INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers will host the Charlotte Hornets on Black Friday wearing black uniforms -- the same jersey color they wore when they captured the first championship in franchise history in 2016 -- only with a major modification since the NBA's official outfitter switched from Adidas to Nike this season: The sleeves are gone.
"Oh I'm not a sleeve guy, me personally," said LeBron James, who revealed he had some input in the design of the jerseys known as the "Statement" edition in Cleveland's new four-uniform set for the 2017-18 season.
James, who signed a lifetime extension on his partnership with Nike in December 2015, certainly has motivation to defend the new design beyond aesthetics.
"Nah, I'm not a sleeves guy," James continued. "Just a tank top and shorts guy. That's the essence of basketball, tank top and shorts. So, that's what I'm about."
The Cavs have already debuted their "Association" (white) and "Icon" (wine) uniforms, as Nike has done away with the traditionally branded "home" and "away" options. They will also wear a "City" design at some point this season with "The Land" across the chest. That uniform will be primarily grey and gold, according to SportsLogos.net.
James is a fan of the new black uniforms that feature grey pinstripes (the color of the sword on the Cavs' secondary logo) that meet in the center of the jersey were the Cavs' C logo is displayed prominently.
"They're great," James said. "They're great. They're great. Black Friday, it's going to be nice to see that tonight. Hopefully everybody will wear all black tonight, all our fans and everything, to kind of set the mood. So, they're great uniforms."
He had a far less glowing review of the black uniforms from Adidas when he ripped the sleeves the first time he wore them with the Cavs in November 2015. James also criticized the sleeved uniforms when he played for the Miami Heat in March 2014.
The Cavs responded to James' concerns by having Becky Zielinski, who works as a seamstress for the Cleveland Browns, make alterations to James' sleeved uniform to allow more range of motion around the shoulders and armpits.
Cleveland wore those black uniforms for Games 5 and 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals when it became the first team in league history to rally back from a 3-1 Finals deficit to win the title.
"It's probably going to be a staple of this franchise forever," James said. "Because we won our first championship in franchise history in all black so, no matter who is in uniform here throughout the rest of eternity, I feel like the black will be incorporated, the black uniform with probably be incorporated in the grand scheme of things just for the memories."
James would also like to see the Cavs break out the black retro uniform that they wore for road games from 1994-99, featuring a splash of powder blue across the chest and a basketball going through a net on the shorts. Last month James shared a clip of a music video from Cleveland-native rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony wearing the jerseys on his Instagram story with the caption, "P.S. We need those jerseys retroed ASAP!!"
"I would love to see those," James said. "I haven't had any conversation with the department as of late, but I would love for those uniforms to come back. You talking about the black with the powder blue and the orange, the net? Yeah yeah those are crazy. They got them on the video game, on 2K. So, I play with them on 2K for sure. It'd be great, actually, to wear those things."
"Nah, I couldn't afford that," James said. "Got to have money to get that stuff."