What with all the hype and excitement of the NBA playoffs, you may have missed a crucial bit of uniform-related NBA news that broke earlier this week: The league will have a new sock supplier -- the California-based company Stance -- starting next season.
That may not seem like a major news item, but it has the potential to significantly change the game's look. The key info came in this story from ESPN.com's Darren Rovell, which included the following passage:
"As part of the multiyear deal, which will begin next season, Stance will make socks for all the league's players in team colors. ... Because the league considers the sock an accessory and not part of the uniform, even though players are required to wear them, the NBA is allowing Stance to have its logo on the socks just like Spalding has its logo on the basketball."
There's a lot to unpack from those two sentences. Here are five big takeaways:
The Stance deal promises to bring team colors back to NBA hosiery. And judging by Stance's preliminary mock-ups, which were released this week, those colors will be deployed in some very bold designs.
2. Get ready for lots of logos (and not just on the socks). Current NBA socks have only one logo -- the league's familiar red, white and blue mark. The new Stance socks will have the league logo, Stance's logo (which, thankfully, is fairly innocuous), and the team logo. This is the start of what will likely be a wave of NBA logo clutter in the coming years.
Former commissioner David Stern was dead-set against having manufacturers' logos on team uniforms, but new commish Adam Silver doesn't share that view. So the league's new uniform outfitter, slated to take over for Adidas at the start of the 2017-18 season (and widely expected to be either Nike or Under Armour), will be permitted to have its logo on all jerseys and shorts.
Moreover, the league has been threatening to add corporate advertising patches to its uniforms for years now. Add it all up and you have what's likely to be a logo-o-rama on the hard court within another season or two.
3. Uni element or accessory? It's interesting that the league is considering socks as accessories rather than uniform components, even though they'll now be produced in team colors.
Back in the day, NBA socks were routinely team-colored (or at least team-color-striped) and were definitely considered to be a part of the uniform. Some teams, like the Bucks, even had their team names on the socks.
So the new Stance socks are, in some ways, a return to the older concept of integrating the socks into the larger uniform scheme. But by classifying the new socks as accessories, the league is giving the players some leeway in terms of their sock stylings. And that leads us to ...
4. Can personalized socks be far behind? Personalized NBA socks like these have become enormously popular retail items in recent years. Would anyone be surprised to see some of the bigger NBA stars wearing their own personalized sock designs under the new Stance contract? After all, many players already have their own customized sneakers. And that leads us to ...
5. It's gonna be a lower-leg mishmash out there. NBA players already have increasingly flamboyant sneaker designs, and now they're going to have a much bolder look for their socks as well. In addition, more and more players are now wearing leggings or tights.
How are those going to look in conjunction with the new socks? When will the league strike a deal with an official tights supplier, and how long will it be before that supplier starts providing team-patterned designs instead of the standard solid-color tights?
These are all fair questions to ponder as the NBA moves ahead into the Adam Silver era.
Paul Lukas is a big fan of striped socks, whether worn by NBA players or by anyone else. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch membership program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted or just ask him a question? Contact him here.