Some Interesting News About NBA Officials’ Unis

I recently heard from a source I trust, who had some interesting information about how the NBA’s Adidas-to-Nike changeover will affect the referees and the referees’ uniforms. Here’s what he had to say:

I was speaking to an NBA official and asked him/her several questions about uniforms and referee numbers. I will use male pronouns here, even though the NBA officiating corps includes Lauren Holtkamp.

In no particular order:

1) I asked the official about the changeover from Adidas to Nike and he was very excited about it. He said he has not seen the new uniforms but that Nike will provide them with the jersey and their pants. In the past, Adidas gave them the jersey but the officials were responsible for getting their own pants (often from Smitty’s or Honig’s). The pants had to be flat-front with western-cut pockets. The official said that the new pants will have the Nike logo on them, perhaps on the front of the hip. [The current pants do not have a maker’s mark. — PL]

2) Nike will also provide the officials with undergarments — compression shirts, compression shorts, socks, etc. Adidas has not provided these. The officials will not be required to wear the Nike base layers under their uniforms, but they can if they want to without having to buy their own. The official I spoke with said they will also be given a discount to buy other merch at the Nike headquarters.

3) Apparently there are a few unwritten rules when it comes to the system used for the officials’ uniform numbers:

•  When officials make it onto the full-time staff, they are assigned a number without any choice. For example, if three spots are open, then the three new officials will be assigned the three open numbers in alphabetical order.

•  If a number becomes available, other officials can request to change to that open number. In the case of multiple requests for the same number, the official with the most seniority will get the number.

•  There is no set rule on this, but the lower numbers tend to be “reserved” for the veteran officials. It’s considered bad form for a young official to request a low number, because it gives off a sense of arrogance and not knowing one’s place. At the same time, however, there are some veteran officials who choose to stay with the high numbers they were assigned when they started.

• This was the first season after the legendary Joey Crawford retired. His No. 17 was left unused as a gesture of respect. The official I spoke to said that if someone requests 17, he thinks the league will ask Joey for his approval.

4) I didn’t completely understand all the specifics on this, but the official I spoke with said there’s no way that all the officials would be able to wear the same brand of shoe. Everyone’s feet are different and the officials do so much running that shoes are critical to their health and well-being, so shoes end up being a very personalized choice.

All very interesting. Disappointing to hear that logo creep will be extending to the refs’ pants, but at least the refs won’t be wearing corporate advertising patches like the players will. Actually, that raises a good point: Are there any sports/leagues where the officials wear advertising?

Update: A few minutes after today’s entry was posted, I received this tweet (and there are additional examples showing up in today’s comments):

•  •  •  •  •

LAST CALL for the bowling shirt tee: Today is the last day to order our awesome bowling shirt-themed T-shirt, designed by the great Scott M.X. Turner. I won’t belabor the point with lots of text or images here — you know what to do.

Meanwhile, I’ve created a new page that lists and summarizes all of our various merchandise projects — the shirts, the socks, the mugs, the wristwatches, the works. Check that out here. The “Merchandise” tab on the site’s menu bar will now link to that page.

•  •  •  •  •

The Ticker
By Mike Chamernik

Baseball News: The Big Red Machine had radially arched NOBs, but statues at the Reds Hall of Fame show some players with vertically arched names (from Brice Wallace). … The Chicago Fire’s Bastian Schweinsteiger’s appeared at Wrigley Field the other night, and the Cubs managed to fit his 14-letter surname a jersey by using smaller-than-usual NOB lettering. The White Sox did the same thing in March (from @NotHotTakes). … OF Josh Reddick bought his clubhouse an Astros title belt, which will be awarded to the player of the game each night. … The Biloxi Shuckers will wear puzzle piece jerseys in July to support a local autism support facility (from Zach Loesl). … Yankees DH Matt Holliday has been wearing one batting glove. That style used to be common decades ago, but in recent years only one player has done it regularly: Giants OF Hunter Pence. … Several readers have noted that the Yankees appear to have uni number stickers on their cap underbrims this season. “That makes sense to me, because you could write your number in black sharpie back when the underbrims were green or grey, but you can’t do that with the current black underbrims,” says Doug Robb.

