There are a few cardinal rules the NBA fashion police should enforce. First, pin stripes don't belong in the NBA and should be left to baseball. Second, the color black doesn't need to be used on every uni. Third, a team shouldn't be married to spelling the city and team name, and should create iconic logos like the NFL and NHL. Most importantly, a team should NEVER copy a cereal box character, drive in burger joint, or beer commercial.
Perhaps no league shuffles the deck when it comes to jerseys as much as the NBA. Most teams change their look whether by color schemes or fonts every 5 years or so, and they also caught the bug of alternative, camouflage, and throwback jerseys. As advertisements start to spread on teams' jerseys, teams will probably keep changing their uniforms again and again.
A league that prides itself on style has some teams like Boston, Golden State, and San Antonio that got it right from the start and only designed a handful of disastrous threads. Other teams, like the Jazz, Hawks, and Sixers tried to capitalize on the trends of different decades, terribly missed the boat, but corrected the errors of their way. Still, some teams, like Toronto, Denver, and New Orleans have never gotten it right and should start over.
As the NBA now moves ahead with new jerseys for next year, there is a lot to look forward to and back on. However, when owners need to generate even more income, let's hope they don't just add more ads or bring back these nightmares as throwbacks.
30 Atlanta Hawks: Road Jersey, 2007- 2012
Whoever chucked the sleek red and yellow for this unoriginal, boring hack job should be fired. There are enough teams with red, white, and blue and the side stripes are just ugly. This kind of looked like a dumbed down version of the Washington Wizards.
The Hawks also have a pretty cool logo with the hawk's head, so they could create a sweet look by using that emblem instead of a mundane print. The Hawks have since gone back to red and yellow, which was the right call. There was just nothing about this uniform that stood out at all and it just made the Hawks look like a bland organization. The Hawks of this era would often disappoint after promising regular seasons, but these unis were the most disappointing of all.
29 Boston Celtics: Grey Sleeved Alternate
No, no, no, no, no... The Parquet Pride jersey with symbolic but weird parquet piping down the sides is an easy choice for Boston. Though they are one of the few teams that can get away with just spelling the team's name on the jersey, they could have thought a little more out of the box.
If they were going to go "alternate," why not use the clover on the shorts with a number inside? It's always bothersome to see sports' most historic franchises tamper with tradition and the Celtics going all out with the gray just felt wrong. You're also probably not surprised to see it was a sleeved jersey that took the spot for the Celtics here, as they've mostly stuck with their traditional green and white.
28 Brooklyn/ New Jersey Nets: Road, 1997- 2012
People often say how they look impacts their performance, and it's no wonder the Nets were so pitiful. Sure, they had some good years when they were led by the likes of Jason Kidd and Vince Carter but a part of them must have felt terrible about having to throw these jerseys on every night. These unis were as unoriginal as they come, and I can't understand why they abandoned some good looking previous jerseys like the original Nets look. It's poor marketing when a team with a cool name, Nets, can't figure out how to use a neat image of a net instead of spelling it out. The Nets would abandon this look once they moved to Brooklyn and adopted the black and white color scheme.
27 Charlotte Hornets/Bobcats: 2004 - 2009
We can't decide what was more embarrassing; the teams that the Bobcats sent to the court in their Bobcats days or the jerseys they had to wear. Talk about an organization with an identity crisis. First, the font is a poor choice because the "A" and "R" look too similar and I doubt they were going for that Southern drawl. The piping on the sides is also played out and the color scheme is collegiate. By falling into the same trap of many NBA teams, they missed out on designing a cool hornet or bobcat either taking a jump shot or dribbling. Thank goodness the Bobcats got the Hornets name back for Charlotte, as the Hornets have brought some cool looking jerseys back to Charlotte since the name change.
