Remember the unusual color-on-color uniforms NBA teams wore on Christmas Day last season? The NBA has something even more unusual planned for this season's Christmas uniforms.
ESPN.com can confirm that photos circulating on the Internet on Thursday are what NBA teams will be wearing on Christmas Day. The jerseys will have sleeves and, more intriguingly, will not have uniform numbers on the front. Instead, they will carry a team logo on the chest, similar to a hockey jersey, with the uniform number moved to the left sleeve. Each player's name and number will remain on the back, as usual. The overall visual effect is that of a glorified T-shirt.
Several of the jerseys were offered for sale earlier this week by an eBay seller called "erikdeals," whose listings for the Christmas jerseys included versions for the Bulls, Heat, Nets, Lakers and Thunder, all of whom are playing on Christmas Day. Although erikdeals' auction listings referred to the jerseys as "warm-ups," the designs matched the Christmas Day game jerseys shown in a recent adidas catalog obtained by ESPN.com.
SportsNet New York blogger Brian Erni, who covers the Nets, noticed erikdeals' listings on eBay and wondered if they might be Christmas jerseys. He also posted several of erikdeals' photos on Twitter, where they were quickly retweeted and re-posted by uniform fans.
When ESPN.com contacted erikdeals on Thursday afternoon to ask about the jerseys, erikdeals initially responded but then broke off communications and removed the listings for the Christmas jerseys.
The NBA and adidas did not respond to requests for comment.
The jerseys, which will be officially unveiled by the league later this month, mark a significant departure from past NBA uniform designs. Although several teams have been experimenting with sleeved alternate jerseys, the sleeves on those jerseys have been blank -- no numbers, no stripes, no patches, no patterns. These new designs, with the numbers on the sleeves, may indicate that the league and adidas are planning to turn sleeves into a significant uniform design element.
And although early NBA uniform history is sketchy, these Christmas designs appear to be the first NBA game jerseys -- and are certainly the first ones in the league's modern era -- that have not had uniform numbers on the front.
This will mark the second straight season that the NBA has used unconventional uniforms as a Christmas promotion. Last season's "Big Color" jerseys, with lettering and numbering that matched the jerseys' background colors, were criticized by some fans as being hard to read. The new jerseys for this Christmas are part of a uniform program called "Big Logo" -- an apparent follow-up name to last season's "Big Color" program.
EXCLUSIVE first look at Knicks Xmas Day jersey: pic.twitter.com/jaeHBOrQg1
— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) November 10, 2013