Golden St Warriors Add Sleeves to Jerseys!

Written By:  •  Monday, February 11, 2013

Adidas Golden State Warriors jersey sleeves - featured

In the historic modern era of basketball, uniforms consisted of shorts and tanktops. The Golden State Warriors are busting up that tradition, by releasing an alternate uniform design whose biggest design feature is what all the rest of our shirts have; sleeves.

Adidas Golden State Warriors jersey sleeves - sleeve dark

Nice shirt, Harrison Barnes. I appreciate not seeing your pit hair.

Throughout the years, the shorts have gotten longer, socks have gone up and down with added design elements, shoes have changed wildly from the gumsole canvas to today’s virtual insanity of selections and designs. But jerseys have always been tank tops. The width of the fabric on the shoulder has changed, the material has become modernized, but the standard outline has stayed the same.

Its those modern fabrics that we have to thank for the first basketball jersey with sleeves. Adidas has made an ultra-lightweight jersey with stretchable, flexible fabric at the shoulder to prevent that bind-up you get from shooting in a traditional t-shirt.

Adidas Golden State Warriors jersey sleeves - dribble

Movement, with coverage down to the bicep

Also a part of this alternate uniform are the pinstriped shorts. Alluding to the cables of the Bay Bridge, the yellow shorts have blue vertical stripes all the way around.

Adidas Golden State Warriors jersey sleeves - shorts

Pinstriped shorts

A Warriors “W ” rests at the bottom of the short, inside the tapered side stripe. The blue makes a spear shape for the Warriors name.

But the real star and discussion point of these uniforms are the shoulder caps. The pasty, gangly-armed kid I was in the past would have really loved having these to play in when I was on the middle school team. A cotton undershirt had to due to me.

So, why haven’t you seem anyone int he NBA wearing anything under their jerseys in the past, indicating a desire for sleeves? Is it an indication that players don’t want sleeves? OF COURSE NOT! Its because the NBA has a long-standing rule that players aren’t allowed to wear anything that extends outside of their jersey’s coverage!

Patrick Ewing was far form the first player who preferred a tshirt under his jersey in college, but he was probably the most notable example. When he came into the league in 1985 (nearing 30 years ago, and due a visit from a Delorean with a Mr Fusion on top) Mr, Ewing favored a tshirt under his jersey at Georgetown, but since NBA rules would prohibit the practice, Rick Welt,  a marketing executive with the NBA looked into creating a jersey with sleeves. Technology and performance concerns made the task seem impossible, so the idea was abandoned.

patrick ewing georgetown undershirt

Ewing was deprived of the pleasure of sleeves at the pro level.

2013 brings incredible improvements in materials and construction, so Adidas took the opportunity to work with players on a sleeved jersey. In development, they heard that weight was the single most important concept for the player, so the jerseys are very light. The warriors have been using the new jerseys in practice and like that they have experienced.

But is the sleeved jersey a sea-change of basketball fashion, like longer shorts? Or a quickly busted fad like shorts in baseball?

The answer is easy to discover. Let’s see what players wear when they aren’t bound by NBA dictum;

Sleeves? Yes and yes.

Relaxing mid-practice, the Thunder sure seem to appreciate a tshirt.

Wade and Bosh practice in their tshirts.

Dwayne Wade at practice, adding sleeves by wearing a tshirt under his jersey. “But these are sporadic individual examples,” you say? Let’s continue looking.

2011 All Stars – West


The 2011 All Star game practice had quite a few shirts under jerseys. Duncan, Carmelo, Williams. The West looks almost completely sleeved here. “Well, fine, but that’s a super casual, practice before an exhibition, so it doesn’t count!” Oh, the games importance matters? Fine. I will find some definitive proof that players prefer sleeves.

Team USA 2012

Here is Team USA, 2012, full of the best NBA players, and let us gaze upon them and see how many exposed shoulders we see. Looks to me like a total of two players are rocking the no-sleeve look.