26 Chicago Bulls: Christmas 2013
Whenever a league mandates change, the result is usually a disaster, and this Christmas jersey is proof. The Bull logo was used much better the following year proving the Windy City teams create elite unis across the four sports. The only thing to do when looking at this is to ponder, if the logo, when turned upside down, was intended to show a robot reading a newspaper at a desk. While it's understandable that the NBA sees Christmas as an opportunity to sport some new jerseys, how much more gimmicky can you get than these? Thankfully the Bulls got some better Christmas looks the year after but they're probably regretting ever letting their team take the court in these.
25 Cleveland Cavaliers: 1994- 99 (Home)
The Cava are a great example of a team that shoots itself in the foot. The wine and gold in pro hoops makes every fan think of the Cavs, Like the Celtics or Lakers, when you have a distinct look don't mess with it. Here, maybe the men at the top thought Danny Ferry would be the next Bird and a new jersey signified a new future. Unfortunately, Cleveland's downward spiral continued for the team and this mess is to blame, at least from the branding standpoint of the team. Just think, they had to wait until the 2000s to realize this was an awful look and eventually, the Cavs would revamp their look altogether once King James came on board in the early 2000s.
24 Dallas Mavericks: Silver Alternate 2003
A friend once told me Texas leads the country in UFO sightings and maybe the inspiration behind this was some kind of space or fire suit. Whatever the inspiration, this fabric hurts the eye and has more wrinkles than a suit forced into a suitcase. I wonder if the jersey squished or flapped all game long. Just looking at this jersey, you wouldn't think that it had anything to do with UFO sightings or trying to look futuristic. These jerseys looked more like fancy garbage bags that you would have at cocktail parties, because of course, the garbage bags would have to be shiny, right? Needless to say, this experiment was a failure and the Mavs would quickly abandon it after how poorly these were received.
23 Denver Nuggets: Rainbows, 1982- 93
The Nuggets Pride jerseys, without the sleeves, mark a new beginning for the team and are seriously cool unis. They should bring Alex English out of retirement to play one night in them and burn these atrocities from the 80s. Some people may have liked this look because it was unique and something that hadn't been seen before, but looking back on this in 2017, you can't tell me these jerseys have aged well on your eyes.
The Rubix Cube striping is scary, but the mountain/skyline design is just terrible. The 80s and 90s graphics were better than this block, Atari, Space Invaders pattern. The Nuggets have yet to find a true gem of a jersey but these atrocities sure weren't the answer. Poor old English...
22 Detroit Pistons: 1996-2001 - Teal
There is so much happening here it was bound to come out badly. The black trim doesn't work. The exhaust pipes could work but not with the Knight chess piece. The chess piece also looks bad with the terrible muscle car flames. All together? Amateur hour. The Pistons were coming off their bad boy era and perhaps they felt with a new era should come a new look for the team, but these just looked all wrong and crapped all over the legacy that the Bad Boys had just left behind. Unsurprisingly, the Pistons eventually went back to their red and blue look and in the early 2000s, their found their way back into prominence and won a championship in 2004. Please Detroit, don't let these return.
21 Golden State Warriors: 1997-2010
From 1966 to 1989 the Warriors jersey rocked and the team shelved those beauties for this monstrosity from 1989- 2010. Why? The colors are awful, the design is flat and unoriginal, and there is nothing to like about it. Perhaps the Warriors were trying to adopt a look that they felt would better reflect the transition into the 21st century. A lot of NBA teams seemed to change their look around the mid to late 90s and usually it was to something worse.To think, Steph Curry actually had to play his rookie season in these duds! Thank the NBA Gods for dropping this in the trash and going old school, and just in time for the greatest era in the team's history.
20 Houston Rockets: 1996- 2002
No, Olajuwon, Barkley, and Pippen were not working at a burger joint or a Guy Fieri restaurant. And are those shooting stars? Tears? How could NBA superstars and the league allow this? I know it's hard to feel bad for pro athletes, but no one could pay me to wear this. These jerseys were introduced right after the Rockets had won back to back NBA championships in the mid 90s so you wonder why they messed with something that was working. You just knew that with these jerseys the Rockets were destined to fail, which they did. These atrocities looked like practice jerseys for a youth elementary school team and were just plain awful. The Rockets would alter their look again just in time for the arrival of Yao Ming.
