Why do NBA Jerseys Suck Now? How the NBA Profits off Fans Each Year

3 min read

Pedro Olivas-Holguin ’25

Staff Writer

Every year since 2017, the National Basketball Association’s thirty teams unveil what they call a “City Edition” jersey. This has been spearheaded by Nike which became the official provider and seller of NBA jerseys in 2017. Year after year, the online reception to these jerseys has varied given that with so many fans and so many jerseys, opinions are bound to differ. However, year after year, there manages to be a unanimous decision online that one or a number of the designs on the jersey look awful.

The jerseys really do not matter in the sense of the game — they do not and cannot affect the score. However, we still care because we are consumers. The NBA is not simply a space for teams to play games against each other, but it is a product of entertainment for people to consume and interact with. Part of that consumption is the ability to buy a jersey of a player you like or team you support. This, so far, all makes sense but the NBA has been around for so long with this system. What changed were the introduction of the “City Jersey” system that creates a jersey beyond the traditional home and away ones. This meant an extra jersey to sell to consumers, like you and me. However, what Nike realized is that the constant rebranding that can come with a “City Edition Jersey” could probably result in more sales as fans will constantly buy the newer and different jerseys, which, to some extent, was right. But the constant repetition of creating a “different” product has clearly resulted in a creatively hollow and rushed jersey idea or concept year in and year out. Not only that, but by categorizing and understanding the jerseys to be merely a means to a profit also disconnects it from the ability to meaningfully represent the city, as there is always that ulterior motive.

This constant “reinterpretation” of jerseys also affects the product of the team as a whole as well. If the NBA is selling you the sports being played, it also sells the teams, quite literally, but also as a brand and concept to consumers to connect with. A constantly rotating assortment of jerseys disallows anyone to connect with the team on a legacy sort of level as the team brand and identity is always changing and adapting. It also just does not help if you’re wearing one of these jerseys and your friend makes fun of you because of how it looks and not the actual team. I want to talk about the teams, not the brands that they have made for themselves. Brands that shift constantly and in an ever-deteriorating way.

Sometimes they might have a good idea or another, but the NBA has only had this model for a handful of years and is already running out of creative or authentic feeling jerseys. Imagine what’s going to happen over the next ten years.

But funnily enough, it won’t matter because our consumption of the game does not affect the basketball being played, but it sure does fund it.

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