NBA

Nike and the NBA make a Statement with new innovative jerseys

Jay Asser 18/09/2017
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New era: Nike's Statement edition uniforms for all 30 teams.

Welcome to Nike’s NBA.

The brand has now taken over the league’s uniforms and apparel for the upcoming 2017-18 season, something which was anticipated since Nike and the NBA announced the partnership back in 2015.

Over the summer, Nike unveiled teams’ home and away uniforms, or as the brand likes to officially call it, the ‘Association Edition’ and ‘Icon Edition’, respectively.

The final piece of the puzzle came just days ago when Nike introduced the ‘Statement Edition’, which is basically the alternate uniforms all 30 teams will wear at times this season.

Between all three editions, the Statement definitely took the most risk fashion-wise, but before diving into specific looks, lets talk about what Nike is doing with the uniforms that goes beyond just the aesthetics.

The brand introduced NikeConnect, which allows you to experience your jersey like never before.

Each adult-sized jersey will have a NFC (near field communication) chip located on the jock tag that you scan with your smartphone to unlock exclusive player and team content, like highlights, athletes’ music playlists and more.

After purchasing a jersey, all you need to do is download the NikeConnect app on iOS or Android, tap the Nike NFC chip with your smartphone, sign in with your NikePlus account and boom, a treasure trove of content at your fingertips.

You can also take advantage of offers and rewards through NikeConnect, so there’s more incentive than usual to rock your favourite player’s jersey.

We knew Nike would have something up their sleeve when they took over the league’s apparel and this is the kind of innovation that fans can really get excited about. If Nike are doing this in just their first season with the league, there’s every reason to be optimistic that more is on the way.

As far as the style of the Statement uniforms, Nike deserves credit for trying bold looks and not sticking with the status quo.

Some of my personal favourites include Portland’s red-heavy look with nothing but black trimming and lettering. The two-toned uniform stands out and isn’t overdone.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Oklahoma City’s dark blue uniforms. It’s no secret that the Thunder have lacked a distinctive style since the franchise relocated, but their Statement look finally hits the mark and they should consider breaking it out often.

I’m a sucker for grey so Brooklyn’s charcoal unis sit nicely with me. The ‘BKLYN’ lettering across the front is tastefully done and the whole looks just screams modern to me, which is right in line with the borough’s identity.

A couple of the uniforms I’m not the biggest fan of are Golden State’s and Milwaukee’s. I get what both are going for, but the oversized logos on each just make it look like the scaling was off when they were designed.

I’m also lukewarm on Minnesota’s bright green highlighter look. I actually like the placement of their stripes and the overall design, just not the eyesore of a colour. But hey, they definitely stand out.

Some teams who don’t normally have black in their colour palette chose to go dark with their Statement uniforms, like Boston. The Celtics don’t have much to work with outside of their traditional green and white, and their alternates in the past have ranged from ‘whatever’ to ‘why are they wearing these again?’ I’m mostly indifferent on their black Statement editions, but the more I see them, the more I talk myself into them.

Not all uniforms are going to be liked by everyone, that’s just an impossible ask for Nike. But it’s nice to see the brand taking some chances as far as looks, while also innovating. It’s fair to say the NBA is in good hands for the coming years.

The Statement editions will be available November 20 on nike.com/nba. For UAE customers, an authentic LeBron James jersey will go for Dh799, while a swingman Kevin Durant jersey will cost Dh369.

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NBA

Boston Celtics' Danny Ainge shoots for the moon and catches a star in Kyrie Irving trade

Jay Asser 23/08/2017
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Shrewd business: Ainge.

And you thought Danny Ainge had lost his gambling touch.

After countless near-trades and moments of asset hoarding, the Boston Celtics general manager reminded everyone he isn’t afraid to pull the trigger at any time and on anyone.

The move to trade face-of-the-franchise Isaiah Thomas, along with valuable wing Jae Crowder and, of course, the crown jewel Brooklyn Nets 2018 draft pick, for Kyrie Irving is Ainge’s biggest swing for the fences yet in the Celtics’ current rebuild.

