For many basketball fans, jerseys are the best way to show our appreciation and support to our favorite NBA players and teams. They look fantastic, they’re pretty good quality, and it’s a good way to show you are fan. However, jerseys aren’t cheap, and they aren’t getting any cheaper; the current price for a Nike swingman jersey is $110! With multiple editions of jerseys getting released every season, as well as new designs every season, it’s easy to get set back a few hundred dollars every season as you try to keep up. And if you’re a jersey collector, you’re looking at spending even more money.
As with many other passions and hobbies, there comes a point where cutting costs becomes essential when buying jerseys. Some people turn to fake jerseys; while prices are more affordable, you sacrifice quality, and there are also the moral implications for many people when it comes to buying counterfeit merchandise. There are, however, ways to get legit NBA jerseys for cheap! It’s not always easy, and requires a bit of searching, but we’ve highlighted several tips and tricks to get the jerseys you want at a more affordable price.
Where to find cheap legit jerseys:
- Sale/clearance section of retailers
Retailers are the safest and most reliable way to get jerseys. They are officially licensed by manufacturers to sell NBA jerseys, meaning you are going to get the real deal. Any issues with the jerseys and you can get them refunded or exchanged. Most jerseys from retailers will be listed at MSRP, which stands for (manufacturer’s suggested retail price). However, you’re here to get jerseys for cheap, AKA below retail.
Not to worry, many retailers have sales throughout the year, meaning there’s a chance that you can snag the jersey you want for below retail! Clearance sections offer even more discounts, however don’t expect them to have the best jersey and/or size selection available, as they are usually older items or for players who have switched teams. Also, since retailers cater to a larger audience, you’ll have to be quick to get the jersey you want if they do go on sale, since you’ll be competing with many others as well.
|Guaranteed authentic jerseyCan be refunded or exchangedFull buyer confidence||Infrequent sales/discountsJerseys on sale/clearance are often in low demandHave to be quick to get the good deals|
- Thrift stores
Thrift stores are the ultimate go-to for the budget-conscious buyer. Prices here will be significantly less than most other places, but that has it’s own costs. The jerseys can range from any condition, from brand new to heavily used (most items fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum). You’ll also have to be well-versed in doing your legit checks to see if you’re not buying a fake. You are also more likely to find older, vintage jerseys, so if you’re after a current jersey the thrift store.
Thrifting has always been popular, and some people find really great deals, but recently thrifting has become quite mainstream, and competition for the good pieces has really increased. You will have to check frequently, but the hunt is always fun!
|Extremely low prices|
Allows you to find older, vintage jerseys
|Selection is limited|
No guarantee of authenticity or good condition
- Check your local groups and marketplaces
Local marketplaces are a great option for jerseys! It can be a yard sale in your neighborhood or a buy/sell group on Facebook, just about anything and everything in between. Local marketplaces are especially useful since now you can browse through jerseys that your fellow citizens have to offer. With a wider selection, and the convenience of location, your options become more varied. Marketplace sellers are usually looking to get rid of unwanted items or are looking for some extra cash, so you’re bound to get good prices.
People often don’t know the value of their jerseys, which can work both ways. You’ll come across a genuine jersey priced quite low, or see many fakes or heavily used jerseys being listed for close to retail prices! With the right amount of time and research, you can make a good and quick deal within your local area. However, marketplace dealings can sometimes be difficult: whether it be the seller ghosting you, trying to scam you, or worse. Safety is important; it is recommended to have at least one person accompany you or meet in a public area just in case!
|Location is convenient|
Access to selection in your local and nearby areas
Can see the jersey in person before purchase
Good prices and can be negotiated
|No guarantee of authenticity or condition|
Sellers can be unreliable
Little to no buyer protection
- Check online marketplaces
Online marketplaces build upon what local marketplaces have to offer. Instead of just listings in your city, you now have access to jerseys from around the country or potentially around the world. Sites like eBay and Grailed have many listings, meaning you will surely come across a few that interest you. Prices will be varied, the really good deals will sell quickly, but more listings are posted every day.
