BOSTON – The Boston Celtics will not only be featuring an almost entirely new roster this fall; they, along with the other 29 NBA teams, will be donning fresh sets of innovative Nike uniforms when they hit the courts.
In its new global apparel partnership with the NBA, Nike has designed uniforms with AeroSwift Technology that are designed to enhance athlete performance.
The Celtics offially unveiled three of their new uniforms Thursday night in Boston with the help of three of their newest players – Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum.
“It makes sense for Nike to be taking over the uniforms and our apparel in the league,” Irving told guests of the showcase. “Nike, I’ve been with them for the last eight years – since I was in high school – and to understand the performance base of what the uniforms entail, to see how it’s revolutionized apparel, and the sneakers, and everything that’s going on, there’s not a better brand out there that should have the NBA right now in their hands.”
How has Nike revolutionized the uniforms? It’s all in the tailoring.
Nike NBA apparel team representative Peter Neal walked through some of the uniforms’ most profound changes during the showcase.
One noticeable difference is the rolled back seaming along the back of the jersey top, which allows a fuller range of motion for the players’ arms. Neal also explained that Nike has altered the waistline to reduce the weight of the shorts by 30 percent.
“That reduction of weight really matters when you think about an NBA player, who, on average, is going to run four miles and change direction over 1,000 times over the course of a game,” said Neal. “That reduction in weight reduces the load that we’re going to put on our players.”
Nike has made these changes without drastically altering the traditional look of Boston’s jerseys. The only major differences are the Nike logo on the front right shoulder, and the logo of Celtics partner General Electric on the front left shoulder.
Maintaining tradition was key for team president Rich Gotham 15 months ago when he and the Celtics sat down with Nike reps to discuss the jersey concept.
“When you’re the Celtics and you think about uniforms – really when you think about almost any decision we make as a business – it’s always about balancing the history and the tradition and the pride that goes along with the Celtics, with the desire to be innovative and the desire to be relevant,” said Gotham. “[Nike] got that part of the Celtics: What we’re all about and how important the history and the tradition is to us.”
One tradition that the NBA will do away with this season is the concept of having “home” and “away” uniforms. Instead, the home team will choose which uniform it will wear, and then the visiting team will pick a contrasting uniform from its own set.
There are names for each of the jerseys. There is the “Association” jersey, which is the Celtics’ traditional white home jersey. There is the “Icon,” which is the traditional green road jersey. And there is the “Statement,” which is a new black jersey with green lettering. A fourth uniform will be released at a later date.
Seeing the new jerseys firsthand sparked excitement for the Celtics players, who begin training camp next week.
“Now we have this lightweight uniform that we’re all going to love,” said Irving. “We have the Statement jersey, we have the Association, and the Icon. And when you put all those together, now you have a great lineage of uniforms that we can all be proud of.
“What a time to have Nike take over and have us as Nike athletes, and not just us as Nike athletes, but all of us across the league that are Nike athletes, pay homage to those who have come before us,” continued the four-time All-Star point guard. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way than having a Boston uniform on.”
Before they know it, Irving and the rest of the Celtics will be donning those new uniforms, as they embrace the simple, traditional appearance, while benefiting from the performance-based technology.