Champion NBA Licensing Timeline (1990-1991 through 2001-2002)

This is a the follow-up to my recent posts on NBA uniform licensing. The following just focuses on recapping Champion’s NBA licensing history….

  • For 12 seasons (1990-1991 to 2001-2002), Champion was involved in NBA uniform licensing in some capacity
  • Champion produced replica jerseys for all NBA teams for 11 seasons (1991-1992 through 2001-2002)
  • Champion was the official uniform provider for all NBA teams for 7 seasons (1990-1991 through 1996-1997).
  • For the next 4 seasons (1997-1998 to 2000-2001), Champion was the official uniform provider for 10 NBA teams.
  • In 2001-2002, Champion was the official uniform provider for 8 NBA teams.
  • At the conclusion of 2001-2002 season, Champion’s license with the NBA expired and it no longer provided uniforms nor produced replica or authentic jerseys for any NBA teams

July 1990

  • Champion signs a 4-year licensing agreement to become the exclusive NBA uniform provider for all 27 teams through the 1993-1994 season
  • The agreement also gives Champion the exclusive right to produce and sell NBA replica jerseys for all 27 teams

1990-1991

  • Champion’s licensing agreement begins
  • Champion is the exclusive NBA uniform provider for all 27 teams

1991-1992 through 1993-1994 (3 seasons)

  • Champion begins producing replica jerseys for all 27 teams
  • Champion begins producing authentic jerseys for all 27 teams

1994-1995 through 1996-1997 (3 seasons)

  • Prior to the start of the 1994-1995 season, Champion signs a 3-year extension to remain the exclusive NBA uniform provider for all 27 teams through the 1996-1997 season
  • Champion continues to produce replica jerseys for all 27 teams
  • Champion continues to produce authentic jerseys for all 27 team
  • Champion’s licensing agreement as the NBA’s exclusive uniform provider ends at the conclusion of the 1996-1997 season

1997-1998 through 1998-1999 (2 seasons)

  • Nike and Starter are granted multi-year uniform licenses. Nike gets 10 teams and Starter gets 9 teams.
  • Champion signs a 5-year licensing deal that runs through the 2001-2002 season.
  • Champion is now the uniform provider for 10 teams: Atlanta, Indiana, Los Angeles Clippers, New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle, Utah and Vancouver
  • Champion produces authentic jerseys for these 10 teams
  • Champion continues to produce replica jerseys for all 29 NBA teams

1999-2000 through 2000-2001 (2 seasons)

  • Starter declares bankruptcy and Puma takes over Starter’s 9 teams. Puma then takes Indiana from Champion in exchange for Charlotte (Champion was based in Charlotte)
  • Champion is the uniform provider for 10 teams: Atlanta, Charlotte, Los Angeles Clippers, New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle, Utah and Vancouver
  • Champion produces authentic jerseys for these 10 teams
  • Champion continues to produce replica jerseys for all 29 NBA teams

2001-2002

  • Reebok signs a licensing agreement with the NBA and takes over Puma’s 9 teams. In addition, Reebok takes Memphis (Vancouver) and Seattle from Champion.
  • Champion is the uniform provider for 8 teams: Atlanta, Charlotte, Los Angeles Clippers, New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Utah
  • Champion produces authentic jerseys for these 8 teams
  • Champion continues to produce replica jerseys for all 29 NBA teams
  • Champion’s licensing agreement as an NBA uniform provider ends at the conclusion of the 2001-2002 season and Champion no longer produces on-court uniforms for any teams, nor do they produce authentic jerseys or replica jerseys for any teams

Champion Europe

1991-1992 through 2009-2010 (19 seasons)

  • Champion Europe held the exclusive license with the NBA to produce authentic and replica jerseys for overseas markets from 1991-1992 through 2009-2010.
  • Champion Europe extended the licensing agreement with the NBA twice, once in June 1997 and again in May 2005.
  • Champion Europe’s licensing agreement was supposed to run through the 2010-2011 season. But in March 2010 it was announced that Adidas would be taking over the licensing in the European market from Champion for the 2010-2011 season. At the time of the announcement, Adidas was finishing its 4th season on an 11-year licensing agreement as the NBA’s exclusive uniform provider for all 30 teams.

 

25 thoughts on “Champion NBA Licensing Timeline (1990-1991 through 2001-2002)

  • February 11, 2015 at 6:28 pm
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    Love the team pages. Keep em coming if you are still working on this!

