How to Build a Great Collection of NBA Apparel and Souvenirs

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Some of the most rabid fans in the world are the devoted followers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). They spend a great deal of time and money on their "addiction." There is no end for the quest for the ultimate article of clothing or souvenir. While the first thing that typically comes to mind when beginning an NBA collection is a jersey, just about any article of clothing, toy, towel, kitchen accessory, or any other routinely used item is available bearing an NBA logo. In fact, the list of household or office items that are NOT available bearing the insignia of a professional basketball team is probably shorter than a list that does.

This guide will offer tips as to where to go to find NBA apparel and souvenirs. It will provide information on how to find some truly unique items, including vintage clothing and collectors’ pieces, and how to customize NBA wear for yourself or as a gift. You will learn how to spot fake "Authentic NBA" merchandise. It will also provide details on how to navigate eBay and get access to thousands of NBA items quickly and under one "roof."

NBA Apparel

The term "NBA apparel" originally referred to traditional garments such as jerseys, t-shirts, hats, shorts, socks, and sweat suits. The rapid growth and development of the league in recent years has altered things somewhat. The term now includes hoodies, headbands, windbreakers, winter coats, watches, patches, wristbands, and more. If it can be worn, it is probably available with each NBA team’s logo.

NBA Jerseys

Those who search for NBA jerseys are quickly shocked to see the range of prices. Usually the differences come down to jerseys marketed as "Authentic NBA" versus those that do not mention it. Why would anyone care? Since the authentic NBA versions run upwards of $200 each and regular jerseys sell for $25, it seems smart to buy the regular one. Naturally, there is more to it than what immediately meets the eye.

The following chart details the differences between an authentic NBA jersey and a replica:

Factors

Authentic NBA

Replica

Price

$200 - $300

$10 and up

Material

Polyester mesh

Solid cotton or other blended fabric

Logo Application

Stitched and embroidered

Heat applied decal

Name, Number, Colors

Accurate, spelled correctly, with true colors

Different front and back, misspelled, colors fading

It really comes down to the reason for the purchase. Those who are getting a jersey with the name of their favorite player or team and their only concern is wearing the jersey in support of the team will likely be content with a replica. The same applies if it is purchased as a gift for a family member who is a big fan of a specific team or player.

On the other hand, if the intent is to keep the jersey indefinitely, it makes sense to consider buying an authentic NBA jersey that may actually appreciate in value in the years to come. Additionally, if there is any interest in getting the player to sign the jersey, the value can really skyrocket. This is best accomplished by a younger fan waiting outside the arena after a game or by mailing the jersey to the player with a prepaid postage return box. The other option is to attend a team-signing event with the jersey and permanent marker.

Here is where an auction site like eBay can make quite a difference. There are nearly always authentic jerseys offered for sale for far less than the original retail price. Many of these will already be signed by a current or past player. Reliable sellers may offer a quality jersey for bid with a starting price far below market value. A buyer can place a bid and monitor that item until the bid time expires. When it does, the bidder with the highest bid gets the jersey, usually at a greatly discounted price.

NBA Hats, T-Shirts, and Shorts

Unlike game jerseys, the great thing about NBA hats, t - shirts, and shorts is that fans can wear them just about every day. They are quite affordable, so there isn’t as much concern about wearing them out. These items are not typically considered as much memorabilia as they are just day-to-day casual clothing. They make great wear for pick-up games, meeting friends to watch a game on TV, or for just working in and around the house. 

Many true fans will buy these items and never wear them. They just buy them to grow their collections. They can be an especially attractive buy when a franchise changes locations. For instance, now that the Seattle Sonics have moved to Oklahoma City, unused Sonics apparel is not produced in great quantities and will take on more significance as the years go by. As a result, expect the prices today to be higher than those of active franchises.

Vintage NBA Apparel

When searching for vintage NBA clothing, it is important to distinguish between old-looking or "throwback" articles, and that which was actually manufactured in the past. Just because a Chicago Bulls jersey has Michael Jordan’s name and familiar number 23 on it, doesn’t make it vintage. The price will tell you. Rest assured that a jersey priced at $15 is very likely a new retro version of the original. Expect to pay well over $100 for a jersey actually manufactured during the era the player was active, and far more if it is signed by a star player and backed with a certificate of authenticity.

However, many fans simply prefer the older look of clothing styles, logos, and the cut of garments that were in vogue during the past. Franchises are constantly updating designs and logos, to both the delight and dismay of their fans. There is no shortage of options available today for vintage NBA apparel, and all at very reasonable prices.

Unique NBA Merchandise

Every serious collector of NBA apparel and souvenirs will be interested in learning about the truly unusual assortment of possibilities available. And, just because these items are out of the mainstream doesn’t necessarily mean they are outrageously priced.

At the upper-end of the traditional price spectrum are signed and authenticated basketball cards and jerseys. They may be relatively expensive, but they are not unique. More to the point might be a limited-edition stretched canvas of Shaquille O’Neal from his first year as a member of the Miami Heat, for $770. Or a Boston Celtics hand-enameled charm bracelet with Czech glass beads for $65. For the wealthy fan who has everything else, there is a New York Knicks black and white diamond necklace with a white gold chain for $16,400.

More realistically, the family pooch could be supporting the local team with an NBA dog collar. There is also a wide assortment of NBA office supplies and accessories to start a conversation with clients and prospective customers. Another great gift for diehard fans is an NBA clock. Ultimately, the variety of items is huge.

Custom NBA Apparel and Souvenirs

Many extreme NBA fans are not satisfied with a jersey or jacket with their favorite player’s name on the back. They want their own name there. There are plenty of options readily available, and not just for jerseys and jackets. Personalized apparel and souvenirs can range from key chains and baby bibs to necklaces, dog (and human) ID tags, and beer mugs.

Since turnaround times on personalized merchandise can vary greatly, it is best to begin the search well ahead of any holiday or birthday deadlines. Occasionally, specific items are backordered and the delay may be long.

Find NBA Apparel and Souvenirs on eBay

eBay is a great go-to destination for all things NBA. If you start on the homepage, the Sporting Goods category will direct you to toward team sports and on to basketball. There are a large number of options to choose from. The navigation on eBay is well laid out and easy to follow.

If you have an idea about the specific item you want to find, the easiest way to find it is to use the keyword search tool located at the top of every page. Try entering a search term like, NBA video games into the search field. Once you arrive there, you can fine-tune the search for platform, genre, condition, and price. When in doubt about how an eBay search works, go to eBay ’ s Search Tips for some pointers. Another place to look for NBA stuff is eBay Stores, where the layout is slightly different. All eBay vendors that have access to your item will be notified. They will contact you directly as soon as they have the NBA souvenir you’re looking for.

Always remember to request a certificate of authenticity for any item of value. The seller should provide one as part of the transaction. And, don’t hesitate to request additional information or photographs of any item at any time. You can do this best by clicking on Contact Seller link within their user profile. This is also a good time check whether or not the seller has a Top Seller insignia, and to read some of the feedback left for seller from previous buyers.

Conclusion

True NBA fans will welcome just about anything that displays the name of their favorite team. The sky’s the limit when it comes to clothing, souvenirs, memorabilia, and player-signed items. The principle of "Let the buyer beware" applies when purchasing expensive items from any unknown sellers. The world of NBA clothing and keepsakes is vast. But, those who take the time to properly research competitive pricing and availability will be rewarded. Plan well ahead for targeted dates like anniversaries and birthdays to avoid disappointment.

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