- Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
The Cavs made a surprising decision before Game 5 of the NBA Finals when they chose to wear their black-sleeve alternate jerseys for the first time in the playoffs.
The move worked, as the Cleveland Cavaliers won Game 5. So this led to speculation that superstition would have the Cavs wearing black in Game 6 on Thursday. But, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, the NBA has a rule that forbids teams from wearing dark jerseys during home games:
The NBA does not allow the home team to wear a dark-colored uniform from their jersey set during home games in the Finals — so the Cavs will be wearing either white or gold jerseys for Game 6.
The original decision to wear black was surprising for a couple of reasons. For one, it was the first time that sleeved jerseys had been worn in the NBA Finals, and considering that athletes are creatures of habit, that seems like a strange time to change something as fundamental as jersey type.
But it was also surprising because it was clear earlier this season that LeBron James did not like the sleeved jerseys. When the Cavs first wore the jerseys in November against the New York Knicks, James started off 0-3 from three-point range and promptly ripped the sleeves on both arms.
- Tony Dejak/AP
At the time, LeBron tried to blow off the significance of the sleeves.
“I was just frustrated with myself, I was just off rhythm a lot tonight, and the jersey was the only thing I could go to,” James said at the time. “I couldn’t do nothing to my face.”
But Mark Cashman, the Cavs’ director of team operations, had a seamstress fix the jersey to be more to LeBron’s liking, according to McMenamin. After that first game, there were no further issues in the regular season.
As you can see here, the sleeves on the new version are not nearly as snug as the skin-tight sleeves when the Cavs first wore the black jerseys:
- David Richard/USA Today Sports/Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Fast-forward to the NBA playoffs and the Cavs cruised in the early rounds, winning their first 10 games of the postseason while wearing white jerseys at home and navy blue on the road. But when the Cavs fell behind the Golden State Warriors 3-1 in the Finals, Cashman asked LeBron if the team could try the black jerseys in Game 5 as a change of pace – the Cavs were 5-1 this season in the sleeved jerseys – and James gave the go-ahead.
James didn’t have any issues with his shooting this time around, scoring 41 points in the win.
But thanks to the NBA, if the Cavs are going to get any more good mojo from the sleeved jerseys, then it is going to have to wait until Game 7.