    Reply
    • March 27, 2015 at 7:24 pm
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      Thanks for checking it out! I’m definitely still working on it as my schedule permits. Getting more teams up now and hope to have a complete archive by early summer. So keep checking it out.

      Reply
  • March 26, 2015 at 9:52 pm
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    Did Champion also produce European issue replica jerseys past 2002? I have seen a couple on EBay that would seem to be made in the mid 2000s (Wade Miami, Garnett Boston).

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    • March 27, 2015 at 7:18 pm
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      They did indeed, until 2006 when Adidas assumed the license. European jerseys are actually my favorite because the replicas were true to the authentics that the athletes wore on the court. For instance uniforms like the Bulls and Hornets had the pinstripes, and the Pacers uniform had the multicolor front. They were able to do this because the fabric wasn’t nylon, it was a polyester cloth. Champion replicas here in the states were printed on nylon and everything screen printed on. Screen printing is limiting in regards to the area you can stamp…it’s based on the platen size and therefore usually doesn’t exceed a 16×16 area in most cases. So the replicas in the States weren’t true in some instance to what was worn on the court…for instance the Pacers, Supersonics, Hornets, etc. In fact, if you compare the first Blazers jerseys in 1991-1992 to the late 90s jerseys, they go from no stripe across the front, to a partial stripe, to a full stripe. So you can see that Champion was tweaking there printing over that time.

      Reply
  • March 31, 2015 at 7:16 am
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    Hi, thanks for your reply to my question about European jerseys. I like them a lot also and hope to buy some soon.

    I have another question that I hope you might be able to shed some light on. Recently I bought a Champion jersey on EBay and was disappointed to find that the NBA logo had been ironed on. I felt like sending it back, but since it was only $18 I kept it. Everything else seems the same except it also has no inner tag. Have you come across this? Is this a fake jersey? Thanks again for your website, I love the pictures and the Grizzlies collection is awesome.

    Reply
    • April 1, 2015 at 2:31 am
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      You have nothing to worry about with your recent purchase. As long as it’s a replica, there is pretty much zero chance of it being a fake. In some cases, someone might take a deadstock blank team jersey and screen print a name and number on it, but you would be able to tell by comparing it to other jerseys of the same team…the screen print on the after-market customization wouldn’t look good. And someone would only do that if they wanted an obscure player that didn’t exist.

      It’s extremely common for the inner neck tag to be missing as most people cut those off when they originally bought them since they scratch your neck and are annoying. As for the NBA logo, on the replicas most times they are a felt patch and ironed on. The Champion logo is always an embroidered patch. When I buy replicas, the three main things I want are: crisp screen print, jock tag (so i know true sizing) and NBA/Champion logo in tact.

      Where you have to watch out is with the authentics because the polyester mesh material and tackle twill lettering can easily be duplicated (these come out of Asia all the time on Ebay) and there is more money in those.

      Reply
  • June 19, 2015 at 11:43 pm
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    Dope site, lot’s of good info. I’ve been seeing some Champion replicas with no size tag. Are those kids jerseys? Thanks!

    Reply
    • June 22, 2015 at 3:00 am
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      Thanks, hopefully I’ll get it finished some time in the near future. Kids jerseys also have jock/size tags on them. If you are seeing them without size tags, then someone just cut it off at some point. If you are curious about the size of a jersey that is missing the tag, just have the person selling it take a measurement from armpit to armpit. Multiply that by two and you get your size….for instance if it’s 20″ from pit to pit, thats a Size 40/medium (40″ chest).

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  • July 14, 2015 at 9:03 am
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    Wow this website is dope bro ! Just one question , has Champion In europe ever released a kareem jersey with HWC tag on ??? Thanks for your reply man !

    Reply
    • July 20, 2015 at 2:09 am
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      I’m glad you found the site and like it…keep checking back as I’ll keep putting up new teams/jerseys over the next few months until it’s complete. As for the authentic Hardwood Classic Champion jerseys that were released in Europe, I have indeed seen a Kareem Lakers jersey a couple of times. However, it’s not true to the style that Kareem wore with the Lakers, nor is it even true to the early 1960s style jersey it attempts to replicate. The font style is true to the early 1960s Lakers jersey, but those jerseys were either white (home) or blue (road)….the HWC version is gold. So I’m not sure if this was an after market customization or an actual release by Champion.

