SBJ/September 1 - 7, 2003/This Weeks Issue

More NBA clubs will go retro

The NBA plans to expand its Hardwood Classics line of merchandise during the coming season as the league and licensing partner Reebok look to increase sales of the retro-inspired uniforms.

Sales of the uniforms and related merchandise have increased 51 percent this year from 2002, according to NBA officials, though they declined to provide exact sales totals. Driving the sales efforts for the future will be an increased number of teams taking part in promotions that the league and Reebok have dubbed Hardwood Classics Nights.

Last season, eight teams participated in the Hardwood Classics Nights promotions, each of which recognized a team milestone or era. As part of the promotion, the participating team wore the franchise's uniform from that particular era. For example, the Philadelphia 76ers donned uniforms from the 1983 NBA championship team for their Hardwood Classics Night in honor of the 20th anniversary of Philadelphia's last NBA title.

The other teams participating in the promotion last year were Denver, New Jersey, Houston, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Sacramento and Washington.

The league plans to announce the promotional schedule for 2003-04 at the start of the season in late October and will put the related merchandise in retail stores two weeks before each of the team-designated retro nights.

"The Hardwood Classics Nights resonate with the teams and their fans because it is more than just wearing retro uniforms, it is a chance to celebrate their history," said Sal LaRocca, NBA senior vice president of global merchandising, in a statement.

The Hardwood Classics line was unveiled by the NBA and Reebok in 2001 after Reebok signed a merchandise licensing deal with the league. Reebok becomes the exclusive NBA uniform licensee in 2004.

Reebok and the NBA last week also announced plans to unveil a new uniform for the 2004 All-Star Game, scheduled for Feb. 15 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Reebok will sell matching all-star merchandise. From 1996 through 2002, each NBA all-star wore his team uniform for the All-Star Game. Last season, the all-star teams were outfitted in retro uniforms from the 1988 All-Star Game.

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