An All-Star Product-Acquisition Journey

You can’t beat the real deal
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Posted February 27, 2015

This past Valentine’s Day weekend, I attended a series of events that led up to, and included, the NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden (New York). In anticipation of the big event, I made my way to the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue to pick up some official garb, so I’d be properly appointed for the occasion.

My initial goal, I thought, was quite an easy one. I wanted a Michael Jordan jersey. The alignment made perfect sense to me: his name is Jordan, my name is Jordan; he played for the Bulls, I’m a Taurus.

With the assistance of a nice, young sales associate, I selected two jerseys to try on: a white one that replicated his All-Star appearance in 1998 (the last time the All-Star game was played at MSG), and a red Bulls 1997-1998 season replica jersey. I purchased the white one based on fit, and set off for home after my purchase, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the red jersey.

The quest was on: Locate, what I learned from the sales associate, was a numbered, limited-edition jersey with a finite production run, in the color and I found in-store, in the size I needed. As these quests typically lead me, I went to eBay. After a little online surfing on the subway, I found and purchased, somewhere between 42nd and 34th Streets, what was described to be a perfect match.

Oh, eBay buyer beware.

Anxiously awaiting the arrival of my red jersey, which I’d already chosen to wear to Saturday night’s event – it was Valentine’s Day, after all – I arrived home with my prize and opened the package. Much to my dismay, the jersey was clearly a fake. I wasn’t surprised. At one-fifth the store price, I had held out little hope of it being anything else. I conducted a side-by-side comparison to the real McCoy from the NBA Store; the fabric weight was too light, the stitching on the player name and date label was sloppy, the orientation of the brand label was slightly off-kilter. Even the sizing was weird – the tags said small, but it was way too big, yet it was still oddly shorter than the NBA-Store small. Worst of all, the red was not as vibrant as the red in the original.

T-minus four hours to the start of the event at Barclays Center (Brooklyn, New York), I set off on my odyssey across two rivers and an island … donning my fake.

For the big game Sunday, I wore my real, Mitchell & Ness Authentic (Philadelphia) jersey from the NBA Store. Walking around MSG during half time, I got stopped by at least three fans who complimented me on the jersey. They knew the real deal when they saw it – I was in the club! Now I love that jersey. I may even wear it to work … with a blazer over it.

As for the red one, it’s now folded up and back in its bag. I’m going to give it to my nephew for his birthday next month; his middle name is Jordan.

Read more about Kathleen’s 2015 NBA All-Star Game retail experiences.

Kathleen Jordan, AIA, CID, LEED AP, is a principal in Gensler’s New York office, and a leader of its retail practice with over 24 years of experience across the United States and internationally. Jordan has led a broad range of retail design projects as both an outside consultant and as an in-house designer. She has led projects from merchandising and design development all the way through construction documentation and administration, and many of her projects have earned national and international design awards. Contact her at kathleen_jordan@gensler.com.