      Eventually, I’ll add a section with the Hardwood Classic Champion jerseys I have come across. But off the top of my head, here are the one’s I know exist: Julius Erving (Nets & Sixers), Bobby Jones (Sixers), Alex English (Nuggets), David Thompson (Nuggets), Jerry West (Lakers), Larry Bird (Celtics), Walt Frazier (Knicks)

      Reply
  • July 17, 2015 at 9:37 am
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    Thanks for the prompt informations and your website.
    I collect NBA jerseys and I live in Hungary, so it’s rather hard to get them here. (except ebay)

    There are many very useful things that I learnt and I will write an article in a Hungarian NBA related website about the history of NBA jerseys, so your blog will be one of my main sources.
    I can’t thank you enough about these facts. Keep your site alive!

    Regards and best wishes,
    Lewis

    Reply
  • September 8, 2015 at 1:08 am
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    Hi, do champion produce jersey that made in Korea?i have one Allen Iverson jersey which the tag show it is made in Korea.

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    • September 12, 2015 at 10:09 pm
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      I’m not aware of Champion producing any jerseys in Korea. To my knowledge, replica jerseys were produced in Mexico, and authentic jerseys were produced in the USA. Possibly there are some European jerseys that were produced in Korea, but I’m not sure. Most of the Champion Europe jerseys I have owned were made in Italy. It could possibly be a knock-off jersey, especially if it’s an authentic. I would need so see photo.

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  • January 2, 2016 at 9:20 pm
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    hey love the page . quick question . I’m kinda a wierdo when it comes to If the players acutely wore that style replica. iv noticed some are bang on like the bucks , Lakers and golden state, while although nice I can’t find pics of teams like Charlotte or San Antonio ever wearing the solid colour ways . any thoughts ?. did the they do the multi colour or pinstripe as well in replicas ?

    Reply
    • January 27, 2016 at 6:05 pm
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      Thanks for checking out the site. Great question and I’ll be addressing this in future posts (I touched on it in my post about the Portland Trailblazers jerseys). Some replica jerseys were indeed pretty spot on, while others are just awful when it comes to replicating what teams actually wore on the court. And this all has to do with the printing capabilities and manufacturing capabilities that Champion had during the early to mid-90s. For manufacturing, they just used solid nylon construction with o frills included like pinstriping or side panels. For printing, they were limited by the platens (heat press tables) they were using to heat press the numbers/logos on the jerseys. So they basically stuck to the team names/logos and the players numbers and names. Any additional details like pinstriping (like the Hornets) or side panels (like the Spurs) are non-existent, as well as any design that would run the entire width of the chest (like the multi-colored accents on the Sonics or Pacers jersey). By 1998-1999 Champion was able to incorporate pinstripes, side panels and full-width accent graphics based on updated printing capabilities and manufacturing capabilities of the nylon jerseys themselves. However, Champion Authentic jerseys have always been authentic to exactly what was worn on the court…so on those jerseys in additional to the tackle-twill sewn letters and numbers, you’ll also see all the detail on the jersey themselves like pin striping, side panels and full-width accent graphics.

      Some of the worst replicas Champion put out in the early 90s during there initial production runs were the Sonics, Pacers, Nuggets, Hawks and Hornets.

      It should be noted that the European versions that Champion issued overseas were true to what players actually wore on the court. For those jerseys they didn’t use 100% nylon like here in the states, instead they used 100% polyester (like the Authentics issued in the states). This allowed them to use dye sublimation printing technique which allowed for full coverage printing. So unlike the heat transfer they used on the nylon jerseys in the states, where the letters/logos/numbers are rubbery…the dye sublimation set the ink into the fabric, so the European jerseys don’t have the rubbery feel on the graphics. If you look at the Hornets section on this site, you’ll see the European jerseys at the bottom of the gallery and you’ll see they are true to what the Hornets wore on the court.

      Reply
  • February 18, 2016 at 5:15 am
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    Hi!