Pro Football News: Several Ravens players have changed their jersey numbers (from Andrew Cosentino). … New number assignments for Titans rookies, too (from Eric Wright). … The widow of former Chargers lineman Terry Owens asked Gene Sanny to draw a portrait of him. Owens died of CTE in 2012. … In 1978, Calgary Stampeders receiver Willie Armstead had his TV numbers below his sleeve stripes, unlike the rest of his teammates (from Johnny Garfield).

College Football News: This Eastern Kentucky helmet has the school’s “E” logo sculpted into the facemask (from @ACC_Tracker). … Dreamstyle Remodeling bought the naming rights to the University of New Mexico’s football and basketball venues. University Stadium will be known as Dreamstyle Stadium, and The Pit will now be Dreamstyle Arena (from Joel Mathwig). … Auburn blogger Clint Richardson has some thoughts on whether the team will be wearing a 125th-anniversary patch this season.

Hockey News: The Penguins called up G Sean Maguire from the AHL for Game 4 last night. As you can see toward the bottom of this listing, they gave him No. 0 — the first such number assignment in team history — but he was a healthy scratch (from @redbuppy). … Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury has a mask with some of his favorite teammates’ names on it. Earlier this season he wrote in the name of Matt Niskanen, who played with Pittsburgh from 2010 to 2014 but now plays with the Capitals. As you may know, the other night in Game 3 of the Penguins-Caps series, Niskanen knocked Sidney Crosby out of the game (and maybe the playoffs), delivering a cross-check that gave Crosby a concussion. In response, Fleury taped over Niskanen’s name (from Rick Chaus). … One more Penguins item: The team’s helmet numbers don’t match the font of the jersey numbers. … The Hearst Lumberjacks, a new junior hockey team, designed their logo to look like Claude Giroux, who grew up in the town (from Chris Ashworth).

NBA News: The Pistons are continuing to tease their yet-to-be-released retro-themed logo. The team indicated that they may have new logos for next season, when they move to downtown Detroit (from Conrad Burry).

College Hoops News: Xavier will introduce a new court design next season. The previous one had a silhouette of the Cincinnati skyline along the sideline (from Kevin Hastings). … Nike revealed the new University of Michigan Jordan V “Fab Five” retro sneakers (from Jorge Cruz).

Soccer News: Atletico wore black against Real Madrid the other day. They were told they couldn’t wear their usual red-and-white, even though they wore the unis against Real Madrid in two Champions League finals (from Rod Dunn). … New uniforms and advertiser for Lansing United of the NPSL (from Ed Å»elaski”). … Also from Ed: Hertha BSC is letting fans vote on the design for the team’s 125th-anniversary jersey. … Rafters FC of the NPSL will wear home building jerseys next Wednesday (from Phil).

Grab Bag: A Brazilian photographer is trying to create a “human Pantone” project by documenting every skin color in the world (from David Sonny). … In addition to the singlet, high school wrestlers will now have the option of wearing a two-piece uniform consisting of a compression shirt and shorts (from Sam Riesen). … The hockey-themed rock band the Zambonis are teaming up with the baseball-themed rock band Vista Blue to raising funds to create a split 7″ single featuring each band doing a new song about curling. … Here are the logo changes of 10 Milwaukee institutions from over the years.

66 comments to Some Interesting News About NBA Officials’ Unis

  • Rob S | May 4, 2017 at 7:53 am |

    Advertising on referees’ uniforms? European hockey comes to mind.

  • Martin | May 4, 2017 at 7:54 am |

    German Beko BBL now Easy Credit BBL a few years ago. German Basketball League. Advertising on the front and back.

  • DenverGregg | May 4, 2017 at 7:57 am |

    First item in college football looks like a mashup of two items

  • BurghFan | May 4, 2017 at 7:58 am |

    “will now link this that page.”

  • Jeff | May 4, 2017 at 8:08 am |

    Officials in the National Rugby League & Australian Football League (the two major winter codes in Australia) both wear advertising.

    Advertising on uniforms, goalposts, even the match balls is rampant here.

