Some of you will remember my post from this summer about better championship hardware. I was pleasantly surprised when the NBA announced a change to their jerseys to reflect championship pedigree, simlar to what national soccer teams do to reflect world cup wins. But after watching the product in action this season, I think they need to tweak the concept a bit. You see, everyone on a team that's won a title gets the patch. So everyone on the Bulls gets patches. That's right - the last time the Bulls won the title, MJ was hitting basketball shots in Utah, not golf shots. You see the disconnect - it cheapens the meaning of the notch.
Thankfully, this problem can be rectified, and the jerseys made cooler, very easily.
First, have multiple notches represent multiple titles. Second, only give players credit for championships that they have participated in on their current teams. So Kobe gets five notches, Wade three, and Dirk one, but LeBron doesn't get any - he won his titles in Miami.
Alternatively, you could award players notches for all titles they won, regardless of team. I like the approach slightly better, since the NBA is a player-driven league - I don't think people care as much where LeBron won his titles as the fact that he won some at all. And for his teammates, it may be a cool reminder that this guy has been there - he knows what it takes to get a notch. Paul Gasol would walk into a Bulls game with his two notches while Joakim Noah still has to earn one. And in terms of individual jersey sales, this would be a meaningful way to differentiate between jerseys - a LeBron Cavaliers jersey with two notches compared to his earlier ones which have none.
That differentiating effect also serves to date jerseys, which is a good thing. Think of a notch-less Dirk jersey as a pair of vintage Jordans. Someone who sports one of those is a true fan, a throwback to those that believed in the big German before he was "validated" with a title. Fans could compare their Duncan jerseys - do you have the one, two, three, four, or five notch version? It would instantly elevate old jerseys into collectible status, which increases the value of all jerseys.
So kudos to the NBA for coming up with a unique way to recognize championships, which are hard-earned. Just a little more creativity could make this something truly awesome.
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