Seattle-based Intrepid Sportswear sits thousands of miles from New York City, but this summer, the small jersey company will be a welcome site to the NYC basketball courts. For the second straight year the company will sponsor the Entertainers Basketball Classic (EBC) Rucker Park Basketball League and have agreed on an apparel sponsorship deal for the 2013 EBC season. Intrepid Sportswear will provide 460 custom-designed basketball uniforms for all men’s teams in the EBC for the 2013 season at Rucker Park.
"We are honored to be a part of the New York basketball space for the second straight year," Grabow said, "It's one of the best basketball cities in the world and to have our jersey's displayed in the Big Apple is a great fit for us."
Behind the frenetic action on the courts and the electric performances of entertainers like Kanye West at this year’s EBC, a war is being waged for the $2B team-apparel market in the US. Events like the EBC serve to highlight how creative companies can capitalize on market-inefficiencies to carve out a larger piece of that pie, and how America’s team sports’ communities are being served by a more philanthropically-focused business model. For the second year in a row, Intrepid was tapped to provide the uniforms for all on-court play – a role usually reserved for heavy-hitters like Nike. Intrepid’s business model features a specialized emphasis on team apparel, which for many larger companies is a secondary market given little serious focus. Mr. Grabow notes that Intrepid’s price-point has always been pegged relative to what a uniform should cost with minimal markup, and not the multi-tier distribution markups of competitors. As a result of this mindset and lean, efficient operating margins, Intrepid has seen quick growth through a sluggish economy, and remains one of the few companies to succeed with a direct-to-customer sales model.
“The amazing performance by NBA superstar Kevin Durant in 2011 at the EBC tournament at Rucker Park made an immediate impression on a whole generation of young basketball players,” said Mr. Grabow. “YouTube videos of his 66-point game have already been viewed more than 5,000,000 times. So there’s a huge recognition factor for Intrepid as we supply uniforms for all the teams in competition for a second consecutive year.”
The Entertainers Basketball Classic is hosted at the iconic Rucker Park, known worldwide as the epicenter of outdoor basketball, and a proving-ground for up-and-coming talent in New York. Many of the greatest players in basketball history developed their games at the park, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving, Earl Manigault, and Wilt Chamberlain. In 2011, Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant scored 66 points in a sizzling performance that made national headlines. Previous players and spectators have included NBA superstars Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Ray Allen, Zach Randolph, Brandon Jennings, and Joakim Noah, as well as former President Bill Clinton, NBA Commissioner David Stern and hip hop legends Jay-Z and Sean “Diddy” Combs.
Mr. Grabow sees this as another in a long line of battles to reshape the team-apparel industry. As the action heats up this summer on the world’s most renowned outdoor courts, the fiercest battles of all may the ones you don’t see.