I believe this proves that a majority of players would like sleeves, if allowed, and if comfortable. If these Adidas jerseys that Golden State is debuting Feb 22nd against the Spurs are as light, flexible, and comfortable as the company and the team says, it is my prediction that these will be on 4 out of 5 players in the NBA within two seasons.

This is another in the changing landscape of basketball fashion. Fashion is indeed another consideration. The NBA sells $3 Billion dollars worth of gear, a little over 10% of which are jerseys. So, every year, around 300 million dollars of jerseys are sold. This isn’t to all people under the age of 12. Jerseys are great for game days, parties, and casual events. Some of this aren’t exactly conducive to having your pits exposed. Many jersey collectors I spoke with for this article said they were far more likely to buy jerseys with a short sleeve.

How cool will it be to look back at game photos and be able to say definitively when you see a picture, “Oh this is from 2012 or earlier, no one has any sleeves.”

The time may be right around the corner. Maybe even closer than that Delorean.

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JR Francis

JR Francis is an actor, writer, director, graphic designer, UX guru, father, comedian, and craft beer snob. You can reach him at or on Twitter @JRFrancisSLN*One of several full-time uniform reporters this site has including its founder, Chris Creamer, who started his site in 1997

  • Creussner

    When are they going to wear this new alternates?

    D12 wears a Shirt under his jersey lateley.

  • ..sleeved jerseys look great in Basketball.

    Makes me remember (in other sport: soccer) during the 2010 World Cup, FIFA didn’t let Cameroon compete with sleeveless jerseys.

    • cmk14

      2002, not 2010.

  • Jed

    The GSW really need to dump these uniforms and go back to a much cleaner look and by 2017, when they move to San Francisco, they’re eventually are going to have to change up the uniforms, but not like this. These are awful as well as their current set of unis.

    • Aaron

      When they move to San Fran, they can still keep the current uniform style. As far as these sleeve uniforms go, would’ve looked better if it were a tank top over a t-shirt.

  • Mike

    Not a terrible idea. I like the style, and the sleeves. Just find this particular get-up, with the pinstriped shorts, god-awful. Oh well, it is the Warriors after all.

  • Joe

    ok firstly…that’s clearly not Chris Bosh in the picture…and that Western Conference All-Star picture is from practice, not the actual game…yikes.

    • Fair. I didn’t look at the full sized version, and mis-identified Bosh. Fixed. The All Star game photo was indeed practice, but I added that word to the sentence, if that makes it clearer.

  • Dan

    I think this is brilliant MARKETING. As a casual fan, I’m not going to stroll around in a tank top jersey. Put sleeves on it, and I’m more inclined to buy it, as I’m more likely to wear it.

    • Excellent point. It makes for a broader range of consumers willing to wear these jerseys.

  • Joshua Snow Hansén

    I couldn’t go for all, but some, yes.

  • dont like it, but it does make more sense for teams to sell to fans

  • Joshua Snow Hansén

    More ad space too, right?

  • Attempt for Adidas to sell their flex mesh soccer jerseys as basketball gear. Keep the sleeveless jerseys! The pic of Harrison Barnes dunking in a short sleeve shirt looks ridiculous.

  • Jeff Campognone

    Fugly – looks like what I wore in rec

  • Blake Snodgrass

    Great idea as long as the sleeves don’t bunch up. But the Warriors design is just ugly. I’d modernize the look from the early ’90s RUN TMC-era.

  • Sleeves on NBA jerseys are stupid. They’re okay on college teams and before, but not in the pros.

  • Johnny Garfield

    Looks OK; don’t knock until you’ve tried it, I say. 😀

  • Marco Jose Manipon

    Let’s wait until Kobe or LeBron wears this. It’s all about influencing. It’s the Warriors, so right now it looks terrible.

  • Clearly not JR Francis

    I kind of wish all NBA jerseys at least came in a sleeved version so that the 95% of ans who look terrible wearing actual NBA jerseys can wear a version that doesn’t accentuate how badly that don’t look like decorated wife-beaters.

