In 2015, the NBA and Nike announced that they had signed an eight-year deal that would make Nike the official apparel company of the NBA beginning in the 2017-18 season. They replaced Adidas who had been partnered with the NBA since 2006. Over that year-and-a-half between the deal and Nike becoming the official supplier, there were plenty of rumors about how different the uniforms would be beginning this season. Nike would not only want to make their own brand across the NBA, but they also would add a little to what already existed as well.
For some teams, the uniform sets remained similar to previous years. The same cannot be said for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The wine and gold got a complete overhaul of their apparel, including their Association (white) jersey, Icon (wine) jersey, and Statement (black) jersey.
While many teams were like the Cavs in terms of completely re-doing their jerseys, Nike also decided to add a fourth, City Edition, jersey to the mix for 26 of the 30 teams in the NBA as well, a jersey that was completely new—and different—from what the teams have had before. Nike officially unveiled the jerseys on Tuesday and the announcement was followed by plenty of opinions— good and bad.
For the Cavs, the jersey was met with mixed emotions. Some fans weren’t fond of them; some fans liked them. The biggest difference between the City Edition jersey and what the wine and gold have already are the colors. While there is a little gold/yellow in the jerseys, much of the jersey is gray and black, two colors that aren’t too much of a factor when previously talking about the Cavs. It almost looks like the jerseys belong to a basketball team in Pittsburgh, whose city’s professional sports teams—Steelers, Penguins, Pirates—all are donned in black and yellow.
While Nike designed it in the end, Cavs star LeBron James admitted that he had plenty of input in the new uniform. The King also mentioned that fans will like the jersey once they see them on the players.
“They’re phenomenal,” James said prior to Wednesday night’s loss to the Sacramento Kings. “I was happy to be a part of it. I love the color scheme. I love the Ohio crest on the front of the shorts. I love the color combination of the gray with the gold and the outline in navy. They allowed us to do a lot with it, so it was fun. It was a fun procedure.”
To say the Cavs front office was excited about the release would be an understatement.
“There is a cool new vibe about Cleveland and with the design of the City Edition we wanted to make a bold statement about who we are today – a united community that is proud of ‘The Land,’ protective of our place in the universe and committed to defending our home court together,” Cavaliers Chief Marketing Officer Tracy Marek said of the fourth jersey. “We couldn’t be more excited about introducing this new uniform concept to everyone who stands by Cleveland and the Cleveland Cavaliers.”
Let’s take a look:
While the colors Nike chose may be a little questionable, the design and little things they incorporated in the jersey are awesome.
- While some may not like the fact that many now call Cleveland “The Land”, it is what it is, and Nike putting that on the front of the jersey is sweet.
- Incorporating the “Guardians of Transportation” on the Memorial Bridge into the jersey is something so little, but yet so unique for the city.
- The state of Ohio on the front of the shorts and state flag on the bottom of them won’t really be seen during games, but it’s a neat little addition.
- That “1” inside the Larry O’Brien trophy on the back-center collar looks so good, and is just another reminder that the Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead and the Cavs won the title on June 19, 2016.
- Much like the state of Ohio and the state flag, the “Defend” on the bottom of the jersey may not be seen much, but it’s still a cool addition. One of the few Cavs’ slogans will always be Defend The Land.
Here’s Nike’s statement about the Cavs’ jersey following the announcement:
The Cleveland Cavaliers represent what hard work can achieve. Inspired by the pride and spirit of an entire community, the team is united by an all-for-one-and-one-for-all attitude to protect and “Defend The Land” and its home court together.
For more than 75 years, the iconic giant “Guardians of Transportation” sandstone sculptures have stood guard over Cleveland’s Hope Memorial Bridge to protect travelers entering and leaving the city. The side panels of the Cavaliers City Edition uniform represent the Guardians but with a team-specific twist: The Cavs shield logo is inset as the head of each sculpture. Further graphic inspiration from the Guardians’ robes and a belt buckle featuring the silhouette of the state of Ohio symbolize the team’s stature as a regional protector. If those features aren’t clear enough, “The Land” is emblazoned across the chest to offer direct tribute to the entire Northeast Ohio area.
While the wine and gold should have been incorporated much more into the City Edition jersey, the difference and uniqueness can’t be forgotten. It’s not like the Cavs will make this jersey their primary one. In case you want to see the other 25 City Edition jerseys throughout the NBA, you can see them here. There are plenty of really good and really bad fourth jerseys.
Many fans who didn’t like the Cavs new jerseys changed their opinion once they saw them in-person and on the players during a game, it may be wise to hold off on solidifying your opinion until you get the chance to see the City Edition jerseys in that same light as well.