It’s aggressive. It may even be unnecessary. But there’s no doubting it’s a bold, high-variance play that Ainge hopes will result in raising Boston’s ceiling even further.

Because as it stood before the trade, things were going just swimmingly for last season’s Eastern Conference top seed. It truly seemed like Ainge finally had what he wanted – two timelines, one for the present and one for the future, to build on simultaneously.

The only problem, however, was a decision on Thomas loomed next offseason that may have locked the Celtics into a third, alternate timeline where the present and future don’t fully overlap.

It may seem overly cautious to not want to pay top dollar for a player coming off one of the most efficient scoring seasons in history, resulting in a top-five finish in MVP voting and an All-NBA Second Team selection – let alone having helped rebuild the franchise and capturing the city’s heart – but Thomas, a 5’9″ guard who will be 29 next summer and is currently recovering from a bad hip, comes with undeniable risk.

Yet, the biggest gamble Ainge is taking and what is likely his number one reason for making the move, is Irving not having reached his full potential.

At 25, arguably the league’s best one-on-one player is just entering his prime with a history of being a clutch-time performer capable of coming through in the biggest moments on the biggest stage.

Put him in Brad Stevens’ motion-based offence and watch him reach another level, as so many players under the Celtics coach have done.

This is also a bet on Irving as a person. You wanted to get out of LeBron James’ shadow and be a leader? Here you go.

For the Cavaliers, the trade is a home run. Newly-appointed general manager Koby Altman has managed to keep the team strong right now as they vie for another title with James, while also restocking the cupboard should LeBron bolt.

With as little leverage as Cleveland had, Ainge certainly overpaid, but in the larger context the Celtics had the margin to do just that for the chance to solidify their future.

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NBA schedule announced with tweaks for new league season

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The NBA announced its full 1,230-game schedule for the upcoming season, complete with tweaks designed to reduce wear-and-tear on players through the grinding 26-week campaign.

The 2017-18 season will be the first season in NBA history in which no team plays four games in five days. The number of back-to-back games has been reduced to 14.4 per team — down from 16.3 last year.

The issue of keeping teams fresh during a regular-season lasting more than six months gained urgency as coaches opted to rest stars like LeBron James and Stephen Curry occasionally to be sure they’d be ready for deep playoff runs.

The absence of marquee players was felt not only by fans who paid for tickets but also by national broadcasters. ABC and ESPN recently paid $24 billion for the right to air some of the league’s marquee games.

To make it possible, the league shortened the pre-season, and added about a week to the regular season.

The season that tips off on October 17 with the reigning champion Golden State Warriors taking on the Houston Rockets and the Cleveland Cavaliers, bested by the Warriors in last season’s finals, taking on the Boston Celtics in a rematch of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The NBA had already revealed its five Christmas Day contests, which include a Warriors-Cavaliers rematch. The two teams, who have clashed in the last three championship series, will meet again on Martin Luther King Jr Day — January 15.

Three-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, traded from the Sacramento Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans last season, makes his first return to Sacramento in week two.

There could be fireworks on November 15, when Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers visit the Los Angeles Lakers and rookie Lonzo Ball — the second overall pick in June’s draft.

Ball’s father LaVar Ball and Embiid traded barbs on social media during the off-season.

Paul George, traded by the Indiana Pacers to Oklahoma City, returns with the Thunder and NBA Most Valuable Player Russell Westbrook to take on the Pacers on December 13.

Chris Paul will be back in Los Angeles to take on his old team the Clippers as a Houston Rocket on January 15.

Jimmy Butler, dealt by the Bulls to the Minnesota Timberwolves in June, returns to Chicago with his new team on February 9.

Gordon Hayward, who signed with the Celtics on March 28, returns to take on his old team the Utah Jazz on March 28.

In international games already announced, the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets will play in Mexico City on December 9 and the 76ers and Celtics will meet in London on January 11.​

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