You will come across many fakes, depending on the sites you are one. Some sites will provide buyer protection in case you do get an item that is inauthentic, so while it’s better to be careful, you should be able to get your money back. Sellers are also open to offers, although they might not be willing to negotiate as much as a local seller. All in all, online marketplaces are some the best places to check for the jersey you want.
|Incredibly large selection|
Variety of prices and can be negotiated
New listings every day
|Will find many fakes|
Wide audience means jerseys can sell quickly
If you are a sneakerhead, you might think that there’s no way you can get legit jerseys for cheap from a reseller. But quite contrary to the sneaker reselling scene, jersey resellers often sell a lot of jerseys for under retail! Some of the biggest jersey resellers sell their items for exclusively below retail or below market value for older jerseys. They are a great addition to the community, as they are jerseyheads before they are sellers, and are “by the community, for the community” in many instances.
There are quite a few jersey resellers, who mainly operate through social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, or may have a good presence on online marketplaces. You will find sellers with fakes, but a legit reseller stakes their reputation on their items being authentic. Many of them are often knowledgeable about jerseys as well, and are willing to walk you through a purchase. Finding a reputable reseller can create one of the safest buying experiences in our opinion, second to retailers only. While many have prices below retail/market value, prices are slightly higher: this is probably due to the reseller buying jerseys from the same sources we mentioned earlier!
|High buyer confidence|
Helpful and knowledgeable sellers
|Slightly higher prices (can be considered “sourcing” fee)|
It never hurts to turn to your peers! Quite often, collectors are looking to thin out some of their collection or try to finance their next purchases: this means they are willing to sell some of their other jerseys. Reputable collectors are up there in terms of buyer confidence; there’s a very low chance you walk away with a fake, and they are helpful and very passionate which is great. Many collectors usually put their jerseys up for good prices, since they are pretty knowledgeable and understand the importance of pricing themselves. However, some collectors can overprice their pieces, usually because they collect rarer items or attach a sentimental value to their jersey.
Willing to sell at good prices
Extremely knowledgeable and passionate about jerseys
High buyer confidence
|Prices may be overvalued due to rarity of jersey or sentimental value attached|
Jersey buying tips:
- The listed price is not the final price!
When it comes to marketplace dealings, negotiation is key. The price you see can, in many cases, be lowered even further. Most sellers are prepared to receive an offer, and are willing to work out the deal as long as you are reasonable and respectful (more on that later). On the other hand, the total cost of buying the jersey can very easily exceed the listed price. Factors like shipping and taxes need to be considered; if you are buying from outside of your country, think about the customs fees as well as currency conversion fees.
It’s important to have an understanding of the total cost, especially when comparing different offerings. The listed price can be misleading; maybe one seller is willing to negotiate while the other is firm on the price, or maybe one seller is local to you and the other is quite far. Understanding your total cost and becoming a strong negotiator are vital to getting the jerseys you want at the price you had in mind.
- Lowballing can backfire
The previous point touched on the importance of negotiation; this point will show why over negotiating can easily backfire. Lowballing is a popular term for when a prospective buyer gives the seller a really low offer, that is seen as unreasonable and maybe even disrespectful. Many sellers find this as a waste of their time, which can backfire for you quite easily. One scenario is that the seller blocks you, meaning now you can’t buy that jersey at any price. Another scenario, which happens more often than one would think, is that the seller plays along, “accepts” your offer, and schedules a meetup, then ghosts you when you show up. The message is clear: waste my time, I’ll waste yours. While the latter scenario is a bit dramatic and petty, it’s clear that lowballing can stop you from buying the jersey you wanted.
Lowballing is usually subjective and is therefore a fine line to tread. Sometimes the price could’ve been lowered even more, but it’s hard to know and often not worth it, and therefore a strategy that we don’t recommend.
- Know your telltale signs
When looking for cheap jerseys, it is very easy to delve into fakes territory. If you are a newer and more inexperienced buyer, you will have to learn the telltale signs of what’s a real jersey and what is not. Here are some examples:
- The newer versions of adidas jerseys (2nd generation and onwards) have a QR code tag located behind the wash tag.
