CLEVELAND, Ohio-- Cavs fans geared up for game four Friday as the NBA cracked down on counterfeit merchandise being sold on the streets outside Quicken Loans Arena.
The Cavaliers Team Shop was crowded with fans from across the country getting official NBA Finals attire Friday. Overall sales on NBAStore.com are up 35 percent since the start of the Finals compared with last season, according to the NBA.
However, authorities also saw a spike in fake merchandise on the streets of Cleveland. Police confiscated more than 270 counterfeit items surrounding Wednesday's game, according to NBA officials.
"They're actually professional counterfeiters that follow winning teams, and they really prey on the fans in the local markets," NBA Vice President and Counsel Anil George said.
George said fans will not be penalized for buying counterfeit gear. Local authorities planned to investigate the shirt printers for possible criminal charges, sources said.
"Fans are really not at fault here, but fans can be victims, so our job is to inform fans what to look for," George said.
He said counterfeit merchandise often pales in quality compared with legitimate attire, and ink can bleed when laundered or the material can wear quickly. Official merchandise has a holographic sticker with an NBA logo, as well as a label by and NBA licensee.
Fans also bought custom-designed gear at GV Art and Design in Lakewood. "Sales definitely reflect the mood of the city," co-owner George Vlosich said. GV Art and Design has unveiled shirts each round of the playoffs, including two during the Finals.
"Leading up to the Finals, it was packed, and then after game one it kind of slowed down a little bit, and game two it was like, 'oh geez,' and kind of like, 'here we go again,' and then obviously the win a couple days ago, that helped," he said.
Vlosich said they sometimes have designs in mind that they wait years to release but have the ability to produce new shirts in just a day.