Don’t be alarmed if you come across a series of floating heads Saturday at the Arena – that’s just the Skyforce wearing their camouflage uniforms, part of the annual military appreciation night.
That (bad) joke is my way of introducing a subject I planned to write about for the Friday edition. And then Troy Hudson retired.
Alternate jerseys have become commonplace to the extent that not having at least three uniform options seems unusual. In fact, it seems like the Oregon football team wears three sets within a single game. But that’s not to say that people don’t enjoy them, especially when they’re marketed well and make an attempt to be unique.
The Force have two speciality digs this season. The first featured team and player Twitter handles - part of social media night. While hard to track, it’s believed that the Force were among the first minor-league organizations to do so. Yet they gave away the jerseys, building that in as part of the fun of the night.
The military sets will be auctioned off to raise money for Operation Cares, a charity founded by the Skyforce to help military families. They claim to have raised over $150,000 since 2003. And, again, Sioux Falls got on the camo fad relatively early – team president Mike Heineman borrowed the idea from the San Diego Padres – and have tried to keep it fresh, altering the colors or patterns.
In both cases, the franchise ordered and purchased the gear through Dakota Sports, taking advantage of the NBA D-League allowing teams to buy local instead of going through official outfitter adidas. What’s more, the league doesn’t limit the number of jersey promotions a team runs. The Texas Legends will bust out something like eight different sets this season.
That might be a little much even by Texas standards. But there’s no doubt it can make a night stand out from so many other home dates.
“It’s just something to change it up a little bit, do something different,” said Heineman, whose club in previous years has done NBA affiliate night where it – you guessed it – dresses like one of its NBA affiliates. “You’re always looking to keep things fresh. I’d like to come up with a couple more, but we don’t want to just do what everyone else is doing.”
Force fan Greg Nelson would be OK with that, too. The father of five has purchased a handful of the specialty jerseys over the years. It’s for a good cause and it’s fun for his kids. And sometimes the tops make really comfortable pajamas.
“We get a nice memento out of it,” he said.
Just make sure to remember where you put it; it’s liable to blend into the background otherwise.
Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.