Why NBA Players Are Excited About Nike’s Tech-Infused Jerseys and the Sneakers They’ll Wear This Season

The excitement surrounding Nike’s tech-infused NBA uniforms, featuring access to the brand’s real-time interactive NikeConnect digital platform, isn’t limited to hoops fans eager to rock their favorite player’s new jersey. The pros who wear them on the court are equally thrilled.

“It’s great to be able to interact with the fans. Being accessible, being able to allow people to understand who we are, is fun,” Mike Conley, star guard for the Memphis Grizzlies, explained to Footwear News.

But the jersey’s ability to give fans a personalized experience that is activated through a jock tag on the jersey (as well as a smartphone, and the NikeConnect and Nike+ mobile apps) isn’t the lone reason for Conley’s elation.

Nike NBA Jersey
The NikeConnect jock tag on the new NBA jerseys.

“It feels like I’m not wearing anything most of the time, it feels like an undershirt almost, like I should put my jersey on now,” he said. “You don’t want to worry about your jersey is sagging because its wet, and I think Nike took that into consideration and improved on that.”

For the basketball player, Nike designed the jerseys with a sleek look that the athletes desire, as well as the ability to stay cool, dry and mobile.

Conley was one of 30 players Nike dressed in the uniforms for a media event on Friday at Sony Studios in Los Angeles. Also at the event was the Toronto Raptors’ three-time NBA All-Star Demar DeRozan, who praised the brand for creating this innovation.

“It’s amazing. Whoever thought of that is a genius. It’s dope to be able to give that type of content out on your jersey,” DeRozan told FN.

For the fan, Nike equipped the jerseys (which hit stores Sept. 29) with a tag on the bottom boasting a NFC chip that launches an experience specific to the player’s name on the jersey. With a scan of the tag, the wearer can see through his or her phone the player’s pre-game arrival footage, highlight packages, news from around the league, and also have the ability to buy from a curated product offering, which includes sneakers.

Also at the event, DeRozan, who wears looks from the Kobe Bryant signature franchise, and Conley, who wears Air Jordans, shared insights about the kicks fans will see them wear on the court throughout the season.

“We’re going to have a couple surprises this year, a couple PEs [player editions],” DeRozan said. “[And] something special is going to come together at some point during the season with me and one of the Kobe shoes. I ain’t going to say what number, but it’s one of the retro Kobe shoes.”

Air Jordan XXXII Mike Conley NBA Nike
The Air Jordan XXXII that Mike Conley wore at the Nike NBA jersey unveil in Los Angeles.
CREDIT: Peter Verry

Conley also confirmed he will have Grizzlies-inspired colorways of the Air Jordan XXXII, and explained why he’s excited to wear it in meaningful game action.

“The structure of the [Air Jordan] XXXII feels solid, like you’re not worried about what’s on your feet, you just go out there and play,” he said. “I think that’s what they’re trying to accomplish is to not worry if your shoes are too bulky or too light or too heavy; it just feels perfect for you to go out there and hoop. It’s a hoopers shoe.”

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