19 Indiana Pacers: 1985- 1990
I know the NBA, much like Major League Baseball, thinks writing team names is their thing, but why? Oh, we're playing the Indiana Pacers? Really? But what makes it worse is the white stripe passing through the letters. How does that add any style points? It looks like they were out of whiteout when they tried to start over. Amazingly, the Pacers decided to bring these back for a few games during the 2004-05 season and you have to ask yourselves why on earth did the Pacers think fans wanted to see these again? Eventually the Pacers would adopt their far more acclaimed look of the 90s, bringing in the ever so popular "Flo Jo" uniforms. And those were the uniforms where Reggie Miller did his best work.
18 Los Angeles Clippers: 2015 - Present
This is a low point in Clipper and NBA logo history. The Clippers used to have some funk and style before this mess. No, it's not safe, it's OUT. Boring color combinations, DOUBLY BORING font, and... underlining the team name? Seriously? The Clippers had a tremendous opportunity to move forward with a fresh new look following the Donald Sterling fiasco and they settled for something incredibly dull and unimaginative. It seems the Clippers, no matter who owns them, will never be able to figure out how to do things properly. Chris Paul left town via trade this summer and we're wondering if he's secretly happy just because he doesn't have to wear these awful unis again.
17 Los Angeles Lakers: Hollywood Nights
The easiest way for any team in any sport to ruin a good thing is to add black. It's a tricky color and has to be used organically as part of the original or personality of a team. To just add a black jersey is gaudy and lazy. And to name it after a Bob Seger song is even worse. The god news is the Christmas 2014 jersey was a step in the right direction. The Lakers are one team that in no way need any type of alteration on their customary purple and gold look but for some reason, they felt like they needed a black alternate and of course, they had to join the sleeved party that's overtaken the NBA in recent years.
16 Memphis/Vancouver Grizzlies: 1995- 2000
This franchise never got it right, although their Special Edition jerseys are pretty cool. So let's destroy this design. The trim is the worst pattern in the history of sports except for the old Phoenix Coyote jerseys. Second. do we really need to read the city and team name? Last but not least, the 3-D effect of Grizzlies is so wrong. All along, the right way to do it was staring them in the face. The claw palming the ball is all they need. It's too bad that Vancouver finally got a team, only to see their team take the court in these eyesores. It definitely wasn't a good way to start building a respectable brand of basketball in Vancouver. The team would leave just six years after their arrival.
15 Miami Heat: The Floridian Jersey
I doubt this is what LeBron had in mind when he decided to take his talents to South Beach. I hate blasting throwbacks, but this one worked once and should have been left in the past. Ocean Pacific and Club Beverley Hills clothing was also considered hip a lifetime ago, and I hope that doesn't come back too. Seriously, pink and orange? We get that this was sort of a South Beach vibe but again, this looks like it was worn by a pickup league somewhere in southern Florida and definitely not what an NBA team would be wearing. You wonder what kind of people are walking around Miami who actually decided to purchase this jersey.
14 Milwaukee Bucks: Stag Alternate: 1995 - '99
Oh boy, it's true, they really tried to sell "Fear the Deer." Then, they should be sued by some defunct hunting lodge that had this design on their doormats and from which this image was stolen. I just hope no fan wears this at night and get's shot by a bow hunter. On second thought, the Bucks would certainly fill the stands if they had a halftime event where hunters could shoot it up. The Bucks eventually did away with these horrible unis and aimed for something simpler in the 2000s. Then again, that look after was probably too simple and a bit of an overcorrection for the team. The look the team sports today is definitely an improvement over what we saw in the 90s.
