This past St. Patrick’s Day, I turned on the TV to find the New York Knicks playing in green uniforms. If the Knicks had a long line of Irish blood, maybe they would get lucky and win a few more games. So why the drastic change to leprechaun green?
The first time the Knicks sported a green uniform was on March 17, 2006. They paired up with Tourism Ireland to entice Americans to visit Ireland. This began a pattern for the Knicks to alter their uniforms according to certain holidays. So when a game fell on Christmas Day 2009, the Knicks, again, played in green.
The original Knicks uniform, in 1946, wasn’t exactly the most stylish of designs; it consisted of a belt around their extremely short shorts.
It did display the team’s official colors of blue, orange and white, though. After 1946, the Knicks uniforms only improved as they slowly made their way out of the olden age to today’s classic style. With many changes along the way, and only one short-lived dramatic color switch to maroon in 1979, the Knicks uniforms have remained blue, orange, black and white: the colors of their team and the colors of their home, New York City.
Basketball, being an American sport, and the Knicks, being an American team, have uniforms that were always, and still should be, made in America.
And for about 40 years, American Classic Outfitters in Perry, New York, was home to the factory that produced Adidas-brand NBA jerseys. However, in the fall of 2009, there was much debate that the production of the jerseys would be moved to Thailand, where costs to produce them would be much cheaper and the materials needed would be more accessible. About a month after speculation, the move to Thailand was made.
In an interview in November 2009, Senator Chuck Schumer commented, “The switch would blemish more than a century of history for the marquee American sport.” Schumer, a hardcore Knicks fan, hoped Adidas would change its mind and continue making the jerseys in the United States, just how they always had been. “To do anything else is an insult to the American worker and sports fans everywhere in America,” he said.
Schumer is 100 percent correct.
The fame and fortune that the Knicks pride themselves in is provided by the people of New York, and for the Knicks to not wear the product of their own peoples’ hard work on their backs is disrespectful.
Why should we support a team that does not support us, the U.S. economy, or the hundreds of workers who lost their jobs to a factory overseas?
And the uniform changes didn’t stop just with colors. Madison Square Garden now hosts Hispanic Heritage Night, because of the growing population of avid Hispanic basketball fans. For that, to bring in even more money, the Knicks uniforms read in Spanish, “Nueva York.” In this past March alone, there were three Hispanic Heritage Nights where the Knicks wore their Spanish-language jerseys. In addition to the New York Knicks, the Heat, Bulls, Magic, Spurs, Lakers, Mavericks and Suns all participate in Hispanic Heritage Nights, and wear Spanish-language uniforms.
The Knicks make around $150 million annually, so the need to reduce the costs of uniforms is questionable, until you take into consideration the fact that new uniforms are now being produced on what seems like a daily basis, for St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas and Hispanic Heritage Night.
The need for cheaper production of jerseys is now apparent. The Knicks simply used to have two jerseys: a white, English-language one for home games, and a blue, English-language one for away games. But within the last few years, the Knicks seem to need a new jersey every couple of games. And now that they are all made cheaply in Thailand, they come at relatively little cost to them.
From the outside, the Knicks appear worldly and supportive of holidays and different cultures, except their own. From the inside, their tags don’t even read: “Made in the USA.”