LeBron James is America. Why? Because he hates those sleeved NBA jerseys just as much as the rest of us. (OK, I know not all of you all hate them, but for the majority ... we hate them.)
LeBron has not-so-slyly let the world know that he's not about that sleeved life. During the 2013 NBA Christmas showcase, as a member of the Miami Heat, the two-time champion said that the Heat's shooters "are already upset about" the sleeved holiday uniforms they were mandated to wear by the NBA and adidas.
LEBRON: "I can’t have my shooters out there worrying about some sleeves and not shooting the ball.”
— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) December 21, 2013
Later in the season against the San Antonio Spurs, after a game in which James shot just 6-for-18 from the field, he said he's "not a big fans of the jerseys." James, who finished with 19 points, elaborated by saying, "Every time I shoot it feels like it's just pulling right up underneath my arm. I already don't have much room for error on my jump shot. It's definitely not a good thing."
While some thought LeBron was just searching for excuses, he went a full season and a half without having to wear sleeves again. That is until last night's nationally televised game versus the New York Knicks.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were decked out in their new alternate black sleeved uniforms, and LeBron started struggling again in the sleeves. Through a quarter and a half, LeBron went 4-for-11 from the field, 0-4 from three-point range and 0-2 on free throws. Moreover, James only had eight points and no assists. LeBron was officially fed up, and then this happened. (Courtesy of SB Nation)
Two things to note:
ONE: After ripping his sleeve apart like a child ravages through wrapping paper in search of gifts, LeBron shot 5-for-12 from the field, 1-1 from three-point range, 4-5 from the line and scored 15 points with three assists.
TWO: LeBron stated that he wasn't mad at the sleeves after the game, stating that he was frustrated with his jumper and vented by tugging and tearing at the sleeved jersey. LeBron follow up by saying ...
LeBron James on how he feels about sleeved jerseys. "If the fans love them, I love them." He added doesn't mind wearing them here and there.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) November 5, 2015
Look, LeBron isn't the first player (ask Dirk Nowitzki or Steph Curry) to be frustrated by being forced to wear a sleeved jersey, and commissioner Adam Silver has said, "If players don't like them, we'll move on to something else." However, the NBA and the Players Association aren't going to sacrifice the millions in revenue over sleeved uniforms, so there's no putting the toothpaste back in the tube. However, I have a simple solution that leaves everyone satisfied.
Make wearing sleeves optional.
Many professional soccer leagues allow apparel providers to offer a short-sleeved and a long-sleeved kit for players to wear on request. The integrity of the uniform is not compromised, and more often than not it's barely noticeable. Moreover, the opportunity to generate additional revenue is always a plus for the league. For example, the Cavaliers have five uniforms that they'll wear this season. By adding a sleeved jersey versus no-sleeve jersey option, you now have 10 uniforms available for purchase.
Eddie Maisonet is the founder and editor emeritus of The Sports Fan Journal. Currently, he serves as an associate editor for ESPN.com. He is an unabashed Russell Westbrook and Barry Switzer apologist, owns over 100 fitteds and snapbacks, and lives by Reggie Jackson’s famous quote, “I am the straw that stirs the drink.”