retail, is to form an identity with consumers as a technologically progressive brand.

The TPU powerbands integrated into the All-Star Game jerseys were actually used by Spain and Argentina during last summer’s World Cup in South Africa. “If you weren’t in the ‘know,’ you probably didn’t realize they were playing in TECHFIT jerseys,” Blasingame said.

Adidas hasn’t been so coy this time around. They want fans to know NBA players might be rocking the latest in performance gear. They won’t force it on the players, so it’s up to each guy to determine what he’s comfortable with. We won’t know the answer to that until Sunday.

Images provided by adidas.