Hooray for New 2010 Unis? Part 3
The art and mastery of the NBA nu’retro jersey.
The business of the NBA never ends… do you know how you can tell? When teams with perfectly fine game uniforms start coming up with retro-modern combinations of old uniforms, call them “alternates” and use them for those seeming ubiquitous theme nights that take place at so many arenas.
The latest incarnation of what I (and the Jordan Brand has dubbed a few models of its shoes) call “nu’retros” (or “new retros”) are the Cleveland Cavaliers’ latest addition to their garb closet. Many of you all probably remember those excellent throwback Cavs uniforms in white with blue and orange trim from 2006-2008, which were actually commemorating what the team called “Celebrating An Era” back in the ’86-87 season. Well, Cleveland decided to bring back the feel of that so-called era (mind you, it was a time when Cavaliers ownership and management would trade away top first-round draft choices, draft inferior players, and generally succumb to the talents of Michael Jordan—what an era [I see you, Brendan]) with an added touch of new- and old-found nostalgia.
The new uniforms replace the dominant white, blue and orange theme and instead use the original (and current) colors of the Cavs’ past; in a closed-hole adidas ClimaCool mesh, wine/burgundy is the main hue, while the arched “CAVS” and round numerals return trimmed in yellow gold and white. The collar, armholes, elastic waist and shorts use a basic tri-color pattern of wine, white, and gold (in that order) to finish the look—and that’s it.
While unnecessary, the brilliance of the uniform is that it does exactly what many primary NBA uniforms fail to accomplish—simply, it incorporates the new and blends the old in a team look that aesthetically is pleasing and is palatable for design. The Cavs’ spin on their own nu’retro is an excellent model for teams. It’s what the L.A. Lakers did when Nike went forward for their primary uniform updates in the ’99-00 season. It’s what the Miami Heat went for in the same season, in retaining their franchise look with new fabrics and formatting. Ditto for the Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks. You even see it in the new Philadelphia 76ers uniforms, as they decided to use modern styling and fabric technology to create primary nu’retros for their own team.
It would be wonderful if other franchises would look at the Cavs’ latest creation and give themselves a boot for some good updates. One great example would be the San Antonio summoning their old Hardwood Nights uniforms for five years ago and readopt them as an integral look for away games—remember those? The shiny silver unis (with the dazzle mesh, no less) with the black and white trim colors for the wordmarks, numbers and side panels? Yeah, those were excellent. In fact, another just resurrection would be the Lakers’ bringing back the dark royal and baby blue uniforms from the ’03-04 season as well, the ones that the Lakers wore along the ride to their eventual foray in the Finals (Gary Payton and Kobe Bryant wore some mean pairs of Air Jordans that matched those threads, too—the XII and the III, respectively).
As has been mentioned before, the New York Knicks essentially wear a modern update of their same old classic uniforms, which I think to be nearly worthless with their inclusion of black as a prominent trim color—instead, New York should look at Chicago and the Boston Celtics’ use of subtle mini-logos that actually mean something significant (i.e. a bull and four-leaf clover) and newer mesh options (dazzle and closed-hole) as a way to inspire some new “flavor,” “jazz” or whatever euphemism of personal choice that invokes an updated, visually pleasing aesthetic. The Portland Trail Blazers are another team that chose to renew an old look several years ago, but executed tastefully by adding trace amounts of silver and slight changes in the wordmarks to communicate a fresher appearance without subtracting the classic look.
A few more teams should do as the Cavs have done and add a spectacular nu’retro alternate—check it:
The Golden State Warriors, with a navy blue body with royal blue, gold and white trim from the Chris Webber years.
The Orlando Magic, using a black version of the 2003 update (side panels, neck and armholes, collarbone star and all) with silver pinstripes, and the original 1989 “Orlando” script and numerals.
Phoenicians would probably be even more happy if the home team Suns would replenish their appearance, fall back on the current orange “PHX” third jerseys (“yuck.”) and introduce either an orange version of the 1992 Phoenix Suns uniforms or a black form of the 80s edition of the Suns jerseys (using purple, orange and white as trim, as well).
And for the lovable rogue himself, Gilbert Arenas, the Washington Wizards would make everyone happy by making another version of the black and gold third uni and intro’ing a red, white and blue makeup edition of that (or just use the Hardwood Classic Bullets attire from Michael Jordan’s final season in D.C.—the ones with the actual horizontal stripes).
If the Cavs are lucky, though, they’ll be celebrating their XL anniversary (40th in Roman numerals) with a championship and not rehashing old failures of the Brad Daugherty, Mark Price and Ron Harper variety.
Thanks to Paul at UniWatch for keeping an excellent eye out for the ongoing changes of NBA uniforms.