Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Classic matching dudes: the 10 best NBA jerseys throughout history

A sports uniform offers one of the only imaginable excuses for being a matching dude.  As the NBA playoffs really heat up, it seems appropriate to honor some of the greatest jerseys donned by professional basketball teams.  This is just one interpretation; please don't be upset if your team gets snubbed.  Yeah, it was cool that Dennis Johnson led the Sonics to the 1979 title, but Seattle just doesn't rock the coolest threads.  Maybe it's all the rain, or the anachronistic hippie culture.  Anyways, here are ten(ish) jerseys that made dudes proud to be matching, after the jump.

This post is part 1 of a series about NBA jerseys.  Check back soon for more about matching dudes in the NBA.

Jersey designs today have become so fancy and colorful that you can hardly tell them apart.  They usually look decent, but one rarely stands out from the rest.  Back in the day, though, most teams went with more basic looks, so a unique jersey could make quite the impression.  Here are ten from before the 2000s that left lasting legacies (pre-merger ABA teams are included).  Let us know in the comments if we missed any.

10.  Bulls jersey with script
 This Bulls design brought an elegant perspective to the team's classic look.  It was worn by greats like Chet Walker, Jerry Sloan, and Norm van Lier, a Western Pa. favorite.

9.  Red, white, and blue
There's nothing better than supporting your country while enjoying a game of basketball, which I'd argue is even more American than baseball.  Thank you James Naismith.  Especially around the time of America's bicentennial, teams in historic cities like New York, Philly, and DC were fond of plastering their jerseys with stars, stripes and anything else red, white, and and blue.  Nice.

8.  Jordan's Bulls jersey

Some jerseys just look sweet, some are defined by the team that wears them, and some are made great by a single, legendary athlete.  Jordan was big enough to single-handedly make the Bulls jersey he sported one of basketball's most iconic, and his comeback in number 45 added another dimension of history.  He had a great supporting cast, but there's a reason that Michael Jordan has the best-selling jersey of all time. 

7.  Red and green Bucks

I don't know why, I just like this color scheme.  It's kinda Christmasy.   Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wore this shirt back in its heyday.  They tried to bring back a similar design more recently, but it just didn't have the same effect.

6.  Sixers, 1965-67

This two-tone arrangement from the Sixers was awesome.  Looked fly on Wilt the Stilt, but was simple enough to not look ridiculous when Iverson and Co. brought it back a few years ago.  Plus, only writing "Phila" on the front is a hilariously lazy abbreviation, although not unique to this design.

5.  Magic pinstripes

These jerseys were super cool.  So cool that many other teams, like the Bulls and Pacers, have tried to replicate the design (with mixed success).  I don't mean to say that I'm a fan of all pinstriped jerseys; the Yankees can go to hell.  But when the Magic unveiled this pattern for the team's first season, it definitely set a precedent for classy, simple jerseys that were interesting enough to sell in stores.

4.  MPLS-Minneapolis Lakers
Tar Heel Blue will always be a great color for basketball jerseys, and this Minneapolis Lakers shirt was no exception.  It was worn by George Mikan's crew during the team's time as a Midwestern fixture, a dominant franchise before the move to Los Angeles made it a symbol of greed, ego, and commercialism.

3.  The "ugly" Nuggets jersey
This colorful arrangement may be one of the most maligned in NBA history.  It consistently tops lists of the ugliest jerseys ever.  Those analyses, however, are too superficial.  This jersey has some really cool features.  Perhaps most importantly, it utilized graphic print in a way that most teams hadn't really discovered yet.  Once they did, a lot of ugly jerseys were made, but this one still made a key contribution to jersey design.   Also, it uses a very artistic take on the team's hometown identity, displaying Denver's skyline against a backdrop of mountains.  Finally, it's just a unique uniform.  The Nuggets took a risk with this jersey, and even though plenty of people hate it, that has to be worth something. 

2.  "The City"
 One of two NBA jerseys ever to feature neither team name nor location.  It was a pretty ballsy move for the Warriors, considering that basically nobody outside of the Bay Area refers to San Francisco as "the city."  Certainly confused plenty of proud New Yorkers and other rival fans that the Warriors faced.  Combined with the artwork, which features Golden Gate Bridge on the front and the world famous cable car on the back, this jersey displayed plenty of Northern California pride.  It's also influenced Warriors jerseys since then, which have adopted some of its symbols.

1.  The green and blue Hawks jersey
Like the Nuggets jersey shown earlier, this Hawks uniform catches plenty of flack from haters who think it's ugly.  From an aesthetic perspective, though, I think it's a really cool uniform.  Bold colors, bold design, but nothing too crazy.  It's also a very important uniform historically, as it made two advances that drastically changed NBA apparel.  First, it represents the very first use of the NBA logo on the shorts.  Now a staple of NBA gear, the Jerry West silhouette first showed up on shorts in this set.  Also, the green version was the first "alternate" or "third jersey" ever worn by an NBA team, which in addition to extra revenue simply spices up the available lineup of jerseys.  Many of the really cool shirts worn by players today are alternates; they might not exist if Pistol Pete's Hawks hadn't acted as trailblazers.


Anonymous said...

90's rockets jerseys from the steve francis era

Scoops said...

what about the old school raptors jerseys from the Vince Carter days?

Jack said...

wheres the new orleans jazz jersey on there?