The NBA’s Fashion Statement


The NBA recently made the decision to switch from Adidas to Nike to be their brand ambassador when playing in alternate jerseys. These jerseys can be flashy and representative of their respective cities and teams, and some of them plain looking and seemingly fitting (no pun intended) of their franchises, have mixed reviews. A team’s jersey is significant, it’s more than just a number and name recognition. Jerseys resemble and represent the state and city. The jersey itself is a statement to their fans and to other teams.

Dikembe Mutombo in a classic Denver Nuggets jersey.

The NBA is famous for having fashionable and iconic jerseys with some teams having several alternate and throwback jerseys. Both having varying styles and designs making them not only recognizable but also much different from other sports franchises. Use the NFL and NHL as examples. I’ll be ranking the top 10 jerseys from the most eye-catching to boring and forgettable. I won’t be including any jerseys that look too much like the jerseys that teams have had last year or in years past.

Based on looks alone, OKC’s jersey is not only big and bold, but the colors are true to the franchise. In big orange letters, “OKC” is written on the front of the jersey, proudly displaying that this is their turf. Black tops and bottoms are a subtle way of accenting the orange and blue on the outlines of their tank top and shorts. I’m going to look forward to seeing Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and big man Steven Adams tearing up the hardwood in these threads.

Golden State’s new jersey is a close second. You rarely see the Warriors not play in the bright white and blue jerseys. Sporting the black with yellow trimmings is a refreshing look along with an additional centerpiece; this is the icing on the cake. In large white letters on the front of the jersey, it spells out “THE TOWN”. Just below that, a tree with several branches sprawled out symbolizing Oakland and the Bay Area. It’s artistic, different, and creative. This is certainly one of the best jerseys I’ve seen in a long time.

Taking the third place spot on my list is Philadelphia. This is a struggling franchise that is taking new form with new players like Ben Simmons who bring a revitalized sense of hope and motivation. What better way to start off the upcoming season with a new jersey? Since the days of Allen Iverson, the Sixers walked away from the classic black jerseys to the red, white and blue jerseys. This new jersey features an elegant and tasteful cursive “Sixers” printed on the front with corresponding player numbers underneath. This is a unique approach and speaks to the saying that some basketball fans call, “poetry in motion.” Three words for this jersey: Crisp. Clean. Classic.

The Memphis Grizzlies jerseys are analogous to the “Color Rush” jerseys used in the NFL. The Grizzlies feature a color calls “Beale Street Blue.” Black and grey lettering line the front with black and gold stripes along the side of the jersey. Not only do these pop, but they are overall sleek and sharp. This is the best-looking jersey Vince Carter is going to wear aside from the ones he wore in Toronto during the late 90s.

One jersey that surprised me was the Indiana Pacers. Personally, the last great line of Pacers jerseys worn was when Reggie Miller was rocking them on the 3-point line. Indiana improved on their alternate jerseys with accentuated, curved lettering around the player’s numbers. This is a huge upgrade and the bright yellow tops and bottoms may very well be a foreshadow on their upcoming season.

When Charlotte was thinking of the design of their new jerseys,

1999 release of the Air Jordan Fives (logo pictured).

they looked to one person to inspire them with creativity. That man was Michael Jordan. Owner of the Charlotte Hornets, and North Carolina native, Jordan implemented a small change that made a huge difference in these jerseys. Charlotte became the first NBA team to sponsor the Jordan logo on their jerseys. The Hornets jerseys are quite similar to the ones in years past, but the small white Jordan logo sitting on the right shoulder of all those players makes it all the more awesome. Are they the new Michigan of NBA basketball? They very well could be. Now, all they need is a Jim Harbaugh-esque coach and they’re all set. Seeing Kemba Walker with a Jumpman logo is going to be too sweet. Jordan jerseys. ‘Nuff said.

Famed neon green Seattle Seahawks jersey.

While we’re on the topic of football, Russell Wilson, and Pete Carroll if my sources are correct, sat in on the meeting when the Minnesota Timberwolves developed their new jerseys. These new alternates vastly differ from the ones used before. Especially in the 90s when Kevin Garnett played in the black and green jerseys. Minnesota’s new jersey showcases a bright lime-yellow green with navy and white accents. While it’s certainly different, I don’t quite see how these are in any way relevant to their old ones. Last I checked, these guys are playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, not the Seattle Seahawks.

Dark colors must have been the theme seeing has almost half of the team’s jerseys display a black or dark blue. One such team that perfected this was Houston. Their primary team colors are red and white, and utilizing black as the main color may confuse Rockets fans with Toronto or Portland. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The only downside to this is, while the black on black is well-defined, it’s been done plenty of times and it can be forgettable.

Detroit Pistons alternate jerseys from the late 2000s. Photo by Keith Allison.

Coming in at number 9, we have a two-way tie between Cleveland and Phoenix. Both teams stayed true to their colors and franchises, but they’re quite boring. There seemed like there was a lack of effort. Cleveland looks too similar to jerseys that they already use, and the lettering that the Suns used looks choppy and unattractive. The Cavaliers already have a lot of alternate jerseys, but it doesn’t seem like too much of a loss. Phoenix, you can do better.

Last and certainly not least, top it all off at number 10, Detroit. If you haven’t had a chance to catch a glimpse of the Piston’s effort at a new jersey, save yourself a click. A drab gray-slate color canvases most of the jersey aside from the blue and red lettering highlights. Lazy, dull, and stale with a vast array of other words wouldn’t do this jersey justice. Their uniform used when Iverson played for Detroit would’ve done way better.

The full line-up of jerseys to check out on the NBA’s press release of the Statement Jerseys are here.



Note: The feature page image is licensed for use by the NBA and under copyright for Michael Tipton. Link to the origin of the image can be found here, along with guidelines for appropriate use.

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