Change of Garb
The complete guide to all 30 NBA uniforms.
by Sandy Dover / @San_Dova
Between the massive player movement and a wealth of teams seemingly in position to jockey for a place in Championship contention, movement in the League has seemingly been at an all-time high; no less, the garb that players have been playing in this season has undergone some great changes, with the large, helpful hands of adidas’ basketball division.
In July and August 2010, I compiled a full, comprehensive listing of all 30 NBA teams’ uniform changes, with respect to their specific makeup and notes of the subtleties of those changes. While I was set to make what I had into a plural-person project, unfortunately, because of a breakdown in communication, I was unable to debut the column. In September and October of 2010, when the notable work of colleagues Paul Lukas and Kyle Stack was released, both of whom were working similar beats on the uniforms at the same time as me unknowingly, I postponed my project; but now, with time having elapsed, and my main focus being on the specific renderings of the uniforms, I give you a full rundown of every team’s changes as I noted with updated changes as they’ve taken place from ’10-11 to the current season. See if you can spot the changes yourself, listed below and seen in the gallery above.
– Changes: The awkward panel-insert collar has been swapped out for a more traditional, highly-contoured V-neck collar (dubbed by the NBA as its “bracketed neck”).
Commentary: Just the new V-neck alone vastly improved the new look of the jersey. The old neckline with the red collar insert was overly complicated and “tech-y”. The new collar flows much better.
- The traditional thin jersey hole trim has been widened around the neck and armholes, and the “CELTICS’ wordmark has been enlargened significantly and raised higher across the chest, unlike the past 15 years or so.
– The seam lines down the sides of the jersey are now also curved as a part of adidas’ Formotion initiative on its apparel for improved comfort and less rubbing on the body (this follows on several, but not all, NBA teams).
The thin trim on the arms and neck from past years was actually a better look. This change is small, but unnecessarily adds incremental bulk around the arms and collar. Also, I like the smaller CELTICS wordmark across the body of the former jerseys, but nothing beats letting teams know who you are like making it your team nickname larger.
– The Bobcats now use a notched neckline collar called an “abbreviated V-neck”.
The former collar was somewhat confused, but interesting and cool; the new neckline is OK, but it’s not particularly spectacular. The overall uniform is great, though.
> The Bobcats also have an alternate uniform in play, a retro set that calls back to the Carolina Cougars of the ABA.
- The dazzle mesh of the past several years is longer—the new uniforms utilize a non-shiny, hybrid closed hole-flat back mesh with open pin holes along the collarbone, abdomen and targeted areas of the shorts (a la adidas’ ClimaCool technology—Note: all 30 teams are utilizing this particular sort of patented mesh in the main body of the uniforms).
I actually liked the dazzle mesh on the Bulls’ uniforms. It was a subtle way to distinguish between the old Jordan era-Bulls and the post-2000 Bulls, without having to drastically transform the uniform. The dazzle gave Chicago some pizzazz and made the new guys more “zippy”. The reversal to the regular matte mesh is a slight personal disappointment, also brings a more classic look to the Bulls without being as flashy.
- Total overhaul of the uniforms; the primary colors are now an updated and robust combination of wine red and “old gold”/mustard yellow
– Navy blue is no longer an emphasized part of the color palette
– New script on the jersey
– No side panel inserts
– Repeated two-tone stripe trim on the jersey and shorts; the Cavaliers now use a crew neck collar instead of the former V-neck trim
I formerly detested the uniforms, but have since developed some sense of appreciation for them. I mainly take issue with the mustard yellow being so disgustingly dated and that their is a distinct lack of white on the away uniform.
- What was originally the green-then “Maverick” blue, Puff Daddy-designed alternates have now been modified again to a navy blue uniform.
– Also, the numbers are no longer on top of the team script like the former alternate and are now centered beneath the stylized “MAVS” script.
Honestly, this is a good change. Still, though, I prefer the original Puff Daddy design with the original green alternate, trimmed in navy blue, Maverick blue and white, and though I do like the old navy set, I have no great qualms with this change.
- The Nuggets have eliminated dazzle mesh from the bulk of the uniforms and now utilize the new ClimaCool matte mesh.
– The navy trim of the numerals, front script and side paneling is slightly bolder (the royal blue that was used as a trim color in 2003 was eliminated from the logo and uniforms after the ’08-09 season).
– The collar trim is now two-toned, instead of being a single color in dazzle trim.
Before, I used to dislike the dazzle mesh and powder blue and white combined in the Nuggets’ unis, but removing the dazzle has given new life to Denver’s sets and has helped the navy blue in its presence in all of the uniforms.
- The side panels no longer utilize dazzle mesh and are now the standard ClimaCool mesh.
– The rear name font has been changed slightly.
This is a minor disappointment as well. The dazzle side paneling gave the classic uniform some subtle flash and pop, without compromising the classic look of old.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
- The Warriors have totally removed navy blue and orange from the team uniforms and logo, opting to now use a revamped version of the old San Francisco Warriors logo featuring the Golden Gate bridge within a yellow circle (which is used in totality on the front of the jerseys).