  • Dumb Guy | May 4, 2017 at 8:16 am |

    “…the Yankees appear to have uni number stickers on their cap underbrims this season. “That makes sense to me, because you could write your number in black sharpie back when the underbrims were green or grey, but you can’t do that with the current black underbrims,”

    Really?? Is there no other place on/in a cap to write a number?? Or is the underbrim the only “cool” place to put it these days?

    • Jon Rose | May 4, 2017 at 8:24 am |

      Silver Sharpie works great on a black underbrim.

      • BoSoxer | May 4, 2017 at 8:59 am |

        I thought the same thing, actually I’ve used a silver sharpie on my children’s LL hats!!

        • Josh | May 4, 2017 at 11:42 am |

          Same here.
          I coach my sons’ teams, and when I get the uniforms from the league, I write each player’s name in silver sharpie under the bill before I issue the hats to the team.

      • marc | May 4, 2017 at 9:07 am |

        First thing that popped into my head too!

  • Dumb Guy | May 4, 2017 at 8:18 am |

    “This Eastern Kentucky helmet has the school’s “E” logo sculpted into the facemask ”

    That’s GOT to be for SHOW not for GO. Right?
    I wouldn’t what that “E” getting smashed into MY face on a big hit.

    • Paul Lukas | May 4, 2017 at 8:32 am |

      Yes, just a one-off display piece.

  • Mangler | May 4, 2017 at 8:53 am |

    “a new court design next season, which will replace the court ‘with a silhouette of the Cincinnati skyline'”: ?

    “a new court design next season, which will replace ‘the court with a silhouette of the Cincinnati skyline'”: Oh. Never mind.

    New name for New Mexico basketball arena: Will people still be calling it “The Pit”? And will the court still be named for Bob King, who coached the Lobos from 1962-1972?

    • Shane | May 4, 2017 at 8:58 am |

      The smartass in me is wondering why you’d incorporate a plate of chili into a court design.

      • marc | May 4, 2017 at 4:19 pm |

        I saw what you did there.

    • Mike Chamernik | May 4, 2017 at 9:49 am |

      I fixed the wording on the Xavier court item to make it much less confusing. My bad! I sometimes try to put way too much info into just once sentence.

      As for The Pit, the last few years it was officially known as the WisePies Arena (aka The Pit). That’s just silly.

  • Random reader | May 4, 2017 at 8:53 am |

    The stickers with​ player numbers is something the Mets and Yankees have used since last year I believe.

  • Mangler | May 4, 2017 at 8:54 am |

    “a new court design next season, which will replace the court ‘with a silhouette of the Cincinnati skyline'”: ?

    “replace ‘the court with a silhouette of the Cincinnati skyline'”: Oh. Never mind.

    New name for New Mexico basketball arena: Will people still be calling it “The Pit”? And will the court still be named for Bob King, who coached the Lobos from 1962-1972?

    • Rex Henry (acc tracker) | May 4, 2017 at 9:56 am |

      1. Maybe it’s a silhouette/outline of a pile of Skyline Chili. Think Oregon’s court, but gassy.

      2. New Mexico court name should stay the same, but don’t be alarmed when you see that shit logo added to an empty space.

      3. #ImStillcallingItThePit

  • Rob S | May 4, 2017 at 8:54 am |

    Regarding the Penguins’ items…

    Interestingly, while Section 3, rule 9.2 does specifically prohibit 00 (along with decimals, fractions, and three-digit numbers), the rule doesn’t actually explicitly prohibit the single-digit 0. Still, it remains to be seen if the number will actually appear, since he hasn’t dressed for a game for Pittsburgh yet. (Of note, his minor-league jersey numbers were 29 with Wheeling and 50 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Obviously, 29 is out, though based on his twitter handle, he’d probably prefer his college number of 31 anyway.)

    As for the helmet numbers, while they’re still in the style from the retired Vegas gold era, the use of the Pittsburgh gold outline actually replicates the 1996-2002 black Robopenguin jerseys’ numbers. Still, gotta wonder why they didn’t just update them to reflect the number style currently worn on the jerseys.

    • Rob S | May 4, 2017 at 9:56 am |

      Another note – the Stanley Cup banners on the back of Fleury’s mask are the old-style, introduced following the Pens’ 2009 Cup win.

