NBA Allows Blazers To Wear 'Rip City' Jersey At Home For Remainder Of Second Round
Let's state the obvious: the sleeved jerseys options that the NBA and adidas introduced a few seasons ago have not been well-received among the league's players. Though one wouldn't necessarily think that adding of a few inches of fabric on each side of a traditional basketball jersey would be all that controversial, that relatively small change has been roundly disapproved by most of the NBA's rank and file. Whether it's Lebron James trying to rip off his uniform mid-game or Robin Lopez tweeting that they should be put on a pyre and burned, reaction to the sleeves from the players has mostly been negative, so much so that it's possible the jerseys get scrapped when Nike takes over the NBA uniform contract next season.
But you can count the Portland Trail Blazers as supporters of the sleeves, so much so that they've asked to wear their sleeve "pride" uniforms, better known as their "Rip City" alternates, for the remainder of their home games in the second round, and for good reason. The Trail Blazers are undefeated in their "Rip City" sleeve jerseys this season, a streak that has expended to the three playoff games in which they wore said uniforms in the first round.
"We haven’t lost in ‘em," said Damian Lillard of the "Rip City" sleeve jerseys. "We typically play well in those uniforms, but I’ve always been a fan of the 'Rip City' jerseys, even before we added sleeves to them. It’s one of my favorite uniforms. Now that they put the sleeves on them, that’s just what it is. I like the look, it’s different."
The NBA would typically prefer that teams wear their sleeved jerseys no more than four times throughout the course of the playoffs, which would make the next time the Trail Blazers wear their "Rip City" jerseys, as they plan to do in Game Three Saturday night at the Moda Center, the final appearance of the sleeves in the postseason.
But fear not, you lovers of sleeves and Trail Blazers victories, as the NBA will allow the team to wear their "Rip City" jerseys for at least the remainder of the second round. It didn't take any haggling, just a simple request, which the league approved without incident.
"I reached out to the league and told them what jerseys we were going to wear for the second round and they said 'Ok,'" said Trail Blazers equipment manager Eric Hallman, who is in charge of all things uniform for the team, via email. "There was no back and forth about if we could or could not wear the 'Rip City' jerseys."
Hallman typically asks Lillard, as the captain of the team, what uniform he wants to wear when the choice is up for debate. And both due to affinity for the jerseys and the notion of not fixing what isn't broke, Lillard has asked that the Trail Blazers wear the "Rip City" jerseys whenever possible. That decision has been supported by the entirety of the team, as they are all aware of their 8-0 record between the regular and postseason when wearing their sleeve option. After all, when going up against a formidable opponent like Warriors, nothing can be left to chance.
"I ain’t superstitious, but maybe we shoot better (in the 'Rip City' jerseys)," said Lillard. "We play in sleeves in practice every day. Every day you got sleeves on, so maybe that has something to do with it. We haven’t lost in them, so we’re going to take our chances."