Nike designs private jet for NBA teams


Nike and a Seattle design firm have joined forces for a private jet interior that has been tailored for NBA basketball teams.

The beds on board Nike’s NBA private jet can comfortably sleep 7 ft tall basketball players.

Nike has teamed up with Teague, a design house in Seattle, to design a private jet for flying professional basketball teams to away games.

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The concept – named Home-Team Advantage at 40,000 ft – has been conceived to improve the travelling conditions for NBA teams, in order to combat the statistic from a 2008 study, which showed that travelling professional baseball teams that cross three time zones are 60 per cent more likely to lose their game.


Players will be able to hydate and receive vital self-serve nutrition after their game.

Imagine a West Coast basketball team heading to New York for a game. They are boarding a chartered flight. Today there is a lot riding on this game—anticipating fans, big money; multimillion-dollar contracts are at stake. Now, imagine your favorite center at 7-plus feet folding himself into the classic airplane seat, airplane noise, dehydrating air, standard airplane meals. Even on a chartered flight, the smallest inconveniences and discomforts of flying take their toll, leaving athletes drained and depleted by the time they arrive at their game.

Before starting the design phase of the project, Teague and Nike “conducted interviews with team physicians, coaches, operations staff, and sleep specialists working with both collegiate and professional teams.” The design teams identified four main areas to concentrate on: recovery, circulation, sleep and thinking.


A separate zone will allow players who don’t want to sleep to socialise with each other.

The project has not progressed beyond paper yet, but the images from Teague suggest that the interior design will be installed on large, converted airliners such as the Boeing BBJ1 or Airbus ACJ318. The aircraft depicted is dimly-lit with a futuristic-looking interior that includes Nike branding throughout the cabin.

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Features include a self-serve nutrition zone, massage tables, 7 ft long beds that allow independent elevation of both legs and back-seat monitors that provide analysis based on the information received from the technology worn by the players during the game.


Monitors on the back of the seats will provide the players will post-match analysis.

A big opportunity in the design of the airplane interior is the proper zoning of spaces in order to cater to the unique needs of athletes, coaches, and support staff. Factors we pay particular attention to include foot traffic, noise and light disturbances, climate control, privacy, and social habits. The Athlete’s Plane—a sky-high, pre- and post-game training and treatment facility—gives our basketball team the competitive edge they need to succeed when it counts most: traveling to and from games.

Nike already owns its own Gulfstream G550 private jet (N1972N / msn 5121); it features a lively orange-and-white paint scheme and is customised with Nike’s trademark ‘tick’ on the tail and the soles of training shoes painted underneath the wings.

Gulfstream G550 N1972N

Nike’s Gulfstream G550 business jet (Photo: Russell Hill).

The NBA’s top players are no strangers to private aviation either; Michael Jordan famously owns a Gulfstream IV private jet, which includes a tasteful blue-and-white paint scheme and the silhouette of a slam-dunking Jordan on the tail of the aircraft.

The carefully-chosen tail number N236MJ incorporates Jordan’s jersey number (23) and the number of championship rings which he won throughout his career (six).

Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade are both frequent users of Apollo Jets, a private charter company headquartered in New York. O’Neal also bought his ex-wife her own Gulstream when the pair were married, which featured her name painted across the fuselage and a very large representation of her face on the tail.

“The Hawker 800 is the best,” the 7 ft ex-basketball player said in a 2010 interview on private aviation with Jetset Magazine.

Magic Johnson is another proponent of private jets and made headlines in 2012 when Lanita Thomas, who worked as a flight attendant on board Johnson’s Gulfstream III (N32MJ) for eight years, claimed she was fired for being too old.

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In an interview earlier this year, David Edinger, the president and CEO of Comlux America, a US company which specialises in designing and building interiors for Airbus and Boeing private airliners, said he had worked on two aircraft completion projects for professional basketball teams in a previous job – but would not specify which teams.

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