      Current banners
      Previous banners (the style on Fleury’s mask)
      And, of course, the original 1991 and 1992 tri-banners which included their division and conference playoff championships.

      • Rob S | May 4, 2017 at 10:02 am |

        Another thing to add to that – the 2015-16 banner on Fleury’s mask appears to be rendered with Vegas gold, which makes sense from the viewpoint that it was still their official color at the time, and as they hoisted the Cup on the road, they were in the Vegas gold-trimmed jerseys. However, the actual 2016 banner, as linked above, uses Pittsburgh gold (a.k.a. “athletic” gold, or yellow for the more pedantic among us).

    • cm | May 4, 2017 at 10:19 am | just uses 0 as a placeholder for guys who haven’t been assigned a number yet. You see that a lot when guys are first called up and during the preseason:

    • Wade Heidt | May 4, 2017 at 6:56 pm |

      Because of the rules these days, I guess we can consider John Davidson’s 00 New York Rangers jersey number retired.

  • Silver Creek Dawg | May 4, 2017 at 8:55 am |

    Soccer/football referees in almost every major professional league wear advertising on their uniforms. Most of the advertising is based on the sleeves.

  • Shane | May 4, 2017 at 8:55 am |

    I haven’t got to watch a lot of the EPL this season, but I seem to remember refs used to have an EA Sports patch on a sleeve. Or maybe an airline?

    • MJ | May 4, 2017 at 9:35 am |

      Used to be Air Asia a couple of years back.

    • Josh | May 4, 2017 at 9:36 am |

      Yeah the EPL refs have the EA Sports patch on a sleeve

  • Clevo | May 4, 2017 at 9:01 am |

    That’s the Reds HOF, not the BBHOF

    • Paul Lukas | May 4, 2017 at 9:04 am |

      Thanks for that. Text now adjusted.

  • Wade Heidt | May 4, 2017 at 9:10 am |

    Proofread in pro football news. “Calgary Stampeders reciever…”

  • Rob S | May 4, 2017 at 9:16 am |

    Weird that the Hearst Lumberjacks used stock images of retail Giroux Flyers jerseys for their mock-ups, particularly the choice of jerseys – this season’s anniversary jersey, and the 2007-10 black jersey. They didn’t even bother editing out the NHL logo on the collars.

    Still, those mock-ups were from a few weeks ago. It seems that this will be their white jersey going forward, based on the Flyers’ current white jersey. Note that it does not have the NHL logo on the collar, and that it has an additional orange outline on the logo.

  • Youppi! | May 4, 2017 at 9:27 am |

    “then the three new officials will be assigned the three open numbers in alphabetical order.”

    Wouldn’t they be assigned numerically? – that would be strange to assign numbers alphabetically.

    • Tom | May 4, 2017 at 9:58 am |

      Alphabetically by the referee’s names, is how I read it.

      So new refs named Smith, Jones, and Adams with open numbers 65, 75, 85 would be assigned:

      Adams – 65
      Jones – 75
      Smith – 85

  • Don G | May 4, 2017 at 9:36 am |

    Saw this gem on Shorpy. 1895-ish Washington Senators player portrait. Great detail on the uni including quilted pants (!!) and a front pocket on the jersey.

    • Dumb Guy | May 4, 2017 at 11:04 am |

      Thanks for pushing me into the Shorpy rabbit hole!

  • Mike D | May 4, 2017 at 10:00 am |

    MLS officials have ads on their sleeves too I believe.

    • Wade Heidt | May 4, 2017 at 7:06 pm |

      I cannot recall seeing ads on the sleeves of referees in MLS action. Would need to see corroborating evidence in terms of a photo.

  • Steven | May 4, 2017 at 10:15 am |

    Glad to see refs getting free pants and discounts on under stuffs. Whenever I read articles about refs I feel like they get the short end of the stick compared to players and other people associated with these billion dollar sports leagues.

    • Paul Lee | May 5, 2017 at 5:32 am |

      I remember that there was a ref (NBA or NFL) who cashed in his first class tickets then flew coach.

  • Andrew Holt | May 4, 2017 at 10:29 am |

    On the penguins helmet numbers, I know that the blackhawks numbers are the same way.