13 Minnesota Timberwolves: Green Trim
I feel bad for KG who had to wear this mess. This jersey could only inspire ugly Christmas sweaters in which it would be perfect. It would be nice to warm up by a fire with a jersey like this. The pine trees along the hems would glow and the font is perfect for monster, sugar cereals like Count Chocula. In fact, I think that's where they got it. The Timberwolves decided to change their look going into the 2017-18 season and I think that their new uniforms are far closer to what an NBA team's should look like. Yes, it's simple, but they're also very sharp and Wiggins plus Karl-Anthony Towns should be able to lead the Wolves to new heights in them, alongside their new teammate Jimmy Butler.
12 New Orleans Pelicans: Red
This franchise could have included some of the New Orleans Hornets jerseys, as it dates back to days in Charlotte, but undoubtedly the worst that this franchise had to offer comes from their current red alternates. Sometimes you have to leave well enough alone. Seriously, what is this? So the numbers are cool and relate to the city, but nothing else does. The name is also terrible, and you can only get away with it if there's a terrific emblem. Here's an idea. Use the pelicans from "Scarface" where Pacino says, "Here Pelican, Pelican, Pelican." The Pelicans also have mardi gras jerseys that could have taken this spot, but the jersey in a way is at least true to New Orleans. These just don't provide any inspiration.
11 New York Knicks: St. Patty's Day
First, I don't get why teams feel the need, in most sports, to celebrate a holiday with a special jersey. I'm not a curmudgeon, but if a team is going to do it, then do it right. Don't just dye the home jersey in green, but think outside the "bun." Use the Empire State Building, Lady Liberty, or the shape of the state. Even a green slice of pizza is better. So just because this jersey is splashed with a little green, it's supposed to do the Irish community in New York City proud? I don't care how proud you are to be Irish, if you're a Knicks fan (sorry), this is probably the last piece of team merchandise you should be looking to pick up when adding to your collection.
10 Oklahoma City Thunder: 2008-Present
Sure, it's hard to mess up baby blue, but letters and clashing colors can surely do it. The only colors that work are yellow and light green. I'm surprised they didn't add the word "Thunder" underneath the number and multi colored pinstripes. All they need to do is use either the Christmas 2014 or 2015 unis and the problem is solved. This franchise also includes the days of Seattle SuperSonics, so we could have picked something from their days in Seattle to add here, but we feel anything the Sonics put together was better than what the Thunder have been able to put forth with their jerseys. It might soon be time for the team to consider altering their look and try to not make the colors clash as much.
9 Orlando Magic: Latin Nights
This jersey is more offensive than the Redskins, Indians, or any other team in any other sport. No, not because the logo is offensive, but rather because it's offensive to logic. Why is it called Latin Nights? Why does it have pin stripes? Even worse, Spanish for Magic is not Magic. It's Magia! The team should be ashamed. And couldn't they at least size the uni correctly. It's just a little tight. We've seen teams around the league embrace the latin theme as the NBA aims to appeal to the Hispanic market south of the border, which is a smart move, but couldn't they make a little more effort in doing so? This just seemed really lazy and the good Latino people were probably thinking "try harder".
8 Philadelphia 76ers: 1991- 1994
It's a sin that Charles had to wear this jersey. The Sixers had some classics, but this one just stinks. The fading color band is cheesy, the stars look like popsicles, and if a person doesn't know where the "SIXERS" play, by the time they read the jersey they'd miss a handful of buckets. The only missing detail is a little elf with a wand saying "magically delicious." Philly at least stuck to their traditional colors here but seriously what were they thinking by sporting these? Charles was likely very relieved when he got the call that he was being traded to the Suns, and for sure he thought his days of wearing laughable uniforms were over. Finally, no more popsicles on the side. Then again....
7 Phoenix Suns: 1992- 2000
Poor Charles. Not only did he have to wear the Sixers' and the Rockets' most laughable jerseys, he also had to play for the Suns when they were in one of their uniform funks. And that's not even taking into account what he had to go through on the court. The star had to go up against Jordan and wear some of the ugliest unis in NBA history from ones resembling cereal boxes to burger joints. Now, he's wearing purple, black, and orange. It's a shame that ball isn't an exploding tomato and the shorts are gaudy. Compared to the Bulls, it's like a Nissan Cube compared to a Lexus. Barkley sure didn't have great luck in his NBA career when it came to the jerseys he had to wear.
