Authentic or knockoff — NBA jerseys

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Authentic NBA jerseys come in three tiers — Authentic, Swingman and Replica. Replica (left) and Swingman (right) jerseys are shown here. (Addie Blacker)

NBA jerseys are great, especially for Utah summers; they are thin, light and loose-fitting. But anyone on the lookout for discounted used jerseys needs to be aware of knockoffs that fill many marketplaces.

Official team websites and nba.com are the safest places to buy NBA jerseys. Jerseys can often be purchased for less if they are bought from an independent seller that is trying to free up some space in their closet, but if you are looking to buy an authentic jersey, you need to take care to make sure you aren’t being sold a knockoff.

There are three tiers of current authentic NBA jerseys — Authentic, Swingman and Replica. Throwback jerseys can still be bought, so if you are looking to get your hands on one of those, the best advice that can be given is to make sure it is a Mitchell and Ness Hardwood Classics Jersey. There are other throwback jerseys that are still on the market that are authentic, but an authentic throwback jersey will usually be Mitchell and Ness.

NBA Authentic jerseys are the same uniforms that players wear on the court. These are made of higher quality fabric, have a little more stretch and are authentically stitched, but they look almost exactly alike a Swingman jersey. If you are a die-hard fan looking for only the best, then the Authentic branded jerseys are the ones for you — otherwise, you’ll save a lot of money by purchasing a Swingman.

Authentic jerseys have a Nike logo on the right shoulder. The name and numbers on the back of the jersey will be a thin fabric stitched to the jersey, not a heat-pressed vinyl. You should be able to see the stitching of the name and numbers on the inside of the jersey.

The size tag on Authentic jerseys is the most obvious way to see the difference between an Authentic jersey and its knockoff counterpart. The top portion of the tag is black with a narrow part along the bottom being silver. The size will always be numeric, and a separate tag will be vertically attached to the stitched sizing tag, which says “Authentic” on it. Aside from the tag, pay close attention to the numbers on the back of the jersey. Jersey manufacturers are careful to make sure no portion of the numbers protrude from the jersey, and the numbers should be the proper font.

Authentic jerseys are the most expensive tier and are generally sold for $199.99 but could be a little more depending on demand and player.

NBA jerseys will all have the NBA logo above the player’s name. Authentic and Swingman jerseys have letters made out of fabric, but authentic jerseys have the name and numbers stitched onto the jersey itself. (Addie Blacker)

Swingman jerseys are a step below Authentic jerseys, but they are largely similar. The fit won’t be as nice as an Authentic, and it’s not exactly what the pros are wearing, but if you can come to terms with that then this might be your best route.

The easiest way to distinguish between Authentic, Swingman and Replica jerseys is by looking at the tag on the bottom right side of the jersey. The Replica jerseys have a tag that looks different from that found on Swingman and Authentic jerseys, but Authentic and Swingman tags look almost identical. The one key difference between the two tags is a separate, smaller tag that is sewn onto the main patch. On an Authentic jersey, this patch will say “Authentic,” whereas on a Swingman jersey it’ll say “Swingman.”

Another key difference between Authentic and Swingman jerseys is the sizing location. On Authentic jerseys, the size is usually only found on a patch located on the bottom right of the jersey. On Swingman jerseys, the size is found on the inside of the back of the neck, as well as on the patch.

Swingman jerseys are generally sold for $109.99 but could be a little more expensive depending on team, player and jersey availability.

Replica jerseys are the least expensive, generally running $69.99. Replica jerseys are made out of a lower-quality fabric so they aren’t as nice as other jerseys. They also have a slightly different cut, so the arm and neck holes are larger, and they don’t have the names and number sewn onto them. The name and numbers on the back of Replica jerseys are vinyl and are heat pressed onto the jersey, so they are more likely to come off if the jersey is used and washed a lot. Though they fit much more loosely than Authentic and Swingman jerseys, they don’t forfeit much of the Authentic looks aside from the name and numbers.

Note that Replica jerseys are also created by Fanatics, not just Nike, so Fanatics branded authentic Replica jersey are available.

The NBA tag on the bottom of a Replica jersey features the NBA logo overlayed over a basketball court. (Addie Blacker)

All jerseys come with a Nike tag on the bottom right of the jersey. On Replica jerseys, the tag will be grey and feature the NBA logo on the center of it. To the right and left the logo will be three-point arcs.

Pay attention to these details when purchasing an NBA jersey. If you are looking to save money by purchasing a knockoff jersey, you will be sacrificing the authentic look and running the risk of buying a cheaply manufactured jersey.

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