NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — Throughout the 2015 Nike EYBL Peach Jam, whenever attention strayed away from the nation’s best hoops prospects on the court, it tended to zero in on footwear. Given the teams’ access to exclusive Nike kicks, that’s no big surprise; basketball players love basketball sneakers, particularly when they’re of the limited edition variety. Yet all of Nike’s efforts to ensure that each and every team is outfitted completely in all Nike or Jordan brand footwear and apparel couldn’t ensure that the event was an all-Nike affair.
How could that be? Someone forgot to check the officials.
As noted by, well, me, roughly half of the officials working at the Peach Jam event wore non-Nike sneakers. And we’re not talking about four or five referees here. We’re talking more than twice that number.
There were Reeboks aplenty:
There were Adidas sneakers of multiple varieties, including the wild Swingblades.
And Asics, too.
This is just a small sampling of what was on display by the refs at Peach Jam, which begs the question: Why isn’t Nike just giving the refs all brand new Nikes? If the company is bankrolling an event to the tune of millions of dollars, why wouldn’t they spend the extra $2,000 (or less) to give all the refs EYBL uniforms and a new identical pair of shoes?
It’s a serious question worth asking of an event, particularly one in the spotlight as much as Peach Jam. If nothing else, perhaps Nike will now keep the refs in mind, because refs are visible contributors to their events, too.