The Heat officially unveiled their “Heat Culture” City uniforms yesterday. The jersey design was no surprise, because it had leaked almost a month earlier, but it was interesting to see that the uniform includes uni-numbered shorts.
That’s no small thing, as Heat chief marketing officer Michael McCullough explained in a very good interview with Martenzie Johnson of Andscape. Here’s the key section where McCullough talked about the shorts:
You haven’t seen numerals on an NBA short in probably 40 to 50 years. It is not a thing that the league does anymore. It’s not a thing that Nike likes to do. … The single biggest reason is because it’s a massive headache for equipment managers, and it’s a massive headache for manufacturers, because when the team travels and Jimmy [Butler] tears his shorts or gets blood on his shorts, the equipment manager’s got to go and get another pair of shorts. But if he has to carry specific shorts for each player, specifically, because [Butler’s] numbers are on there, that creates a challenge for an equipment manager.
It is a significant cost. I’ll give you an idea. The last couple of years when we made a commitment to have different numerals for the Mashup uniform [for which each player got to choose his own number fonts], that meant we had to have the No. 1 in all the different numeral styles that we were offering, the No. 2 in all the different numeral styles that we’re offering. That alone for the Mashup campaign the last two years was over a $350,000 commitment on our part. This one is not as high because it’s the same numeral style that we’re offering [on each player’s shorts]. So the financial commitment isn’t as high, but the manpower commitment is still very significant because we are buying more shorts than we’ve ever purchased before.
Nike didn’t want anything to do with it. And this is no shade on Nike. Again, their process is they have 30 NBA teams that they’re cranking out uniforms for and shorts, and to try to create a certain number of shorts for No. 22, a certain number of shorts for No. 14, a certain number of shorts for No. 13, that is not part of their process. So they were like, “We can’t do it.” And we said, “You know what? We’ll do it.”
Interesting! McCullough went on to credit the team’s equipment manager, Robert Pimental, for making it all work.
The entire interview with McCullough is worth checking out. You can read it here.
Meanwhile, I have no idea which NBA team was the last to use uni-numbered shorts. Anyone..?