6 Portland Trail Blazers: Rip City
The Trail Blazers have always gotten it right until they had to play nicely and go ahead with "pride" uniforms. It's just a forced, dumbed down gimmick. Could you see the Cowboys wearing "BBQ" on their helmet. But it seems the NBA doesn't care too much about selling out to sell, as being the first league to cave into advertisements on their jerseys demonstrates. It's hard to tell what Rip City is even supposed to mean. Back in a 1971 game, the Blazers made an inspired comeback against the Lakers and after a ridiculous long range shot went in, Bill Schonely blurted out, “RIP CITY!” Unless you're a diehard Blazers fan you have no idea what the jersey signifies. So what's the point?
5 Sacramento Kings: 2014- 2016
The Kings are another team that hasn't gotten it right since their debut uniforms. From the predictable "Kings" with a crown dotting the "i", they moved on to the horrendous "SAC" and then this. The Los Angeles Kings proved black and purple doesn't work but I guess the news moved slowly up the left coast. So why this? Easy. Flat tops are a hair style. The Kings' old gold jerseys from the mid 2000s also could have been included here but we've decided to go with jerseys the team actually wore night in and night out for several years for the Kings' entry here. Here's another one of those franchises where you just hope they'll get it right eventually. Don't hold your breath though.
4 San Antonio Spurs: Fiesta Warm Ups - Early 90s
The Spurs have always done it right. Since I am true to my word and won't crush their camouflage and the Spanish jerseys are too easy to pick on, I have to cheat a little and chose this warm up. It was called Fiesta Forever, and thank the NBA gods they didn't add the pink, white, and yellow squiggly lines to the jersey. The font is also terrible and looks like the same one used by Taco Bell. And by the way, San Antonians. It's not Los Spurs, but Los Espuelos. However when looking at these warm up getups from the early 90s, there is just no defending them. All in all, the Spurs should be proud that their biggest gaffe was just from a warmup outfit.
3 Toronto Raptors: 1995- 1998
I'd like to give a pass to our neighbors in the Great White North but I won't. Raptors? Are you kidding? A toy dinosaur? It wouldn't be so terrible if the prehistoric beast wasn't so laughable, smaller, and left alone. But the name makes the jersey like a billboard, and those pinstripes clash. The Raptors would only keep this look for a few years and eventually, they just went with a simple purple and red color scheme with a secondary logo of a T-Rex over the basketball. Nowadays, they're decked out in red, black and white with a very simple logo. Opinions differ on their original uniforms, but I don't see why anyone would be able to defend a jersey that looks like it was designed by and for six-year-olds.
2 Utah Jazz: 1996- 2004
The Jazz got rid of classics for this? Poor Malone, Stockton, and the fans. I can't believe they wore this for eight years, and it would definitely be on any all time list for any pro or minor league team. Think Bush beer. Yes, the Jazz did eventually make the NBA Finals wearing these, but I really don't know what the mountains do that make you say Jazz. Yes, it had to do with the Utah state, but really these jerseys just look like a 90s gimmick that's best left in the past. The Jazz eventually ditched these once Stockton and Malone moved on and they toyed with their look a few more times since then. They seem to have it down well today, finally.
1 Washington Wizards: Gold Alternate 2006- 2009
Another, and the final example of ruining a good thing. It's bad enough society made them change their name, but they survived with solid jerseys that were sleek and cool. But this schmatza is as bad as the Mavs silver mess. Only one team can use these colors, the New Orleans Saints. Period. The Wizards thought they'd look cool in gold but they abandoned the team colors of red, white and blue, only to stick to a lame teal shade, then introduced these golds. It would prove to be one of the most embarrassing times for the franchise, and it would get worse. Eventually teammates Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton had an argument that escalated into a gun fight. Could it have all been a debate over these jerseys?
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