Nike Unveils New Basketball Uniforms

The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 7, 2007; 1:26 AM

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Players from four elite basketball universities will be hitting the court this week with distinctly different Nike uniforms that showcase their upper bodies _ and a little less leg.

Nike unveiled the new line of basketball uniforms Tuesday. They are being introduced for the University of Florida, Ohio State University, University of Arizona and Syracuse University. The shoe and apparel giant plans to start introducing personalized uniforms to all its NCAA-Nike partner schools beginning next fall.

The new look is decidedly different. The jerseys are tighter and the shorts are longer and baggier. And players have an option of "personalizing" their look with aerodynamic underlayer tops and leggings.

Nike says the look creates a "dramatic new silhouette" and responds to player requests.

"Our guys are really excited and fired up to wear them," said Richard Paige, a spokesman for the University of Arizona team. "Nike really went above and beyond, as least as it relates to our guys, to make sure their input was taken very seriously."

The form-fitting jerseys and the baggier shorts are made of a lightweight breathable material, Nike said. Beneath the shorts and jerseys, players will have of a choice of wearing long, short-sleeve or sleeveless Nike compression tops and padded compression shorts and leggings. The sleek shape of the underlayer resembles the design of Nike's competitor, Under Armour.

Nike said players had told the company they were looking for ways to personalize their look, which some college players already do with tops under their jerseys.

Nike says the padded compression shorts provide support for hamstrings, hips and calves. It is the first time the company has provided a padded base layer for basketball.

The company's last major overhaul for basketball uniforms came in the 1990s for the University of Michigan. A group of freshman players there known as the "Fab Five" headed to the NCAA Tournament final with baggy shorts, black shoes and short socks _ an unusual look at the time that was quickly adopted.

The new tailored look will be debuted this week by Arizona, Ohio State and Syracuse at their respective conference tournaments. The University of Florida wore theirs, minus the underlayers which weren't ready yet, at a Feb. 27 game against Tennessee.

All four powerhouse basketball programs get a nod to their past in the design.

Names of players who went on to the Hall of Fame are on the uniforms. Some lettering and insignia are throwbacks to earlier days.

The uniform for Syracuse University, for example, has large color blocking on the shorts, reminiscent of the 1970s Syracuse Orangemen. The shirt has a "BSB" insignia over the heart, borrowed from the first Syracuse basketball logo created for the team in 1900.

Other details include an alligator scale pattern worked into the University of Florida uniforms and a LeBron James insignia on Ohio State's. James has said he would have attended Ohio State if he hadn't gone directly to the pros.

The company did not disclose the cost or value of the launch. Consumer versions of the new line will be available for fans to purchase.

© 2007 The Associated Press