    • Joe

      buy a smaller jersey that will fit you better and wear it with a smaller t-shirt, problem solved.

      • John Burlie

        If only it were that simple. certain jerseys in small dont fit right (my 1997 Raptors), my Pacers Medium fits just right but its been washed and used. My 2007 Raptors Large fits the same as the Medium because it too is washed. My Nuggets and Syracuse XL’s are a little too big and I don’t wear them. Getting the smaller jersey is just less practical and when you have to clean it, its difficult to wear them again. at least the larger ones end up fitting properly, whereas all my 35 soccer jerseys all fit properly.

  • Joe Buscemi

    It can work for some teams, I’m not a huge fan but gota give it time. What I’m really not diggin are the solid top stripe pants combo. That just looks fugly. lol

  • TJ Longacre

    Stupid as hell! And I am about to be a fan of this team once the Kings move to Seattle

  • Deakesy Scott

    Stupid marketing fad that will die.

  • Hideous. Who can shoot a basketball with those tight-ass sleeves? The definition of “trying too hard”.

  • T.j. Monteiro

    I’m not mad at these.

  • Chris Luttig

    My alma mater rocked out sleeves for years until recently The Purple Aces University of Evansville Athletics Department you can’t got wrong with the sleeves!! As far as that tight sleeve comment, 1980’s college basketball check out all the Georgetown teams with skin tight t-shirts under there jerseys its didn’t stop Patrick Ewing from scoring at will.

  • My alma did as well. same as luttigs

  • Aaron

    This jersey would look better without sleeves and wouldn’t even look bad with the pinstripes to match the shorts.

  • Rob S.

    I think this style looks horrible.The main complaint is that they look far too tight!.I’m sorry don;t like to look at dudes running around in very tight outfits.Beyond that they still look strange,The NBA should just allow a team colored t-shirt underneath.

  • i like it

  • i like it

  • but i think it should be players choice maybe

  • but i think it should be players choice maybe

  • Shane A. Force

    not a fan

  • Shane A. Force

    not a fan

  • Andy

    Ordinarily I don’t like gimmicky stuff like this, but those don’t look half bad.

  • Sleeves allow for patches… more designs for anniversary logos, etc. Patches are good!

  • Andre Hicks

    The stripes were said to represent the Bay Bridge, not the Golden Gate. Since the Bay Bridge connects SF to Oakland

  • Nick

    These sleeves are fine, but the pinstriped shorts don’t go with the solid yellow jersey. Also, the yellows of the shorts and top don’t even match…

  • Z

    Why do people want to see player’s armpits so bad? I like these. Hopefully it’ll spread

  • SFforlife

    These are, quite frankly, a butchered abomination of an NBA uniform. Absolutely, godawful. Half pinstripes?????? WHY???? Sleeves???? WHY???? Weak, painted-on, front graphic? WHY? Blue trim on the shorts but not on the jers-(excuse me,) shirt? Different color yellows?These are just terrible on so many levels. The only things I do like is the collar, and the spear side panel design, which looks better than their 3 stripe look on their home and road. But even then, why are 2 kinds of blues on the spear? It doesn’t make any sense. Other than that, this design should be thrown off the Bay Bridge.

  • Steve

    Wow, So Very, Very Bad. The shorts are pinstriped and the jersey is not?!?! WTF is going on people???
    Who cares if it has sleeves!! It sucks because of that alone!!
    Remember the Memphis Grizzlies two-tone throwback uniforms from last year?

  • I’ve always been a proponent of t-shirts under basketball jerseys for a couple of reasons. One, it gives you a place to wipe off your sweat; and two, it covers up nasty armpit hair. Teams have been moving in the direction of sleeved jerseys for quite some time now, moving from traditional tank tops to muscle shirts. This is the next step in that direction. My only concern is the tightness of the sleeves. I know that tight fitting has been the “in” thing ever since Under Armour started business, but personally I can’t stand tight — especially around the armpit area. Plus I’ve always thought that the tight fitting NCAA muscle shirts look goofy with loose fitting shorts. At any rate, I think this will be around for at least the next decade in some form.

