Over the past couple of years, the NBA has been experimenting with short-sleeved jerseys that resemble more an Under Armour compression t-shirt than your traditional NBA jersey. NBA fans have mixed opinions on whether the wardrobe change is right or not for the NBA, but mixing things up now and then can be a good thing. Even if an idea flops, experimenting with different designs and colors can be fun. Throughout NBA history, teams have tried out different things to represent their city and team as best as possible. Sometimes the changes are for the better, but at other times, the changes are unforgivable.
A good jersey is the Brooklyn Nets jersey. Ever since the Nets moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn two years ago, they had a complete makeover with their branding - starting with their jerseys. Leading the design campaign was none other than rapper Jay-Z. The new Brooklyn Nets jersey has a classic look and feel to it. There is no mention of the Nets on the jersey, but the word “Brooklyn” is stitched on the front of the jersey instead. The font is tall, sharp, and slim. And there is a very simple two-color scheme of black and white on the jersey. That’s about it. There is no logo or mascot on the jersey. It is just really clean and simple – the way a jersey should be.
A bad jersey is one that tries too hard. Instead of looking clean and simple, there is just too much going on. There is a whole spectrum of colors that decorates the jersey, some kind of animal or mascot that looks out of place, and these jerseys typically lack in the intimidation department. Jerseys are the working uniforms for NBA players and nobody wants to look like a clown unless they're a real circus clown. Unfortunately, some teams have made some egregious fashion errors over the decades.
Here are ten of the biggest eyesores that NBA teams have fashionably designed throughout NBA history.
10 Atlanta Hawks 1995-1999
After the Dominique Wilkins era in 1994, the Atlanta Hawks needed a new look for their franchise. Most NBA jerseys do not have a logo on their jersey because it can make the jersey look a bit cluttered. The Atlanta Hawks have a giant Hawk on the front of the jersey holding a basketball, which overpowers the word “Hawks” stitched on the front. But the most heinous error of this jersey is how it changes color from black to red. Instead of two distinct colors, the black and red slowly transition into each other, making it look a bit too much like tie dye.
9 Detroit Pistons 1996-2001
The Detroit Pistons went from the classic red, white, and blue to an awkward blue, black, yellow, and red. The color scheme does not seem to work well on this jersey. They put an intimidating horse on the jersey to symbolize horsepower and the auto-city of Detroit, however, the logo looks too crowded behind the word “Pistons.”
Furthermore, they have the word “Pistons” on a slant going from big to small in size. Couple that with their numbers looking more curvy than block shaped and the jersey just looks too childish.
8 Sacramento Kings 2005-2008
Purple is a royal and regal color. Kings possess a lot of gold. But when purple and gold are on a NBA jersey, it just does not work. This jersey looks more like lingerie because of its silky texture and cursive writing. When you are competing in the NBA, you want to scare your opponents, but this jersey wouldn’t scare a freshman basketball team in high school. Three years was too longer for this jersey to be in Sacramento.
7 Phoenix Suns 2003-2012
The Phoenix Suns had some of their best year between 2003-2012. Steve Nash was a two-time MVP and they were the modern version of the Showtime Lakers. Their shoot in 8 seconds or less offense led by Coach Mike D’Antoni was the hottest thing in the NBA. However, their jerseys were less than desirable. The Phoenix Suns have revamped their jerseys this year, but it is hardly a major improvement. However, anything beats the orange and gray color scheme, especially when the gray runs along the sides of the jerseys. In the ‘90’s the Suns had a dark purple palette, but now they just look like a bunch of Oompa Loompas running around in all that orange.
6 San Antonio Spurs 2012 – Present
The San Antonio Spurs are run like the military. Their coach – Gregg Popovich – was an Air Force graduate and runs his team like a general. Additionally, San Antonio has a large military base in the city. So, the Spurs wanted to honor the military once a year with a game dedicated to them. The Spurs should be commended for expressing their gratitude on such a large scale, but they should be critiqued for their camouflage jerseys. Granted, pulling off a camouflage jersey is very difficult, but these need an extreme makeover.
5 New Orleans Hornets 2008-2013
The New Orleans Hornets are now called the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelican is the state bird of the state of Louisiana and the colors of Mardi Gras are purple, yellow, and green. So, it isn't a surprise for New Orleans to replicate these colors. Purple, green, and yellow clash and that is a part of their appeal, however, it is one thing to wear purple, green, and yellow bead necklaces and another thing to wear a purple, green, and yellow jerseys. These jerseys are simple looking, but have too much clashing going on. The front is mostly purple, but the back is mostly green; making it look more confused than anything else.
4 Denver Nuggets 1981-1993
These Denver Nuggets jerseys are now retro and vintage, so they can either go on the best jerseys of all-time list or the worst jerseys of all-time list. These retro jerseys have the city skyline of Denver on it, along with a giant rainbow across the chest. I’ve been to Denver before and they have some of the best rainbows you will ever see. But for some reason, it’s hard to imagine a NBA championship team winning the Finals with a colorful rainbow across the chest.
3 Vancouver Grizzlies 1995-2001
You’re the newest franchise in the NBA. You and the city of Toronto are the first NBA teams that the country of Canada has ever gotten. Basketball is not the number one sport in Canada – hockey is. And that was clearly evident by the way that the Vancouver Grizzlies designed their jerseys. The Grizzlies put designs around the neck and the shoulder area, which make the jersey look more like a towel than a basketball jersey. It is no wonder that the franchise moved to Memphis and only lasted six years in the city of Vancouver.
2 Toronto Raptors 1995-1999
Within three years you will have the greatest dunker of all-time – Vince Carter. He puts basketball on the map in the city of Toronto after an abysmal three years in the NBA. But how does the newest team in Toronto design their jerseys? They put an unrelated Raptor, which has nothing to do with the city of Toronto, on the front of their jerseys. They also put pin stripes on the jersey, which was the in thing in the ‘90’s. Almost everyone that got drafted in the ‘90’s wore a pin stripe suit on draft day, but putting pinstripes on a jersey is a totally different matter – a fashion faux pas to be sure.
1 Milwaukee Bucks 1996-1997
The Milwaukee Bucks were a young and up and coming team during the ’97-’98 season, but their jerseys that year looked old and out of fashion. On the front of the jersey is a large buck. Bucks fans are familiar with the “Fear the Deer” slogan, but this deer hardly looks like something you should be fearful of. Secondly, the color scheme of green and purple is like the New Orleans jersey, but this jersey has a lot of shading in addition to the green and purple. Clean and simple are the two components that make for a good jersey and this jersey lacks both, making this Bucks jersey the worst in NBA history.