- Nike Connect jerseys have a small circular chip in the jocktag, and the outline should be visible if you flip the jersey inside out.
- The newer Nike swingmans do not feature stitched lettering and numbers.
While exceptions do exist, learning the telltale signs are good to filter out the fakes. Ask for more pictures from the seller, the legit sellers will already anticipate it and will probably have the required photos posted already. As you see more and more jerseys, you will require less time to tell if something is a fake or not. To get a good idea, head on over to the r/basketballjerseys community on Reddit and check out the extensive guides they have for each era of jerseys.
- Always double check with an expert
It’s pretty common to see a jersey and be stumped; is it legit or fake? While this often happens with beginners, even experienced jersey buyers can be left scratching their heads sometimes. That’s why getting a second opinion is very helpful: a fresh set of eyes can help you see straight. In case you have any doubts, ask an expert! The jersey community is friendly and are always helping out with legit checks.
- Ask for tagged pictures
Some sellers with ill intentions can use misleading pictures to scam buyers: this could be by using someone else’s pictures, or using older pictures that are not accurate to the current condition of the jersey. A quick way to protect yourself is to ask for tagged pictures; that is, the seller attaches some sort of identification (could be their name written on a paper with the date as well) to ensure that the jersey is theirs and reflects the condition they have stated it is in.
- Everything can be faked
Counterfeiters work hard to make sure that the products they sell look closer to the original all the time. New buyers often fall into these traps: for example, they assume that an item with tags has to be real, when in fact tags are quite easy to replicate. Many counterfeiters are concerned with ensuring that the outward appearance is convincing; that’s why it is best to take a closer look and ask for inside tags to be more confident about the authenticity of the item you are buying.
- Buyer protection payment
Protect yourself as a buyer by using legitimate payment methods that can help you should the transaction go wrong. Many sellers will try to tell you to wire transfer the money, or use a “friends and family” option for payment. There is an element of risk involved here, so it’s better to use well-known payment methods that will help you rather than hinder you in the case that there’s an issue.
- Bundle deals are a better value for your money
If you are looking to buy a jersey from a seller, check if they have some other items you may be interested in! Most sellers are prepared to give you discounts when buying 2 or more items, so do not hesitate to negotiate a bundle deal! You are positioned well as a buyer to get better value for your money; one major benefit is the money saved when you can combine shipping.
- Money spent is NOT money saved!
It is important to distinguish “value” and the actual money that you pay. It is simple in theory, but many people continuously convince themselves otherwise! For example, if a $100 jersey has been discounted to $75, many convince themselves that they have saved $25, when in reality they have spent $75.
This can become quite unhealthy, especially if you become very bargain-oriented: you will start to buy things that you didn’t really want in the first place, because of the “value” you potentially save. Understanding this is important, especially if you are looking to save money or are in a tight spot financially. Think before you buy, and spend money on the things you really want instead!
- Sometimes, it’s best to pay a little extra
The last tip is one of the most important tips of this guide. While the main goal has been to spend a little less where possible, there are several pros and cons to the methods we have listed in this guide. For example, you may save a few dollars here and there for a jersey purchase: but you might have to wait weeks for it to be shipped to you, or you can’t be sure if the jersey is legit or not. Sometimes just the price is not the only thing to be considered: shipping time, authenticity guarantee, buyer experience, and other factors are important. When accounting for all these things, you’ll realize that in many scenarios paying slightly more is in your best interest.
In reality, the title of this guide should be “How to get legit jerseys for cheaper,” because jerseys aren’t cheap. It is a fantasy that you can buy all the legit jerseys you want for, let’s say, $20 each. The purpose of this guide is not to insinuate that; rather, it is just a combination of tips to help you spend less on jerseys. In order to derive the full value of this guide, it is vital to keep that in mind.
We hope this guide has made it clear that buying legit jerseys for cheap isn’t some fairytale, but instead very possible. It will require quite a bit of time and effort, and depending on the source, can be slightly risky, but overall doable. The buyer tips we have mentioned should also help you in your journey of bargain-hunting for legit jerseys. Let us know if you have more tips to share with the community!
This article was researched by Ali Siddiqui.