  • elmo10

    The jersey is pretty cool! I would wear one around, but I’m not digging the shorts that much!

  • Pod

    I really like the sleeves! The jersey looks mostly great, and so do the pinstriped shorts. On paper, pinstriped shorts with a solid top sounds awful, but I think this really works and that it all looks really sharp!

    My #1 complaint would be the wordmark. I hate the font they use (it’s a decent font, it just looks stupid on a pro basketball wordmark). If they went with the Run-TMC-era font, or just something else less generic than what they use, it would look even better. Despite that, I’m digging this, and I’m interested in seeing what other teams will do with their sleeved jerseys.

  • Loving them! The Dubs are rocking and rolling this year. This should help.

  • I hope that other teams catch on. This would look like a compression tee on LeBron and KD.

  • Joe

    saw the pictures on the Warriors’ website, the upper & lower gold/yellow’s aren’t even close to matching, this won’t last.

  • ingmar66

    First of all, sleeves take away the opportunity to show off intimidating biceps tattoos. Second, this is not new: back in the fourties and fifties lots of college teams wore sleeves and, as mentioned above, the Evansville Purple Aces wore sleeves until some years ago. Third, I suspect adidas is looking for a soccer/basketball crossover. The soccer DNA runs so deep in this company, the next step will be low cut shoes with soft rubber studs. Fourth, wearing a t-shirt under a traditional basketball jersey should be allowed by FIBA, NBA, IOC, etcetera. Traditional jerseys look cool, feel fine (as long as they are not the nipple burning kind) and it should be a freedom of choice to wear an undershirt yes or no. Fifth: this combi is not working for me. The entire set should have pinstripes or should be plain. This plain/striped combi reminds me too much of clowns and carnivals. And I am very allergic to clowns. They are evil.

  • ingmar66

    Oh, I forgot, these sleeves are too tight and seriously ugly. They look like bicycle shirts. And not comfortable at all. Look at the pictures above what the pro players prefer: wide sleeves. And so do I

  • John Pat Sher

    I actually prefer the sleeves. It makes the shirts look much cleaner.

  • Marcus

    I like how they incorporated a spear into their design on the shorts, to me it also resembles a feather on the side of the shorts.

  • SAM

    Nobody’s mentioned the St. Louis Bombers of the ’40s? They were a rare exception to the “jerseys were always tank tops” thing. Just thought I’d bring that up.

  • This could open up the avenue for NBA teams to have hockey-esque shoulder logos!

  • Jeti Mar

    Will the Warriors be on 10-speed bikes on game day against their opponents when they wear these?

  • dustyman

    sadly more and more teams are probably gonna start to do this in my opinion i hate these when i played in high school i wore a tight tank top tee shirt so idk

  • Justin

    I think these look cool.

    As a casual basketball fan, I’d never buy a current jersey to wear. This though? I can get behind these.

    Also, everyone is saying its going to be too tight. Well, almost every baseball player these days wears those compression sleeves, and they seem to be able to hit and throw just fine. I’d be curious to see a survey taken of NBA players to find out what they prefer.

    Clearly, as the photos of NBA practices show, as college basketball has shown, players don’t mind sleeves. So why would they mind this?

  • David

    Dwight Howard has been wearing a t-shirt under his Laker’s jersey recently. Picture from a recent game.

  • Darius

    Basketball jerseys are sleeveless for definition. Like the Home team wear light/white jerseys and Road team wear dark/colored ones. Please NBA do not cancel every good tradition in the name of marketing.

  • Anairda

    The most terrible idea; we play BASKETBALL, not SOCCER; I don’t know how many years will be Adidas in the NBA, but whe need Nike or Jordan in this game; this look terrible -__-