Nike Jersey Rips on LeBron James in NBA Debut

By Sara Germano Features Dow Jones Newswires

Nike Inc.'s new basketball jersey ripped while being worn Tuesday by star LeBron James during the sportswear company's debut as the official outfitter of the National Basketball Association.

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In the league's first game of the 2017-2018 season between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics on Tuesday night, a large tear was visible down the back of Mr. James's jersey, between the numerals of his #23 kit.

Replays showed the rip appeared after incidental contact from the Celtics' Jaylen Brown, who grabbed Mr. James's top while defending him on the court late in the game.

Nike and the NBA didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

It was at least the second Nike jersey to endure a large tear during play, after Los Angeles Lakers player Tyler Ennis suffered a ripped jersey in a preseason game earlier this month.

Nike, which has struggled with weak sales of basketball shoes in recent months, has been marketing its NBA apparel. The contract is valued at more than $1 billion over eight years, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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In a July press release touting its new jerseys, Nike said the kits are made from "a combination of Alpha Yarns and recycled polyester" and were designed to wick sweat more than 30% faster than previous NBA kits. Until the current season, rival Adidas AG held the league outfitting rights.

Sportswear malfunctions are rare but not unheard of in professional sports. At the 2015 Berlin Marathon, elite runner Eliud Kipchoge missed the world record by 63 seconds after the insoles of his Nike shoes fell out midrace. At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, members of the U.S. speedskating team believed their Under Armour body suits were impeding their performance and voted to switch to a different suit mid-Games.

Write to Sara Germano at sara.germano@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 18, 2017 00:54 ET (04:54 GMT)