– Royal blue and goldenrod are now the team’s primary colors (again).
– The dazzle mesh has been replaced, in favor of the standard ClimaCool mesh.
– Basic jersey and shorts match with three-stripe side piping and a stylized “dead end” V-neck collar (officially dubbed as the “mitred wishbone” collar).
Golden State outdid themselves in re-branding the team by re-identifying themselves with their own heritage. Reestablishing their look with classic hues and a unique style has brought them a long way from the superhero-looking era of the past 15 years.
– Total removal of the dazzle mesh body and trim, in exchange for the standard mesh.
I don’t really mind the dazzle mesh changing over from the body of the uniform, but substituting the dazzle mesh for the ClimaCool mesh trim on the “rocket warps” takes away from the zip of the Rockets’ look. I’d much rather have some or all dazzle mesh on the unis rather than none on Houston’s uniforms.
– The dazzle trim on the collar and dazzle silver trim on the uniform body is now in a matte finish.
Again with the dazzle mesh, on the Pacers’ uniforms, the pop it added enhanced the uniform. Taking it away makes the silver trim less obvious and somewhat unnecessary because it’s hard to distinguish it as a trim hue.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
- Los Angeles switched the neckline collar from a more traditional V-neck to an abbreviated V-neck collar; the numerals are rounded now (they were formerly in block style) and also vary in color opposite of the script, depending on the home and away jersey.
– The red away jersey features “Los Angeles” in cursive rather than the former cursive “Clippers” script.
– The side paneling now features a custom stripe and vamp on both the jersey and shorts.
I think in some ways that the new Clippers look is better and in other ways that it’s a step to the side, but not necessarily backward. I like the overall approach to the new uniforms, but some things are incongruous to each other like using a block letter font for the rear names when the numbers and team name are rounded; I’m not a huge fan of the edged and curved side panels of the uniform and I don’t necessarily care much of the mini-”LAC” logo below the V-neck collar, but the uniform achieved progress in creating a more up-to-date style.
> Powder blue retro uniforms with block-style lettering are in the cards for the Clippers’ alternate uniforms.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
– The rear names are smaller and no longer have a signature font.
I don’t approve of the Lakers having to discard their own script font for the player names; the new font hasn’t improved on the prior look.
– The numbers no longer have a stripe streaked bisecting each number’s form, and the alternate uniforms have eschewed the dazzle mesh for the standard matte mesh.
The primary uniforms are still strong and use dazzle mesh trim; I like the alternate uniforms less now that they use the new ClimaCool matte mesh, but it’s only a minor downgrade.
> A retro alternate set, styled in green and gold, is active for 2012, in honor of the Memphis Tams ABA basketball club.
– The Heat no longer use dazzle mesh and now use ClimaCool mesh, and the NBA logo is now moved to the lower left collarbone (was previously on the right and the only team with that logo setting).
I don’t know why the Heat would move the logo over to the left collar. It throws off the balance of the jersey, since the Heat “T” and numerals overload the left side of the player’s body. Plus, having the logo on the right collar made the uniform unique from all of the other uniforms in the League. I also don’t like how the dazzle mesh was removed, but I can understand why it was. Especially with the red uniform, the players’ sweat was always a sort of an aesthetic bother, as it made the jerseys and shorts visibly wet.
> Miami is using a straight black-and-white alternate set with no yellow-gold or red as trim colors, with white as an outline color.
- The Bucks no longer use dazzle mesh for the body and now use ClimaCool mesh.
– They also have removed the angular quasi-V-neck collar for the mitred wishbone V-neck collar.
The dazzle mesh was great on these uniforms and going to the standard matte mesh is a minor mistake, but there’s much worse than that. The previous custom V-neck collar that the Bucks got in their uniform redesign three years ago has now turned into a replica V-neck that the Pacers and Magic have used. There wasn’t any other reason to change, other than to make the uniform look more standard with a few other teams.
- The Timberwolves have eliminated the faux V-neck tree collar and now use the bracketed V-neck collar.
– Green has been removed from the team uniforms as well, in favor of matte silver.
In a minor way, the Timberwolves have improved the uniform, just but changing the horrible neckline. The green that formerly was featured on the old uniforms was off-putting and made the uniform even more cartoonish than it can already appear to be (at least when you concentrate on the side panel art).
NEW JERSEY NETS
- The Nets no longer use a crew neck collar, and are currently wearing jerseys with a traditional classic V-neck trim.
– The block lettering of the rear names is no longer trim with a secondary color.
The scoopneck collar is a classic staple of the Nets’ look. Giving the jersey a V-neck does nothing for the look; it was a change that wasn’t necessary, but not fundamentally alternative, so that’s the lone good in the change. Also, the jerseys now feature a standard, untrimmed block font with the names, which also is a downgrade and unnecessary change in my opinion; the former script font gave the jerseys more overall polish.