    I was doing some research the other day, i went through some nba players info, who played for only one season for particular club and ive noticed, all of players who played for particular club till 1994, all replica jerseys had the ironed nba logo, the players who played for 1995/1996 season, had sewn on logo and made in usa, when someone had still sewn on nba logo but had the neck tag and says made in costa rica or mexico.
    When i went through some players who played for 1994/1995 season, there are all made in usa, sewn + ironed.. so when checking out a few,
    it all adds up,
    till 1994 always ironed nba logo, made in usa
    1995 already sewn still made in usa
    1996, sewn + smaller neck tag which says costa rica or mexico
    later in 1996, bigger blue neck with champion logo, mexico assembled.

    can you confirm this?

    Reply
    • February 21, 2016 at 12:12 pm
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      Thanks for checking out the site! Although looking at the NBA patch, neck label and jock tags to determine the year a particular jersey was issued isn’t an exact science, you are correct that by looking at these characteristics that you can basically pinpoint what year a particular jersey was produced. Obviously some jerseys are easy figure out which season they were produced based on the style/color of the jersey, graphics/team logos, player name font or just by the fact that a particular player only played for a particular team for one season. However, for a player like Michael Jordan for instance (who had the same style of jersey throughout his playing career with the Bulls), you can look at the various labels on the jersey to determine exactly which year the jersey was issued. It definitely gets into the weeds, but if you are hardcore collector and want a first issue jersey of a particular player, then examining the neck label, the jock tag and the NBA logo patch can help you date a jersey. Your research is pretty spot on. I’m going to do a dedicated post right now to this subject so you can compare notes.

      Reply
      • February 25, 2016 at 12:09 pm
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        Your site really helped me out with id-ing which sports brands and for how long particular brands had the license for manufacturing nba jerseys throughout the 90’s – early 00s seasons, i remember goggling and searching before your site was made and i there was no other site, who entirely broke down the timeline, thanks a lot!

        I’ll read it right away!

        Reply
  • March 23, 2016 at 11:31 am
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    Awesome info! I am a Champion NBA jersey collector and really dig your informative blog. EXCELLENT work!! Ebay is one of the places I search when looking to add to my collection. I’ve been wanting an Isiah Thomas and found this guy “rarevintagewear” selling one. He wants $299.99 for it. I asked him, ” Why is the NBA logo and Champion “C” logo missing from the upper left”(but offered him $100 anyway) He responded with “The jersey is an on court authentic therefor there is no Champion “C” on the front. Also the jersey was originally purchased at a Champion outlet hence why there is no NBA Logo. Im sorry but $100 is not nearly enough for a Champion authentic.” Is this seller mistaken??

    Reply
    • March 24, 2016 at 6:55 pm
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      Thanks for checking out the site, and keep checking back as I’m working to complete all of the team galleries and then start posting more frequently. Per your question, Rarevintagewear is correct about the Champion logo “C” patch not being on authentics. Authentic jerseys are meant to be exact replicas of what the team wears on the court, and the NBA has never allowed uniform manufacturers to have their logos on jerseys that players wear on the court (Nike will be the first company to have their logo on NBA jerseys when their contract starts in 2017-2018). Therefore, whenever you see authentics made by Sand-Kint, Champion, Starter, Puma, Nike, Reebok or Adidas there aren’t logos on the jersey (replicas and swingmans have the logos).

      As for the NBA logo, that should be on the Isiah Thomas authentic jersey. This could have been an error and sold at a Champion outlet as suggested, but in that case the jock tag would most likely be cut to designate that it was indeed an error. But with that being said, I have seen a couple of Isiah Thomas authentic Champion jerseys that did not have the NBA logo and have the jock tag intact. Personally, I wouldn’t buy it without the NBA logo because I like my jerseys to be as complete/flawless as possible. But the Isiah Thomas authentic jersey is very difficult to come by, so if you can get it for a discount as you tried to do, it would be worth it. But $300 for what essentially is an error jersey…that’s not worth it and you are better waiting for another one to come along. Below is a photo of a legit Isiah Thomas authentic Champion Jersey for reference:

      Reply
  • April 15, 2016 at 8:24 am
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    I am serching goole. You are a professional with champion history.

    I got a NBA au jersey .somebody said it’s a fake jersey.

    I have ask for champion . They mail back to prove it’s real !!!

    Plesase let me know what do you think. thanks.

