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From Sewn to Slam Dunk: The Evolution of NBA Basketball Jersey Manufacturers

August 19, 2023 2 min read

From Sewn to Slam Dunk: The Evolution of NBA Basketball Jersey Manufacturers

Basketball, with its electrifying plays and global fanbase, has made a lasting impact on the world of sports. Central to this cultural phenomenon are the jerseys worn by NBA players, which have undergone significant changes over the years. In this blog post, we will take a journey through time to explore the history of basketball jersey manufacturers in the NBA.

The Early Days: Homemade Jerseys

When the NBA was founded in 1946 as the Basketball Association of America (BAA), players often wore homemade jerseys. These early jerseys were basic and far from standardized. Each player was responsible for providing their own jersey, resulting in a wide variety of styles, colors, and designs.

Wilson Sporting Goods: Pioneering the Manufacturing Game

In the late 1940s, Wilson Sporting Goods became one of the first companies to provide standardized basketball jerseys for NBA teams. Wilson introduced innovations such as lightweight fabrics and breathable materials. This marked a significant step towards consistency and professionalism in the NBA.

The Sand-Knit Era: A New Player in Town

The 1970s saw the emergence of Sand-Knit as a major player in NBA jersey manufacturing. Sand-Knit, which later became Champion, brought polyester into the mix, making jerseys more durable and comfortable. Their jerseys featured distinctive designs and became iconic during the era of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Dr. J.

The Champion Era: Dominance in Design

Champion, formerly known as Sand-Knit, continued to dominate the market through the 1980s and 1990s. Their jerseys featured bold colors, large team logos, and unique fonts. Champion jerseys became a symbol of the NBA, with many fans still nostalgic for these classic designs.

The Nike Era: Revolutionizing NBA Jerseys

In 2017, Nike took over as the official provider of NBA jerseys. This partnership marked a significant shift in jersey manufacturing. Nike introduced innovations like the NikeConnect app, allowing fans to access exclusive content through their jerseys. Additionally, the NBA and Nike prioritized sustainability by using recycled materials in jersey production.

Statement Jerseys and Earned Editions: Embracing Creativity

Under Nike's stewardship, the NBA introduced special jerseys like "Statement Jerseys" and "Earned Editions." These jerseys allowed teams to showcase unique designs and colorways, often paying homage to their cities or historic moments. This move added a creative and fan-focused dimension to NBA jerseys.

The Jordan Brand Era: A Legendary Collaboration

In 2020, the NBA announced a groundbreaking partnership with the Jordan Brand. This collaboration brought the iconic Jumpman logo to NBA jerseys, creating a bridge between basketball's past and present. The Jordan Brand represents not only Michael Jordan but also the history and culture of the sport.


The history of NBA basketball jersey manufacturers reflects the evolution of the league itself. From homemade jerseys to high-tech, sustainable uniforms, these garments have evolved to meet the changing needs of players and fans. Today, NBA jerseys are not only a symbol of the sport but also a canvas for creativity and innovation. As the league continues to grow and adapt, so too will the jerseys that have become an integral part of its identity.

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