NBA: Best Uniforms

August 27th, 2008

By: Preetom Bhattacharya

With several NBA teams set to unveil new uniforms for next season, HOOPSWORLD decided to make the foray into fashion by judging which teams have the best designs for their jerseys.

Although the extent of this particular writer's fashion acumen is the occasional viewing of Project Runway, it isn't hard to see how NBA Jerseys have evolved in recent years with more prominent block lettering and basic trim. The days of the jersey variety provided by quirky eccentricities have ended, as we say goodbye to each team's unique take on what to emblazon upon their uniforms.

A quick trip down nostalgia lane, for better or worse, before moving on to the best of today's league. Remember those...

- Purple Phoenix Suns jerseys with the blazing basketball treaking across the chest?
- Pinstriped Chicago Bulls jerseys?
- Multi-colored Denver Nuggets jerseys with the skyline and Rocky Mountains?
Detroit Pistons jerseys with the horsepower represented with exhaust pipes (and a horse)?
- Cartoon animals or fonts prominently displayed on the chest of the the mid-90s Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies, and Toronto Raptors uniforms?

In any case, it's time to move on from the past and take a look at what teams are doing now. The best maintain sense of their own identity in their duds, never lost among the fray.

Keeping it Simple

There's something to be said about a classic look that never really changes. Four teams in particular have seemed to embrace that concept, the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs.

Quite literally the gold standard, the Lakers are the only team that doesn't wear white at home (except on Sundays), combining gold with the "forum blue" (aka purple) to create a truly iconic look. The team hasn't changed the overall look of the uniforms for good reason, except for changing the shape of the shoulder straps.

As the team with the most championships in the league, the Boston Celtics have kept as simple as they can when it comes to their jerseys. Some may say it's plain to have an austere "CELTICS" spread across the chest, but there certainly is something charming to the crisp and clean white and green, isn't there? The team has occasionally threw in a shamrock or introduced black here and there, but the old-school staple is still the winning formula.

Could one of the NBA's most fundamental players, Tim Duncan, play in a more fundamentally sound uniform? The Spurs have stuck to the unfussy black and silver combination for years and are one of the few teams still using the tank-top style rather than the broad-shouldered version most teams use now. The logo is simple but unique to the team and it's Texas roots and the team avoids making things busy.

The Portland Trail Blazers have basically maintained the same logo and jersey since their inception in the 1970s, and with good reason. The team's logo is one of the most unique in the league and has a great trivia behind it: the logo is a representation of two basketball teams lined up against each other, five-on-five in opposite colors (there's always red for the Blazers and the other five are either black, silver, or white for the other team). The team has kept the logo and maintained the "blaze" two-toned diagonal on the jersey since winning the championship in 1977.

A Refreshed Look

One of the nicer newer jerseys is the one the Cleveland Cavaliers introduced after drafting LeBron James in 2003. The updated look served as a bit of an homage to Cavs teams in the past, hearkening back to the squad's original wine and gold colors of the 70s while also maintaining a hint of blue to honor some of the success the team achieved in the 90s, when orange and blue were the primary colors.

Plus, anything is better than the "tiger stripe" black and light blue uniforms of the mid-90s.

Truly Retro

The NBA's "Hardwood Classic" nights are fan favorites for the opportunity to see jerseys from the teams' fashion history. By far the best retro jerseys, though, are those of the Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors.

Before moving to a primary red color in the mid-70s, the Hawks briefly featured a weird green and blue combo in the early 70s. The blue road jerseys in particular, though, were a great look (the green? Not so much). You may recall the players' named being beneath their numbers .. and Pete Maravich simply having "PISTOL" written for his.

Widely considered the best NBA jersey ever, though, is the Golden State Warriors' "The City" uniforms. The team donned these in mid-to-late-60s and the look is still great for today's Bay Area franchise, with a cable car (housing the numbers) on the back and a bridge prominently displayed on the front. With "The City" on the front, the Warriors jersey itself screamed confidence, perfectly capturing the unique Bay Area flavor on the jersey. A bonus? Like many college teams, the original jersey did not include player names, making the uniform literally more about "the crest on the chest than the name on the back."

Disagree?... did we neglect your favorite jersey?.. drop a line in the comments section below and set us straight.