  • James | May 4, 2017 at 10:50 am |

    You may have linked to this article in 2015 about referees’ difficulty in finding black shoes,

    I believe you can still design your own shoes from a couple of shoe companies and that might be the refs only solution if they can’t buy these off the shelf.

  • Nate | May 4, 2017 at 11:33 am |

    I don’t have a screen grab, unfortunately, but in last night’s Red Sox-Orioles game, Ubaldo Jimenez warmed up in the bullpen wearing a hoodie. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. Maybe that’s a common thing for him? It looked odd.

    • Paul Lukas | May 4, 2017 at 11:47 am |

      Nate, Jimenez entered the game at the start of the 6th inning — so I assume they showed him in the 5th?

      Were you watching the Boston broadcast or the Baltimore broadcast?

  • Bob Sullivan | May 4, 2017 at 12:20 pm |

    Article on Fleury’s mask states: “Initially, Fleury wanted yellow wire for his cage, but Bergeron suggested black — so the netminder will be trying out that color scheme to see if it affects his vision on the ice.”

    Most goalie cages I know of (including mine) are painted a different color on the inside. Mine is black on the outside, white on the inside. Makes looking through it less distracting, since it essentially matches the ice color.

  • mild bill | May 4, 2017 at 12:30 pm |

    That Calgary receiver also had a peculiar face mask. Looks like one that would be worn by a lineman. It also did not seem to extend very far.

  • David A. | May 4, 2017 at 1:05 pm |

    Re: One batting glove. FWIW, Madison Bumgarner also rocks this style.

  • JamesBN3 | May 4, 2017 at 2:00 pm |

    Re ads on officials – they’re standard in international rugby. Even in the World Cup which prohibits ads on players and regulates the size and placement of maker’s marks and team badges, has “Fly Emirates” on the referee and linesmen.

  • Brent | May 4, 2017 at 2:06 pm |

    I think people are going to keep calling it The Pit. Especially since it was named by the locals anyway.

  • DJ | May 4, 2017 at 2:14 pm |

    They were told they couldn’t wear their usual red-and-white, even though they wore the unis against Real Madrid in two Champions League finals

    They got permission from then-UEFA head Michel Platini to wear their regular uniforms in the Finals. Platini has an old-school aesthetic sensibility; he was fine with Atléti wearing their preferred uniforms on the big occasion; they contrasted sufficiently with Real’s all-white strip.

    If memory serves, they usually wear their regular uniforms in La Liga matches against Real no matter the venue.

  • maks | May 4, 2017 at 3:01 pm |

    “A Brazilian photographer is trying to create a “human Pantone” project by documenting every skin color in the world (from David Sonny)” link doesnt work, goes to a 404 error. :(

  • Ryan M | May 4, 2017 at 3:37 pm |

    I think it was a Spurs/Clippers game I was watching earlier this season in which both teams were wearing alternates (so, gray vs. black) when it occurred to me that NBA should consider adopting alternate shirts for the refs, the way (I think) many soccer leagues do. Or make them zebras again.

  • Mark in Shiga | May 5, 2017 at 3:03 am |

    I’m looking at the jersey the Cubs made for Bastian Schweinsteiger, and not only is the NOB slightly smaller (they should all be this size!), but the “3” is not cut correctly. On the real jerseys, the 3 is slightly rounder than the 8. There were several small modifications to the distinctive Cubs’ number font in the 1940s to 1960s and back then the 6, 8, 9, and 0 had varying degrees of roundedness; now only the 3 is rounder and the other four are more squarish.

    I often see this too-square 3 on fake jerseys. I always thought that teams used real game jerseys and their standard number cutters when they made these jerseys for celebrities. Are they actually outsourcing it to some cheaper, sloppier place?

  • Arron Swink | May 5, 2017 at 11:11 am |

    Sometimes the jokes write themselves. Officials in the Scottish Premiership wear advertising for Specsavers – an optical retail chain!

  • GTV | May 5, 2017 at 2:22 pm |

    That in fact WAS the best click I’ll make all day. Just great photos. Makes me want to visit NYC.

    • Paul Lukas | May 5, 2017 at 2:51 pm |

      Trust me, it doesn’t look like that anymore!