24 Seconds With David Jovanovic

by Jim Eichenhofer

The lone remaining employee who’s been with the team since its previous incarnation dating back to its first year in North Carolina, New Orleans Pelicans equipment manager David Jovanovic has worked in the NBA since 1988, when sales of the league’s merchandise and apparel were just beginning to climb. In conjunction with New Orleans’ unveiling of its brand-new Mardi Gras uniforms, Pelicans.com sat down with Jovanovic to ask a few related questions.

Pelicans.com: The franchise previously wore Mardi Gras uniforms from 2010-13, the last time coinciding with Anthony Davis’ rookie season. What did the players like most about them?

Jovanovic: The uniqueness of them. A lot of players want to wear something different that’s a change (from what they usually wear). I think different uniforms add a little spice to the event.

Pelicans.com: New Orleans will be using sleeved uniforms for the first time. Are there any unique challenges that sleeved uniforms present?

Jovanovic: For the players, it’s a feel thing. For some of the young guys, it might not be any adjustment, because they’re used to maybe wearing this in college or AAU. For some of the older players, it may be a little different. But most of the guys wear T-shirts in practice, so it’s not that big of a deal.

Pelicans.com: Do you ever have players not like the fit of a brand-new jersey – too loose, too tight, etc. – when they first get it and therefore request a different one?

Jovanovic: No, not really. It hasn’t happened in a long time, but in the past a couple players had an allergic reaction to the soap we were using in washing the uniforms, so we had to change to something that was hypoallergenic. But nothing related to the fit.

Pelicans.com: The Pelicans will be wearing these Mardi Gras uniforms for six games in 2015-16. They also have red alternate uniforms they wear commonly on the road and occasionally at home. How is it determined which games they will wear red?

Jovanovic: Last season the red uniforms were worn on the road for two-game trips. This season, we will wear them on the road for one-game trips (Editor’s note: Excluding Christmas and a Feb. 3 game at San Antonio during Mardi Gras season), partly because we have a lot more single-game trips. We’ll also wear them at home in select games.

Pelicans.com: In June, the NBA announced that its official apparel provider will change to Nike in 2017-18. What will be the ramifications of that large of a change for an equipment manager?

Jovanovic: It’s pretty big, because it will impact everything the players use. Initially, it may impact the total number of uniforms that some teams have (when the apparel changes to Nike). For example, some teams have six different uniforms right now, such as Miami. They may not have six uniforms to start with. They may end up with six, but initially they’ll probably have three or four.

Pelicans.com: What uniform numbers are some of the new Pelicans players wearing who’ve officially signed?

Jovanovic: Kendrick Perkins will wear 5, Alonzo Gee is 15, Bryce Dejean-Jones is 31.

Pelicans.com: What are some of the rules players need to know about selecting uniform numbers?

Jovanovic: If a player has a number he doesn’t want, it takes about two years to change it. The league doesn’t want stars changing numbers constantly, because a lot of jerseys are made for retail use.

Pelicans.com:Have you seen cases of players being extremely superstitious about needing a specific number in order to play well?

Jovanovic: Not really in terms of needing a number to play well, but for example, Alexis Ajinca wore 12 in his first game with us, because he had 12 somewhere else. But when he came in he said, “No, I don’t want 12. I want to be 42.” Then he wanted the accent mark in his name, so we got that on it eventually as well.

Pelicans.com: These Mardi Gras uniforms are obviously new in 2015-16. But what gear changes for NBA teams every season?

Jovanovic: Game warmups change every year. Jackets, pants, the short-sleeve shooting shirts. There is also a T-shirt that players wear pregame that will change this year, a different look.