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Column: NBA Commissioner Silver is seeing the light. End the sleeve era before it spreads

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving pictured winning the 2014 NBA All-Star Game MVP. He was sporting a sleeved top, which is becoming more of a trend in the league. Could the Euroleague get in on the act too?

I don’t deem the Euroleague to copy everything the NBA does but the two basketball businesses work closely with each other – we all know that – from pre-season exhibitions to the general improvements, such as the Euroleague copying the court markings and the NBA adding tenths of a second to the shot clock like the Euroleague do.

Over the past year, the Golden State Warriors debuted short-sleeved jerseys. Thinking that it was just a one off, people voiced their opinions about the shirt, and they were mostly negative, but nothing much was thought of it. The Warriors had their headlines and that was that.

As time went on, then-NBA Commissioner David Stern’s reign was winding down and his successor Adam Silver was bringing more weight to the table; the sleeves became more and more frequent. Then we got a first glimpse of the traditional yearly advert promoting the Christmas Day games and even though the commercial itself was pretty cool, seeing the players promoting those jerseys was a definite look away moment.

Then, the pictures of the All-Star jerseys surfaced. And it became real. In fact, it became real before All-Star Weekend but to some. The Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns and the Minnesota Timberwolves started wearing sleeved jerseys in the early stages of the season as well, but the 2014 All-Star sleeves were amongst the worst that were ever seen and it’s then that the player began to voice their opinions publicly.

Now while this might be considered a long shot – but with the Euroleague and the NBA keeping close ties to each other – how many of you thought that this sleeved “craze” would be considered in the Euroleague at some stage in the future?

I was one of them, admittedly.


A chance for teams to add some extra sponsors on their shirts if the Euroleague higher-ups decided to allow three advertising brands on the front (or back) of the jerseys instead of the traditional two. A chance for some extra shirt sales, knowing that it’s something different for the Euroleague fan to buy, no matter who they supported and an overall fresh appeal for the player as well.

I do not doubt that the Euroleague would benefit from having sleeved jerseys, on a business point of view. But at the same time, the team’s respective board members might face criticism from their players that it’s uncomfortable, the sleeves are messing up our shooting motion and so on.

While there’s no guarantee that the Euroleague even had this as a mere thought in the back of their idea factory now, I think they would have considered the sleeves in the near future if the NBA’s experiment was successful.

Enter LeBron James.

The Miami Heat’s own walking advertisement billboard has been a heavy critic of the sleeved jerseys this season. The Heat were among the teams wearing sleeves on Christmas Day and on Latino Night. James, of course wore the sleeved atrocity in New Orleans for All-Star Weekend as well, so he has a good idea of how the jersey feels.

There’s no doubt that the experiment is failing and Silver is finally listening to the players.

Via Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

Commissioner Adam Silver told Bleacher Report he intends to revisit the issue after the season. He plans to meet with LeBron James, one of the loudest critics of the jerseys. The NBA could decide to curtail the use of the sleeved jerseys, leave it up to individual teams or simply kill the program for good.

“Ultimately, if the players don’t like them, we’ll move on to something else,” Silver told Bleacher Report. “I don’t regret doing it for this season. But it’s intended to be something fun for the fans and the players. And if it becomes a serious issue, as to whether players should be wearing sleeves, we’ll likely move onto other things.”

It isn’t a serious issue, but an issue that needs to be resolved. And hopefully Silver; who has been honest and open since taking full-time NBA Commissioner responsibilities in February realises that this is something that can easily be fixed.

Let’s just hope the NBA does it soon, otherwise the fad will grow to the other professional leagues around the globe and you know the Euroleague would be next on that list.

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