The NBA underwent significant changes this past season in the first year of an eight-year, $1 billion merchandise deal with Nike. The brand did away with traditional home and road jerseys, and outfitted teams with three options that could be worn under any circumstance.
Although jarring to see, the Lakers took the court at Staples Center in their purple (“Statement”) jerseys on several occasions last season. They also wore yellow (“Icon”) for certain road games, including a tilt with the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden.
With the start of the 2018-19 season drawing closer, more change is on the horizon. This time, with footwear.
According to ESPN’s Nick DePaula, players will no longer be bound by stringent guidelines when it comes to the color(s) of their game sneakers:
For the first time in league history, the NBA will allow players to wear sneakers of any color at any point during the upcoming season, league sources confirmed.
Although the NBA is loosening the reins, certain restrictions will remain in place:
The league will continue to look closely at any third-party logos, as last season saw everything from nonapproved movie cover artwork to podcast logos to charity organization icons sneak onto the hardwood.
And there still are restrictions against any “sharp protruding objects or reflective elements,” such gleaming chrome.
Save for select dates (e.g. Christmas, Black History Month, All-Star Game, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, NBA Finals), players have traditionally been limited to wearing sneakers that were 51 percent white or black and accompanied by a team’s accent color, or entirely made up of a team’s color(s).
Michael Jordan memorably was warned over a pair of Air Jordan 1 shoes he wore during the 1984-85 season that were black and red, lending to them becoming known in the sneakerhead community as the “Banned” pair.
Amongst Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James figures to benefit most prominently from the change. He’s regularly been outfitted by Nike in player exclusives that at times pushed the limits of what the NBA would allow.
Being that James is entering his first season with the Lakers, it stands to reason he and Nike will look to capitalize on the new guidelines. Coincidentally, his arrival has already been accompanied by the Lakers changing their jersey style to pay homage to the Showtime Era.