> The Nets will be bringing back the uniforms that Julius Erving first made famous in the 1970s and used through 1990 as alternate uniforms.
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
– The Hornets have ceased from utilizing jerseys with the dazzle polyester V-neck, in favor of the highly-contoured, bracketed V-neck collar.
Another minute, but unnecessary switcheroo. The dazzle neckline of old gave some nice flash to the jerseys in a very subtle dose.
NEW YORK KNICKS
– New York rid themselves of the crossover V-neck collar and now feature a standard classic V-neck.
They really just needto get rid of the black. It’s terrible on the blue uniform and alternate green uniforms, and is generally unnecessary; on the bright side, the more traditional V-neck is an upgrade (though going back to the original crew neck collars would be even better).
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
– The elimination of the semi-circular collar insert on the jersey’s V-neck collar.
I really didn’t like the Thunder’s uniforms when they first got made, but I’ve warmed up to them since then. The reality of the situation is that I love the plethora of the colors that the Thunder have (sky blue, navy blue, yellow, orange, black, and white), but I believed that the uniforms were too safe and basic; I now have grown fond of the unis, but they still could use some improvement (whenever that will come, who knows?). Removing that extra collar insert helps, because adding an extra piece of fabric to a V-neck is never really that great.
– The Magic have noticeable Formotion stitching at the sides of the jersey and a semi-raglan stitch at the jerseys’ collar.
I’m not a huge fan of the Magic’s unis, but I don’t loathe them. The side paneling lacks good flow and is a disaster to me. I’m not in love with the word script on the front of the jersey, either, but these could be much worse.
- The Sixers now use the shapely, bracketed V-neck collar (I.e. Hawks, Hornets, Timberwolves), eliminating the team-specific dazzle mesh collar of ’09-10.
– The “SIXERS” script is slightly trimmer than the ’09-10 block lettering.
I like the curvy V-neck collar, but the only issue I have with the new bracketed collar is that the continuity of the color trim breaks on the rear collar trim; that is another unnecessary change.
> The alternate is the exact same of the red primary away uniform, only blue.
– The Suns now use the same dead end, mitred wishbone collar as the Bucks, Magic and Pacers and have removed the traditional (overlapping) V-neck collar of the past decade.
Honestly, the new V-neck change is a middling improvement, because the entire uniform has been terrible since 2000. The Suns would be better off going back to the old 1992 redesigns or doing something totally different altogether. The odd paneling and gray is a decade-long failure.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
– The Blazers no longer will use silver dazzle mesh trim on the jerseys and shorts, opting for the ClimaCool mesh on for the now-silver gray trim.
This is another example (among the many) of dazzle mesh’s great uses in trim being removed in favor of a more drab fabric. Silver is best when it can refract light on the uniform in small portions, like it was doing from 2003-2010.
– The Kings reverted a flat mesh uniform body with a bracketed V-neck collar.
I really enjoyed the shiny collar of the ’09-10 season.
> The Kings will be employing the use of black alternates, in the exact stylings of the metallic gold sets from the Ron Artest/Mike Bibby days, which themselves were a re-styling of the Kings uniforms from the early ’90s, with some call-back to the Cincinnati Royals of the 1960s.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
– San Antonio has removed the classic crew neck collar and have gone to a classic V-neck collar
– The waistband no longer mirrors the jersey trim and is a solid, except for on the sides of the shorts.
Just the one change to the jersey, in the neckline, has changed the flow of the uniform. A switch to a V-neck from a scoopneck collar trim is relative blasphemy to the history of the Spurs’ look—I originally thought it to be a terrible, though minute, change. I now have embraced the sharpness of the V-neck, as every other word and numeral on the uniform also uses sharp edges.
– Toronto has removed the Raptor claw from the rear neck of the jersey and have instead chosen to utilize the Canadian flag leaf in its place above the nameplate.
The Raptors’ uniforms are still great. Nothing wrong with the uniforms anywhere.
> Toronto will be wearing alternate uniforms trimmed in black with green, leafy camouflage.
- The Jazz have now fully re-incorporated the former logo and style of the original New Orleans/Utah Jazz days.
– The jersey features the old music note “JAZZ” logo on the jersey.
– Navy blue is still a primary color, but light blue and purple are no longer employed and have been replaced by green and gold as the other complimentary colors of the Jazz.
– Block numerals are now used instead of the stylized numbers of the past five seasons.
– Contrasting striped side panels are now on the jersey and shorts, and the neckline is now a traditional V-neck (a change from the varied-width tapered V-neck).
I think that the Jazz do have some identity issues using what are essentially two primary logos, but the execution of the new uniform look is top-notch and classic.
– Total change, expressed here.
Sandy Dover is a published author, fitness & media professional, and a SLAM web columnist & print contributor whose work has been featured and published by US News, Yahoo!, Robert Atwan’s “America Now” and ESPN. You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline and via his website at About.Me/SandyDover.