Difference Between Replica and Authentic NBA Jerseys Explained

In this article we will discuss the difference between replica and authentic NBA basketball jerseys. I own and review all 5 types of NBA jerseys. Quickly, here’s what you need to know:

  • Nike Swingman – This is Nike’s more affordable replica option. These are very popular among fans, but they are not embroidered. Great option if you don’t want to pay up for the embroidered authentic jerseys. Slim fit, if you prefer baggy, size up. Click here to view the Nike Swingman jerseys at NBAStore.com (affiliate link takes you to NBAStore.com).
  • Nike Authentic – These are the authentic jerseys. These jerseys have all the premium finishes, including stitched numbers and graphics. They have a slim fit, and you will need to size up if you prefer a baggy fit. Click here to view the Nike Authentic jerseys at NBAStore.com (affiliate link takes you to NBAStore.com).
  • Fanatics Fast Break Jersey – Another affordable replica jersey. It is made by Fanatics, not Nike. If you are operating on a tight budget, I suggest checking it out. These are not stitched. This jersey has a true-to-size regular fit. Click here to view the Fanatics Fast Break jerseys at NBAStore.com (affiliate link takes you to NBAStore.com).
  • Mitchell & Ness Swingman – Mitchell & Ness makes classic throwback jerseys. The Swingman version is the more affordable option, but these jerseys still have awesome quality, including stitched graphics on most jerseys. This jersey is not as slim as the Nike jerseys. I recommend ordering your normal sizing. Click here to view the Mitchell & Ness Swingman throwback collection at NBAStore.com (affiliate link takes you to NBAStore.com).
  • Mitchell & Ness Authentic – These are also throwback authentic jerseys. They are stitched. These authentic throwbacks are some of the most coveted fan jerseys. Click here to view the Mitchell & Ness Authentic jerseys at NBAStore.com (affiliate link takes you to NBAStore.com).

This is the jersey type that I recommend as best NBA fan jersey due to it’s combination of comfort, quality, and style (affiliate link takes you to NBAStore.com).

If you are looking for the jersey of a current NBA player, you have 3 options:

  • Nike Authentic
  • Nike Swingman
  • Fanatics Fast Break

In this article let’s discuss the difference between the replica and authentic NBA jerseys so that you have a better idea which one makes more sense for you.


4 Biggest Differences Between Authentic and Replica NBA Jerseys

  1. Stitching – The NBA Authentic jerseys have the sewn-on letters, numbers, and logos. This can be a very big deal to jersey enthusiasts and also helps extend the life of the jersey. Details below.
  2. Length – The Authentic jerseys have a couple extra inches of built in length in comparison to the replica NBA jerseys. Pictures below.
  3. Jersey Material/Construction – The NBA Authentic jerseys will use a more premium stretch material in comparison to the replica jerseys, and also will have the authentic construction, like the waist hem vents pictured below.
  4. Price – There is a significant difference in price between the premium authentic NBA jerseys and the more affordable replicas.

Authentic vs Replica NBA jerseys

Stitched Graphics

The Nike Authentic jerseys have sewn-on graphics, while the Nike Swingman and the Fanatics Fast Break jersey have screen-printed graphics. Here is a look at the stitched graphics of my Nike Authentic compared to the screen-printed graphics of my Nike Swingman:

Nike Authentic


Nike Swingman


As you can see, the Nike Swingman replica jerseys have a heat-sealed graphic instead of the premium stitched-on graphics of the Nike Authentic jerseys. This is something you will have to weigh in relation to price.

Here is a look at the graphics of the Fanatics Fast Break Jersey:

Fanatics Fast Break


The Fanatics Fast Break replica jersey graphics (as you can see above) are flexible, which gives the jersey a lightweight, comfortable feel against your skin. The Fast Break jersey is the most affordable jersey out of all the NBA jerseys, meaning it will be missing the premium details of the Nike jerseys, but this does not mean it isn’t a cool option. If you are operating on a tight budget, it is a good way to rep a player and save some money too. Here is mine:


Length and Fit

Both the Nike Authentic jerseys and the Nike Swingman jerseys have a slim fit that you will want to size up if you are in between sizes. The Fanatics Fast Break jerseys have a regular fit that runs true to size. For more information on fit, visit my article: How do NBA jerseys fit?


The Nike Authentic jerseys come with a couple extra inches of length built in. Here is a look at my Nike Authentic jersey compared to my Nike Swingman replica jersey:


As you can see, there is added length in the Nike Authentic jerseys to mimic the length of the jerseys the players wear on the floor during games. The Fanatics Fast Break replica jerseys have a littlbe bit more length than th Nike Swingman replica jerseys (but fit looser), but don’t have as much length as the authentic jerseys do.

Here is my Nike Swingman replica compared to my Fanatics Fast Break replica jersey:


Jersey Construction

The Nike Authentic jerseys use the premium stretch material that also has breathable sections throughout the jersey. The replica jerseys just have a basic material throughout. This isn’t likely a huge deal unless you are a jersey collector or enthusiast because the replica jersey material is still very comfortable and easy to wear.

Nike Authentic Material


Nike Swingman Replica Material


Fanatics Fast Break Replica Material


You can also expect certain jersey construction difference between the Nike Authentics and the other replica jerseys. For example, here is a look at the waist hem vents in the Nike Authentic jersey I own, compared to the Nike Swingman replicas:


If you want to read more about these 3 types of jerseys, click the links below to visit my review articles:

To browse through all of our jersey review and comparison articles, visit our NBA jersey resource page.

Where to Buy NBA Jerseys

This is where you can browse the jerseys at NBAStore.com (affiliate link takes you to NBAStore.com). Because there are potentially fake jerseys on the re-sale market, we always recommend you to buy your jerseys from a reputable source like NBAStore.com, which is the official online shop of the NBA.

Paul Johnson

Paul has been with us from our beginnings. He focuses on a wide range of sports, including NFL, NBA, MLB and golf.

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