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Nike left red-faced and vow to change NBA jerseys after players suffer 'wardrobe malfunctions'

This is the apparel giant’s first season after taking over the contract from Adidas.

Image: USA TODAY Sports

THE 2017/18 NBA season is only three weeks old, but there have already been a number of high-profile uniform malfunctions. Now Nike, in the midst of its first year as the league’s official apparel provider, has promised to make necessary changes.

With tweaked aesthetics and the introduction of jersey sponsorships, the uniforms have a different look from last year’s Adidas designs, but they come with one major downside: they rip easily. Since the start of the season, several players, including LeBron James, Ben Simmons, and Kevin Love, have seen their jerseys fall apart on them on game day.

One week after James ripped his jersey on opening night, Nike president and CEO Mark Parker felt that the problem was under control, but it has only escalated since then. The company addressed the issue earlier this week in a statement provided to Darren Rovell of ESPN:

“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.”

It was a welcome statement from the world’s largest apparel company. The tears have been bad enough on their own, but it hasn’t helped that they’ve affected some of the league’s biggest stars. Check out this clip of Ben Simmons losing his jersey while fighting for a rebound.

All it took was one casual swipe from Lance Stephenson to leave the jersey in tatters.

Kevin Love wasn’t even in the game when it happened to him. The forward was walking towards the bench when he pulled his jersey over his head, causing it to tear.

In all, at least five players have ripped their jerseys since Nike took over as the NBA’s uniform provider, including James, Simmons, Love, Draymond Green, and Tyler Ennis. Those five are all Nike spokesmen, creating an embarrassing footnote for the company.

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The Nike jerseys are purported to dry 15% faster than the old model and are made partly from recycled bottles, changes that could account for the flimsiness. However, a similar design was used with no known issues at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

It is unknown how many jerseys will be discarded as Nike works to find a solution.

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