More than two years after the NBA announced its global merchandising and marketing partnership with Nike to become the league's official uniform provider beginning with the 2017-18 season, the logistics are beginning to fall into place. The idea of switching out all of the existing product for that which is yet to come seems like a daunting task, but retailers have been preparing for the event for quite some time to ensure a fairly seamless transition.
In order to figure out exactly how all of this will go down, we reached out to Lisa Piken Koper, the NBA's vice president of global partnerships, to get as much information as possible on the league's upcoming uniform switch from adidas to Nike.
David E. KluthoDavid E. Klutho-USA TODAY Sports
FOX Sports: "Can you start by giving us some background on the uniform change, logistically? How is that all going to take place?"
Lisa Piken Koper: "There’s two sides. There’s the actual outfitting and the development of the product for the players, which we’ve been working with Nike for a year already on what that looks like. Everything from the teams getting to see what the new identities will be (if there are new identities), from what the updated uniforms look like, when they are sort of switched into the Nike template from the adidas template. So that whole process has happened over the last year.
"And then Nike has gone to retail and gone out to the market really in January, February and March, selling in what the new product will look like. Gearing up for our global launch, which will be 10/1, 2017.
FOX Sports: "I saw the Cavaliers released their new logos. Obviously this has been in the works for a while. Are all the teams going to have some new secondary logos like the Cavs, or is it just a handful at this point?"
Lisa Piken Koper: "No, it’s on a team-by-team basis. It isn’t going to be sort of a sweeping new identity for the entire league, it’s team by team, where some will be changing. It’s really, for the Nike transition, it’s taking some existing uniforms and, how does that translate into Nike’s technology? They call it a chassis, so that’s what their uniform template will look like. So some teams may look similar, and some teams may have pretty drastic changes — both logos as well as uniforms."
FOX Sports: "And I guess the advertising component, the advertising logos on the uniforms might play a part in that as well, right?"
Lisa Piken Koper: "There will be sponsor logos on uniforms on-court starting next season, and it will be uniform across all teams on the left chest. That part doesn’t really come into play. When Nike was designing the uniforms, the sponsor marks were not contemplated."
FOX Sports: "From a logistical standpoint, obviously there’s a lot of existing product, in terms of replica jerseys in team stores, and retailers all across the country that have product that is not Nike. What happens to all of that?"
Lisa Piken Koper: "The retail world has known about this transition for quite some time, so it’s really up to the retailers to manage their inventory, sell down and be prepared for when all new product comes in at the start of next season. So it’s really up to them.
"The strategy differs from retailer to retailer, but at the conclusion of the season, you’ll probably start to see more retailers just trying to move through — whether it’s using promotions or other things — to get through some of that inventory. But they’ve known, and have been managing down for quite some time now."
FOX Sports: "OK, and then what about the NBA teams themselves, as far as their shops at the arenas. Does the adidas product immediately — whatever’s leftover, does that get cleared out of the stores when the Nike stuff goes into effect?"
Lisa Piken Koper: "Not necessarily. The plans, again, are managed. That’s inventory that each retailer owns, including team retailers. So it’s really up to them. If at the start of the season, if they want to have a clearance rack of adidas products, they can do that. They’re not obligated to be completely clear of adidas merchandise, because again, that’s product that they bought, product that they paid for.
"Some teams have gotten pretty creative with promotions throughout the playoffs to try to move through that, but again, it’s what the plans are, it’s on a case-by-case basis. The idea is to sell as much of it to make room for the Nike product for the start of the season."
FOX Sports: "So it’s not like those championship T-shirts for the losing team that end up going to some far-away place."
Lisa Piken Koper: "No, it’s not like that at all. There will be some retailers who may be selling adidas product for quite some time, and some may be completely clean. It’s really up to them how they want to manage it."
FOX Sports: "The NBA had a partnership with Stance for the socks on-court. Is that going to continue, or does Nike take that over now?"
Lisa Piken Koper: "Stance will continue to be a partner from a licensing perspective, and will have rights to bring lifestyle socks to retail. But Nike will be the on-court sock starting next season."