    You can see all photos in Website (my facebook)

    Jeter Chang

    Reply
    • July 2, 2016 at 9:20 pm
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      I looked at your Chris Webber Sacramento Kings Champion authentic (stitched) jersey. Unfortunately I believe it’s fake. Since you got it from a seller in Europe, there’s a very slight possibility it’s a legit Champion Europe jersey, but I would not have bought it. Champion Europe had an exclusive license to create replica and authentics for Europe and the Middle East from 1991-1992 through 2010-2011. In fact, Champion Europe extended that contract in June 1997, the same time the NBA took away the exclusive on-court uniform license from Champion in the United States. For the 1997-1998 season, the NBA split up its on-court licensing agreements by awarding 9 teams to Starter, 10 teams to Nike and 10 teams to Champion. Champion did maintain the exclusive right to produce replica jerseys for all 29 teams (Nike and Starter could not make replica jerseys, only authentics…it’s why Nike created the higher end Swingman jersey as a way to make a lower priced stitched jersey without encroaching on Champion’s exclusive right to do screen-printed jerseys). But Champion could not make authentic jerseys for the 19 teams held by Starter and Nike starting in the 1997-1998 season. The Sacramento Kings were one of Nike’s teams, so Champion could not produce an authentic (stitched) Kings jersey from 1997-1998 and beyond. Chris Webber joined the Kings in the strike-shortened 1998-1999 season, so Champion couldn’t have made an authentic Kings Webber jersey. Starter made an authentic Kings Webber jersey and so did Puma (Starter went bankrupt prior to the 1999-2000 season and Puma took over their team licenses). But Champion DID NOT make a authentic Kings Webber jersey for the US market. The only authentic (stitched) jersey Champion ever made for the Kings, was a Mitch Richmond alternate jersey…which is the distinctive half purple/half black jersey the Kings wore from 1994-1995 through 1996-1997. With all that being said, there is a very slight chance this is a legit Champion Europe authentic Webber Kings jersey that was sold in Europe since Champion Europe retained the rights to produce authentic Kings jerseys. BUT, the tagging on the jersey is not traditional Champion Europe tagging. It is consistent with the dual tagging that Champion used on its authentic jerseys here in the US starting in 1997-1998 season. Champion Europe tagging on replicas and on their authentic (stitched) Hardwood Classics line does not use a numeric sizing system (like 40, 44, 48, 52), but instead uses S, M, L, XL. I haven’t seen too many authentic (stitched) Champion Europe jerseys, but the ones I have seen for players like Pau Gasol and Allen Iverson have European tagging, and the collar label and jock tag are completely different from the US tags. Therefore, since the tagging is US tagging and Champion didn’t make an authentic Kings Webber jersey, I believe it to be a fake

      Reply
  • May 2, 2016 at 9:49 am
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    Really great info regarding the Isiah Thomas authentic! I also have a question about the “gold logo NBA at 50” Champion jerseys. Everyone selling one of these always says “extremely rare” and the cost is usually a lot more. Are these jerseys really that rare? Are they worth the extra coin? What year did Champion first make them? Thanks again for all of your knowledge on the subject.

    Reply
  • June 29, 2016 at 11:22 am
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    Hi, I have a Champion Jordan Black jersey. It has the tags and everything. It is a replica but I heard from someone that if the Jordan name doesn’t curve like some of the other color editions its fake.
    Is this true or was that just for some editions for certain years.
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • July 2, 2016 at 7:20 pm
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      First off, I wouldn’t be worried about a fake replica Champion jersey, as it’s not really financially worthwhile for people to produce counterfeit screen printed replicas. You’ll definitely find counterfeit authentics though because they are easier to knock-off and more lucrative. However, with the popularity of replica Champion jerseys taking off again, there might be fakes that start hitting the market eventually, but I think they’ll be easy to spot if they ever do. The black Jordan replica jerseys were produced between 1995-1996 and 1998-1999 (4 years) and were the Bulls Alternate jersey. There should be a slight curve, but it’s not that defined. You can go to the team page on this website and check out the Bulls gallery for a reference photo of that particular jersey. For the 1999-2000 season, the Bulls changed the black Alternate jerseys to say “CHICAGO” on the front instead of “BULLS”. Champion never issued a Jordan jersey in this style because Jordan was retired and did not allow Champion to produce his jersey after his retirement (unlike Larry Bird and Magic Johnson…Champion continued to produce and sell their jerseys throughout the 90s). The 1999-2000 black Alternate Bulls jerseys did have a more defined curved player name on the back. You can check out the Toni Kukoc black jerseys in my Bulls gallery to see the pronounced difference. I hope this helps you!

      Reply

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