by Sandy Dover

I was tipped off by the Ed. about how the New Orleans Hornets sent out press releases and photos Julian Wright & Darren Collisonmarking the occasion of their receiving new uniforms, and of course, for a guy who’s been studying NBA jerseys and on-court apparel since the age of 10, I couldn’t have been more delighted to sneak an actual peek. What I saw, though, was equal parts design innovation and creativity and less-than-delightful aesthetics. Let me explain.

I got the email and press pack in from Ryne Nelson, and saw the replica Swingman version, but I wanted to see the authentic. Like magic, I got Paul Lukas’ UniWatch blog email (which he calls going “the belt-and-suspenders route”)–by the way, Lukas is probably the best in covering the minute changes in uniforms…I’d like to think that I’m near the top in deciphering changes by the naked eye. I checked out Lukas’ latest bit and then surprisingly saw actual player photos of the new stuff, modeled by Julian Wright and Darren Collison, at Yahoo!. Like that, I was able to see everything that I needed.

Ever since the Hornets moved from North Carolina to Louisiana, I was not on-board with the move and change. I liked that they were in Charlotte, but even moreso, I was disappointed that the uniforms would have to change, and I always enjoyed those third purple uniforms they started wearing back in ’94-95. They went on and matriculated to New Orleans and then there was those mustard yellow jerseys, which I appreciated somewhat, but I just like purple. Prince, Jack Nicholson’s Joker and it being a preferred majestic hue by God are all reasons for that appreciation, so seeing that NOLA was going to rep “NOLA” in purple was seemingly nice, but then I saw some other stuff going on that I just didn’t care for.

I liked the gold, but was disappointed by the lack of white. I didn’t see any pinstripes, and I believe that’s what makes a Hornet, but that was not a big hang-up to me. It was when I saw the rear of the jersey and saw the old New Orleans Jazz green that gave me feelings that are best described as a “lack of appreciation” for its inclusion. I get it–it’s a holiday uniform with Mardi Gras in mind. The culture of the city and the franchise’s connection to the Jazz was noted and the look is to be representative of a party. All understandable and understood. With that said, I was not impressed on the whole. The side panels were busy, the green chafed against me, and the very-downplayed presence of white and teal was just disappointing. It’s not a bad uniform, but it wasn’t what I’d do in designing their uniform, considering the colors specifically.

On the contrary, I did take further looks at the new apparel and I did like the details. I did see the intricate designs in the side paneling, with what appears to be lots of fleur-de-les, so that was cool. I still appreciate that unique numbering that the Hornets have been using since updating the new uniforms and logo, and as Lukas pointed out, the side panel trim is, in fact, mini-beads, a cool reference to Mardi Gras again.

With all that said, INOLA Swingman would’ve designed the third uniforms differently. I would have included aqua pinstripes on the jersey, but not on the shorts, just like the old Charlotte Hornets uniforms. I also would have used gold on the front panel of the jersey and shorts and kept green on the rear panel of both top and bottom as well; the side panel would be purple with the laser designs highlighted in white, while the bead trim of the sides stay the same. The collar and armholes would be trimmed in teal and purple, the “NOLA” and numbers would be filled in with green and highlighted by gold and purple, and a stylized font for the last names would be nice for all incarnations of the Hornets’ uniforms, too.

I could be overthinking it all, but much of what transpires from the bowels of various NBA teams’ board rooms are presentations of “special” duds that don’t translate especially well.

In the case of the Hornets, their Mardi Gras uniforms aren’t lost in translation, but I just wouldn’t go with them as a totally finished product…we’ll all just have to find out how they appear when they’re use for game action and worn in living color in February 2010. By then, hopefully Chris Paul will not have gone completely crazy with the madness currently setting up shop in the hive’s nest.

Dovi out.

Sandy Dover is a novelist/writer, artist, fitness enthusiast, as well as an unrepentant Prince fan (for real). You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline, as well as at Associated Content and Twitter.