Believe it or not, there was once a time when NBL jerseys were worn proudly in public places.
It was the glory days of the 1990s, basketball was at its apex and the NBL rode the wave of NBA popularity to a new height in the sporting landscape.
The jerseys of the day were littered with sponsor logos, yet there was something uniquely Australian about them.
It is almost as if they were retro before the passage of time necessary to become retro. Australia took a number of years to catch on to the baggy uniforms popularized by Michael Jordan, so what resulted was something that looked a little more like a footy outfit.
Gone are the days where shorts were so short that you might see an errand pube, the NBL spent the last years of the decade signing deals with bigger name companies which in turn, yielded uglier ensembles.
The Champion uniform was the first offensive cab off the ranks, burdening our collective eyeballs with its side strips plastered with its “C” logo.
It was not the wear of a champion and that was reflected with the public’s indifferent reaction to them. The league was beginning to go downhill, and so was its sportswear.
Then there was And1.
And 1 is a respected basketball company, right?
The And1 mix-tapes were a revelation in the early noughties and helped usher in a new fascination in the game while the NBL and NBA began to wane in popularity.
It should have stood to reason that a partnership between the NBL and And1 would pay dividends in the attractiveness stake, making something that a basketball fan is proud to have draped over their torsos.
Sure, it was a lot better than Champion, but we’re still stuck at BORESVILLE station waiting on a train to somewhere interesting.
When the NBL announced its rushed deal with ISC after the And1 deal passed, no one was expecting much.
There was no surprise when nothing much was provided either.
The ISC jerseys were little more than lightly pastel-colored smocks. Their bland nature was perhaps a plan as to not over-excite any children who might be watching the game and guzzling red cordial.
The jerseys weren’t the ugly Champion eye-gougers, but they were just kind of ‘there’. I can’t say I saw too many people wearing them for a fashion statement.
This jersey has the kind of blue you’d expect to see on a newborn’s onesie.
Now, 2016, enter Mitchell & Ness.
Mitchell & Ness, I came to find out, is a very well respected maker of authentic throwback NBA jerseys and retro apparel. It is an official subsidiary of Adidas.
The deal signed with the NBL will present a unique challenge to Mitchell & Ness, as it will be their first shot at designing brand new uniforms and hats for an entire league.
NBL General Manager Jeremy Loeliger had this to say about the deal, confirmed today:
“To have such an icon of the basketball industry producing our on and off court products is a fantastic result for both the teams and fans of the sport in Australia. They not only have a long history in knowing what works in sports retail and apparel, but they also have cutting edge expertise at their fingertips through their owners, Adidas.”
With the NBL looking to claw its way back to the glory days, there is something fitting about signing a company like Mitchell & Ness, whose slogan is “Nostalgia Co.”
NBL fans should be pleasantly optimistic about the deal, and should trust that Mitchell & Ness can provide us unique, modern, and equally retro wear that wont get us mocked in public.
To check out their range of apparel head to https://www.mitchellandness.com
The NBL’s media release here: