The Step Back’s NBA Holiday Shopping Guide

Dec 13, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith (5) reacts missing a three-point shot attempt in the third quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 13, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith (5) reacts missing a three-point shot attempt in the third quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

It being December and all, it’s that time of year to buy gifts for friends and family. And if your friend or family member is an NBA junkie, it’s the best time to buy them a unique, thoughtful NBA-theme gift, whether they are a hard core fan interested in advanced stats or the casual fan who mostly pays attention to star players.

There is a gift for everyone on your list and The Step Back has suggestions for any NBA fan on your list

For the biggest J.R. Smith fan on your list

If the NBA fan your buying for is into the funnier aspects of the NBA, then Fresh Brewed Tees — a Cleveland-based apparel company — has you covered. They sell a t-shirt drawn detail by detail to replicate J.R. Smith’s shirtless chest. Yes, you read that right. The shirt, which retails for $34.99, has all of Smith’s torso tattoos on both the front and back. You might want to pick up a bottle of champagne to go with it for safety purposes. If a faux ugly sweater is your thing, then they also sell a ‘Frosty the Shumpman’ sweatshirt or a ‘Home Alone’ spoof sweater featuring Kevin Love instead of Macaulay Culkin.

For other shirtless souls on your list

We’ve been lucky enough to work with some really talented illustrators here at The Step Back, and in our previous iteration as the Hardwood Paroxysm Basketball Network. Some of those illustrators have turned their work in t-shirts. Living in the upper-midwest? How about a Cavaliers championship parade shirt from Daniel Rowell? Prefer a “Thibs eats Farts” homage to the Minnesota Timberwolves from Austin Gilmore? Maybe a Lance Stephenson Blew It hoodie from Todd Whitehead? Good people, doing fun stuff.

For the advanced stat nerd on your list

We currently live in an age of good, useful NBA data being made available for free on sites like nbawowy, Basketball-Reference and the NBA’s stats page. But if you have a friend who wants to take it up another level, Synergy Sports has deep dives available for the NBA, WNBA and college. The NBA package is a bit expensive at $29.99 a month, but hey, it’s the holidays.

For fan of 90s big men on your list

Apparel company Homage recently launched a vintage NBA t-shirt line featuring designs featuring the likes of Stockon and Malone, the 1990s Nets logo and more. Just a few days ago, they also added four tees featuring designs of 90s big man icons David Robinson, Manute Bol, Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo. The Mutombo shirt stands out, if he only because he’s wearing the old Nuggets rainbow uniform and wagging his finger.

For the book worm on your list

There are a number of great NBA books out there — “The Breaks of the Game”, Jack McCallum’s Dream Team book, etc. — but right now, there may not be a better one than Jonathan Abrams’ book on the preps to pros generation. It goes into extensive detail of the stars, but also covers the guys you might have forgotten about. There’s also a great story about Kevin Garnett and Janet Jackson that remains the best basketball anecdote I’ve ever read.

For the sneakerhead on your list

Sneakers are an expensive habit and sometimes a hard hobby to support if you happen to not click fast enough to purchase whatever shoe your after. To avoid spending too much and to give your friend a look at the history of basketball kicks, get them SLAM Magazine’s book on the history of sneakers. And if you have Amazon Prime, it’ll be here before the 25th.

For the person you’re trying to get into the NBA

The key to hooking someone onto the NBA is finding them a player they like watching. Right now, that best choice for someone to get hyped about would be Giannis Antetokounmpo. Everything he does — from his play, to his persona, to his story — is just fun. To hook your friend, get them a Giannis shirsey, pull up some YouTube clips and prepare for them to ask for League Pass login information.

For the person still on Waiters Island

Look, letting go can be hard. And with rent prices lower than ever, it’s hard to sell that condo on Waiters Island. For $80, you can get that person still holding out hope (cough, me, cough) this Waiters plaque with a game used ball from his half season with the Thunder. At the very least, the recipient will have a nice office piece.

For the person who needs dope NBA wall art of actual good players

Illustrator Ryan Simpson has what I think is the best collection of NBA art available online right now. He sells portraits of NBA icons (as well as some rappers and other American icons) in his shop and each piece is pretty affordable. The best of his NBA options: Lowry and DeRozan, Tim Duncan and Dirk.

For the person that’s still a Sonics fan

The best present you could give a Sonics fan is an arena not paid for with public money, but I’m assuming you aren’t a billionaire. There are actually a good number of Sonics gifts options still available — including a Kevin Durant shirsey! — but our pick is a Shawn Kemp throwback jersey from Mitchell & Ness. It’ll run you a cool $299.99, but that’s a lot less than the money it’ll cost for a new arena.

For hipster NBA people on your list

Somewhat surprisingly, Etsy has a number of amazing vintage jerseys for the person on your list who likes throwback options. A few of the best choices: A teal Vancouver Grizzles Mike Bibby jersey, a rainbow Allen Iverson Nuggets jersey and a Bill Murray “Space Jam” jersey.

For the friend who wants to watch basketball come August

The NBA can’t go all year, unfortunately. But it just so happens there’s another league you watch while the NBA is off and it features a number of amazing players who can dazzle you in ways NBA stars can’t.

The league is the WNBA and while you can’t purchase it now, their league pass typically costs a fraction of the NBA version. So set aside $30 or so and buy them WNBA League Pass when it becomes available again.