New Unis/Sneak Peak Premiere!

by Sandy Dover

More NBA teams are seemingly on the throwback wagon, the alternate jersey bandwagon, and the re-do-the-whole-thing bandwagon, and the Minnesota Timberwolves are now members of two, if not all three, of those wagons within the past two years. One thing’s for sure is that the TWolves hardwood classicTWolves have been trying to improve the whole franchise since Kevin Garnett left town… emphasis on “trying.” While the roster has improved and shows some promise, not much can be said of their dominant home and away uniforms, which have ended up looking like a tragedy altogether.

The neckline, the silly mini-logos everywhere on the back and behind of the uniforms, and changing up from their previous classic look were all bad moves–and I understand it. With all the marketing and sportswear dollars that are generated year to year, upgrade your uniforms are just part of the money-making scheme. Of course, franchises usually like to be diplomatic about their changes and do make the attempt to settle on a look that’s palatable to both fans and players, but any and every significant update means that there’s more money. It’s my opinion that the TWolves do just what any other team does in this regard.

For instance, the update of a classic-looking uniform from a semi-important era for the Timberwolves probably should not be drastic. The best thing about the latest primary uniforms are that the typeface for the team city and nickname is bolder, bigger and more legible. The numbers look better, the surnames on the back of the jersey look good, and the side panels are creative enough (though not necessarily ideal in appearance). The need for an extra Timberwolf collar logo and writing on the derriere are what I call clutter. That’s the still-present not-so-great news about the Minnesota game aesthetic.

If you can recall those recently-deceased uniforms, you’ll know that aside from that unique Timberwolf font (with the sharp serifs) and the tree-lined neck and armhole trim, the 1996-2008 era apparel was simple enough to be accepted, but unique enough that it wasn’t of null effect to those who viewed watched the team. Dark cobalt blue, black and white were the dominant uniform colors. It was a genuinely likeable look. But of course, when you trade away your Hall of Fame franchise player who probably would’ve done his best Billy from the “Predator” movie if giving up his life were part of the objective list, I reckon removing the years of failure (via a uniform remix) is just what the doctor ordered for the front office’s psyche.

The good news is that Minnesota has returned to the original expansion uniforms for the Hardwood Classics nights in the regular season. Though initially thought to be bland and somewhat tame, considering the essence of what a wolf is thought to be (big and bad?), now the 1989 stylings seem like air as fresh as their peppermint blue and wintergreen hues. The simplicity of the uniform is so straightforward for a then-expansion team, it’s hard to believe that it actually became the introductory look for the Minnesota franchise.

Okay, so that’s it for Minnesota. Meanwhile, Nike has made its plans to release the latest in Kobe BryaNike Zoom Kobe Vnt’s signature series with the Zoom Kobe V. In a look that almost is virtually unchanged in technology and overall design, the V is given the black/del sol-white treatment by the Swoosh.

Utilizing a 3/4-mid cut (NOT a low, like Nike and Kobe both tried to say about the Zoom Kobe IV last season), the V is more of a gradual evolution of the IV. (And by the way, plenty of superstar wing players hooped in low-cuts…all the time, actually; Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan on occasion, Magic Johnson, Steve Nash, Agent Zero…literally that “low cut” hype was much ado about nothing–it was a 3/4-mid-cut shoe, just like a Bo Jackson Nike Air Trainer, which also was designed to do anything because of its convenient low-mid height. Not a big deal.)

Apparently, the LunarLite foam wasn’t such a big hit for K.O.B.E. (word to Tyra Banks) and so, Nike swapped out the innovative material and gave the Kobe a much more responsive cushioning package with full-length Zoom Air and the standard Phylon EVA midsole, a marriage that has proven especially valuable in the Air Jordan series (although those set-ups were technically Phylon/forefoot-heel Zoom Air marriages).

The upper remains seamless, as it keeps the Flywire Vectran threads for support, so expect another lightweight winner with stability. With more carbon fiber and an external thermoplastic heel counter for a cupsole-like feel, the Zoom Kobe Vs will probably be even better than the previous installation in the series (even though the ZKV isn’t as attractive).

Look out for the new Kobes soon, though the colorway is sure to be limited in retail, if not an international release.

(Another shout goes to Andrew for the good look in providing the Speak-Easy with the necessary and much-appreciated sneaker intel.)

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.