When it comes to your passion for the NBA, Nike knows it’s the uniforms that really excite you. They’ve given 110% in their superlative- and jargon-packed press release. My critique feels like a slam dunk; let me know if you think it’s an airball.
Here’s yesterday’s Nike release. I’ve put the superlatives and other weasel words in bold, the newly coined jargon in bold italic, and passive voice in italic.
JULY 18, 2017
NIKE AND THE NBA REVEAL THE FIRST OF THE LEAGUE’S 2017-18 GAME UNIFORMS
Announced in June 2015, Nike’s partnership with the NBA begins with the 2017-18 season. Today, and prior to a major launch in early fall, Nike and the NBA release details of four new primary uniforms and give a first glimpse of the league champion’s Association jersey.
Informed by more than 25 years of research on all levels of basketball and insight from current NBA players, the uniform is built on a refined version of the Nike Aeroswift basketball chassis.
Commentary: Aeroswift Chassis would be a good name for a band from the 80’s — or maybe the undercarriage of a Buick. I’m trying to imagine LeBron James or Isaiah Thomas saying, “Wow, the chassis on this new uniform is incredible.”
Translation: We improved our existing basketball jersey.
Nike tuned the uniform design to the rigors of this increasingly intense 82-game season by employing 3D-body maps of players, including heat and sweat maps. This research led Nike’s designers to make significant changes to the weight, fit and construction of the uniforms — paying special attention to enabling agility.
Commentary: The 82-game season is the same as last year. It was intense last year. The players were agile. Why did it take this long to pay attention to that? Maybe it was the trauma of examining the virtual reality 3D-body and sweat map of 6-foot, 9-inch, 289-pound Glen “Big Baby” Davis.
Translation: Too make the jerseys better, we studied how basketball players move and sweat.
NBA players, including members of last summer’s gold medal-winning USA Basketball team, tested early versions of the uniforms and provided specific feedback that prompted Nike to further evolve the designs in ways that included moving the armhole, neck and side seams to eliminate distractions for athletes.
The most significant change comes to the back shoulder of the uniform where Nike designers altered the construction for a vastly improved fit. Additionally, the hemlines on the bottom of both the jersey and shorts were modified to allow for full range of motion.
Commentary: This is the most detailed and factual part of the release. Nike gets points for using actual words like “armhole,” “seams,” and “hemlines.” But despite weasel words like “specific,” “further evolve,” and “vastly improved,” we still don’t know how they changed the uniform.
Translation: Players told us the armholes, seams, and hems were annoying them, so we fixed them.
“The mental advantage of a quality uniform is priceless,” says Kyrie Irving. “The fact that Nike listened to all of our feedback while developing the new NBA uniforms speaks volumes. I’m excited for the new fit and feel.”
“When you look and feel good, you play good,” says Draymond Green. “I welcome any competitive advantage on the court and the new Nike NBA uniforms deliver on the feedback that we’ve provided.”
Commentary: Despite Draymond Green’s grammatical deficiencies, I find it hard to be believe these players said stuff like “quality uniform is priceless” and “deliver on the feedback we’ve provided.” No person quoted in a press release has ever actually said what they’re quoted as saying.
Translation: “I’m glad Nike made the uniform less annoying,” says Kyrie Irving. “I’m not sure how this gives me an advantage over all the other players wearing the same uniform, but it does,” says Draymond Green.
The uniform is comprised of a combination of Alpha Yarns and recycled polyester (each athlete uniform represents approximately 20 recycled PET bottles). Not only does this yarn blend match Nike’s broad commitment to sustainability, it also removes moisture more quickly than previous NBA uniforms, wicking sweat 30-percent faster than current NBA uniforms.
Commentary: A release about polyester uniforms on an Aeroswift chassis inevitably recalls the leisure suit stylings of Larry Bird. Hence the need for a new name: “Alpha Yarn.”
Translation: We turned soda bottles into polyester. But it’s ok because it makes sweat evaporate faster.
A NEW NAMING CONVENTION FOR NBA UNIFORMS
Coinciding with the introduction of the new uniforms, the NBA is eliminating its “Home” and “Road” uniform designations. Beginning with the 2017-18 season, home teams will pick which of their uniforms will be worn at all home games and visiting teams will choose a contrasting uniform within their own assortment.
Translation: We need more types of uniforms so we can sell more overpriced team gear to fans.
Nike and the NBA worked together to create four primary uniforms for each team, classified as “editions,” which draw from the rich heritage of the NBA and its respective franchises.
The first two editions of the NBA uniforms, which will be introduced by teams this summer and will make their on-court debut at the start of the season, are the Association and Icon editions. The two remaining core uniforms, inspired by the mindset of the NBA athlete and the communities that support their teams through thick and thin, respectively, will be revealed in the coming months.
Commentary: Did you throw up a little in your mouth when you read “inspired by the mindset of the NBA athlete and the communities that support their teams through thick and thin, respectively”? I did. This is bullshit in pure form. Ask any fan of the 76ers, the Lakers, or any other team that tanked the season to get better draft picks if they support their teams through thick and thin, respectively. And am I the only editor who thinks “editions” makes no sense for anything except written words? Who’s “editing” these uniforms?
Translation: We gave the home and away uniforms evocative and meaningless names. We haven’t named the other two uniforms, but don’t worry, you’ll still be able to buy them in the souvenir shop.
The Association Edition, the traditional home white uniform that all 30 teams will have in their assortment, links them as members of the most exclusive basketball club in the world. It represents an achievement that most athletes have worked their entire lives to reach.
The Icon Edition, previously known as the road uniform, represents the rich heritage and iconic identity that exists within each franchise. This edition utilizes the team’s primary color, a color that dominates the closets of the most diehard fans.
Commentary: I’m imagining a bunch of NBA licensing execs in a boardroom, high-fiving each other and chanting “Dominate the closet! Dominate the closet!” Unfortunately, I’m too dim to understand how one set of laundry can celebrate the exclusivity of the NBA and the other a “rich and iconic identity.”
Translation: The home uniforms are white and the road uniforms are a solid color, just as they always have been.
Also this season, eight NBA teams will have a Classic Edition uniform that will be available in the fall. The Classic Edition celebrates some of the most iconic uniforms in league history and can be worn at each team’s discretion.
Commentary: After a whole release about new uniforms, Nike is now bragging about old uniforms. Will they bring back the short shorts, too? Somehow I doubt it.
Translation: If we wear old uniforms a few times, you’ll have an excuse to buy even more gear.
Complementing the new uniform editions, Nike will also unveil a new on-court collection, including tights and socks, that provide a seamless look for the greatest athletes in the world when they play on the game’s biggest stages.
Commentary: At the top of the release, you said you improved the seams. So how can they be seamless, now?
Translation: We have tights and socks that match the uniforms. Since the jerseys will probably cost $75 each, you might have to settle for colored socks with a logo on them.
Puffing up the ordinary
In my analysis of Lucy Kellaway’s rules for corporate claptrap, I said a main reason people use it is to make the ordinary sound exciting.
Like new basketball uniforms, for instance.