Basketball players want to perform their best and look good doing it. “It gets cold in the arena, so we want to keep our heads warm and still be able to pay attention to the game, or warm up and stay warm,” says Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal. “At the same time, we want to be in something with swag and style.”
But typically, performance and looks take a backseat to comfort when it comes to pre-game gear. “We saw guys warming up in standard team-issued hooded sweatshirts,” says Kurt Parker, Nike VP of Apparel Design. “The hood flopped around when they shot; the sleeves were baggy.”
That got Nike Basketball designers wondering why most players wear non-performance hoodies to warm-up, practice hard, sit on the bench and travel in. "When the players take the court before the game, they need to be able to move freely in any direction, so they usually take the hoodie off or cut off the sleeves," says Parker. The answer the designers were looking for was clear: Nothing like what the players expressed they wanted existed.
Armed with this athlete insight, Nike went to work on designing the first performance hooded jacket for NBA players to wear on the court during warm-up. Here's why this is not only a first-of-its-kind garment, but a huge step forward for performance basketball apparel.
THE MATERIAL IS BRAND NEW. To make a performance jacket that’s comfortable, Nike created a new material called Nike Therma Flex. It’s similar to a mid-weight fleece, but inverted. “A typical fleece is fuzzy on the inside and flat on the outside, but we made this flat against the skin and super-soft on the outside,” says Parker. “The outside has a dotted texture to it that traps body heat in the fabric, and it’s soft to the touch and smooth against the skin.” So far, the Showtime Warm-Up Jacket is the only product that uses Nike Therma Flex, but the designers say there are plans to create more player and fan gear with it in the coming months.