So far so bad for Nike. The NBA's official jersey sponsor is off to a rough start as the 2017-18 season marks the beginning of an eight-year deal the apparel company has with the NBA as their official apparel outfitter.
Nike's specialized, high-tech jerseys – which are crafted from “Alpha Yarns and recycled polyester” – have been repeatedly shredded in the middle of NBA games. Despite the Swoosh incorporating recycled plastic and removing excess material to allow its jerseys to dry 15 percent faster than previous Adidas iterations, rips have been a problem during the early stages of the season.
In a statement to ESPN, the company said:
“Nike has always put the athlete at the center of everything we do and we have worked hard to create the most advanced uniforms in the history of the NBA. They are lighter and deliver great mobility and sweat-wicking characteristics, and the feedback from players has been overwhelmingly positive. However, during game play we have seen a small number of athletes experience significant jersey tears. We are very concerned to see any game day tear and are working to implement a solution that involves standardizing the embellishment process and enhancing the seam strength of game day jerseys. The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance and we are working with the NBA and teams to avoid this happening in the future.”
Here's a timeline of some of the incidents of these ripped jerseys:
October 1st – Tyler Ennis’ jersey tears in a preseason game against the Timberwolves.
October 18th – In the NBA season opener LeBron James’ jersey splits down the back after contact from Boston’s Jaylen Brown.
October 19th – ESPN reports that Nike is investigating why NBA jerseys are becoming damaged so often.
October 20th – Nike issues a statement on its jerseys: “We are obviously very concerned to see any game day jersey tear and are working with the NBA and teams to avoid this happening in the future.”
October 27th – Draymond Green is involved in a scuffle with Washington’s Bradley Beal. His jersey does not survive.
November 3rd – The 76ers’ Ben Simmons jersey tore when tugged during a battle for a rebound.
Despite the on-court problems, there have not been any complaints from consumers who have purchased the jerseys. That factor has minimized the business impact of the mistake.