Senator asks adidas to reverse move
WASHINGTON -- The official uniforms for NBA players could soon be made in Asia, a move drawing sharp criticism from a New York Democratic senator.
Sports apparel maker adidas plans to end its contract with American suppliers and move production of NBA jerseys to a factory in Thailand. The move could cost about 100 jobs at a factory in upstate New York that makes more than half the uniforms worn by Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and other NBA players.
Sen. Chuck Schumer said the switch would blemish more than a century of history for the marquee American sport. He called on adidas to reverse its decision and keep making the uniforms in the U.S.
"To do anything else is an insult to the American worker and sports fans everywhere in America," said the New York Democrat, who is a longtime New York Knicks fan.
American Classic Outfitters of Perry, N.Y., has been making NBA jerseys for 40 years.
Adidas is in the middle of an 11-year merchandising deal to be the official uniform and apparel provider for the NBA, WNBA and the NBA Development League.
In a statement, adidas said it was consolidating its supply chain and moving production closer to the source of uniform materials.
"The Adidas Group continues to produce uniforms for professional, college and other amateur teams at more than 30 facilities in North America and will continue to do so moving forward," adidas said.
A spokeswoman for the NBA did not immediately respond to requests for comments.
NBA players' jerseys have always been manufactured in the United States.
Rob Knoll, senior vice president at American Classic Outfitters, said his company had a multiyear contract to make professional basketball uniforms for adidas. But last month, he said, adidas officials told him they were moving operations overseas. The New York plant had invested more than $1 million in facility improvements and equipment to produce the jerseys.
"It's a blow because the work that was in house and scheduled for production is gone now," Knoll said. "If they want to change their mind, we'd love it."
Adidas also had contracts with two other U.S. companies to make the official NBA jerseys.
German-owned adidas is the second largest athletic shoe and apparel company in the world. Its U.S. subsidiary, adidas America, has its U.S. headquarters in Portland, Ore.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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