If you’ve clicked on this list, then it means you have major courage and you’re alright with seeing your eyes bleed. We commend you for your bravery and we’d offer you something to help your eyes, but we’ve already cleared every store possible out of such items.
Fine, not all of these jerseys are that ugly and unappealing – some are just too bland – but when you’re talking awful sports uniforms, those disclaimers need to be said. All it takes is one disgusting jersey set to make one vomit through their ear, bleed from their eye, want to jump into oncoming traffic on Interstate 95…
…wait, I-95 is usually pretty backed up. Florida’s Turnpike, then.
If that sounds familiar, it means you most likely checked out my bad NFL jerseys column – and if you haven’t, do so. Today, we’ll be doing something similar with the NBA. Recent may not be in the title, but the basic ground rules here are simple.
– No sleeved jerseys. Those are too easy and the majority of them are all disgraceful
– No one-time jerseys. However, jerseys worn by a team during an overseas tour or trip are eligible.
– No Christmas jerseys unless they were annually worn on that day prior to sleeved jerseys only.
– Every jersey on this list has been used since the 1999-00 season. Throwback uniforms that receive(d) common use are eligible.
With that said, let’s get to work.
30. Atlanta Hawks: White and Green Throwback
One of the many jerseys teams were using as of last season (again, this new Adidas change will present some interesting scenarios regarding throwbacks), my only real issue with this jersey is the lack of Atlanta feeling to it. With any of the major sports teams in the ATL, especially the Hawks, Braves, and Falcons, you see the three colors the Dirty South loves so much: red, white, and blue. True, the Falcons don’t really feature blue, but they make up for it with more than enough red.
Variety is good, and I do applaud the Atlanta Hawks for wanting to add another throwback to the mix, but these aren’t quite my style. It’s like I said earlier: disgraceful doesn’t exactly mean the jerseys are abominations, but I would like to see the Hawks pursue another throwback style.
29. Boston Celtics: Europe Tour
Overseas exhibitions are no stranger to the NBA, even in the ‘old days’ of 2007 when four teams – the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Memphis Grizzlies, and Minnesota Timberwolves – traveled overseas for the Europe Live Tour. Though the Celtics were the only team not to face a FIBA team, they did rock some interesting jerseys where the ‘Celtics’ wording had Italy’s colors.
In a way, I do like the decision to add some international flavoring to a traditional jersey, but I don’t think it works here. I’ve made this argument when Major League Baseball celebrates holidays – and you’ll see this pop up later – but if the colors go against what your team is and has been, don’t do it. For Mother’s Day, the pink looks good on the Houston Astros, but atrocious on the New York Yankees. Here, it didn’t work.
28. Brooklyn/New Jersey Nets: Red New Jersey Look
Bias alert! In the grand scheme of things, these are not the worst jerseys the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets have ever worn, and they may not even be the worst since the 1999-00 season. When these were a secondary road uniform to contrast the primary blue, it worked! New Jersey something that people in the United States love from sports teams: use red, white, and blue efficiently.
However, the decision after the 2008-09 season to get rid of the blues – likely helped by the draft day trade of Vince Carter, the last member of New Jersey’s big three with Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson – was disappointing. These are fine jerseys to pull out maybe once every three or four road games, but 41 nights a year? With how bright they are? And you wonder why they went 10-72 that first season…
I think when the Nets realized they gave this up, they had to get rid of the blue…
27. Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets: Red Bobcats Roads
Because they haven’t been around for long, the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets haven’t really had as much of an opportunity to mess up the way other teams have. However, their bright road jerseys from the franchise’s early days easily take this spot – and that’s not because all I think of when I see these is Adam Morrison’s flow.
Going with a bright jersey works at times, and I will say the Bobcats took a nice risk here, but this was the best they came up with? Why not try to find a nice hybrid between orange and blue, not unlike the New York Mets’ current road alternate, as a way of paying back to the past (Charlotte Hornets) and the new-look team the Queen City has to offer? Well, at least the Bobcats/Hornets nailed it with future uniforms…
26. Chicago Bulls: St. Patrick’s Day
Well, I did say holidays where teams routinely used the same jerseys – or at the very least, extremely similar jerseys with minor alterations year after year – were eligible. So congratulations, Chicago Bulls, this is your option. There’s very few teams that I think successfully pull off the St. Patrick’s Day jerseys (yes, the New York Knicks were one of them), but the Chicago Bulls, known for black and red? Nope.
That may be a lame take, but come on. When you think of the Chicago Bulls, you know you’re thinking of Michael Jordan’s game-winners in the red jerseys, or Scottie Pippen showing he was more than just a Robin to Jordan’s Batman in the home whites. You don’t mess with tradition, not even for holidays, so this is an automatic no in my book.
25. Cleveland Cavaliers: The Pre-LeBron Era
Maybe I’m being too hard on the Cavaliers because of the new uniforms they recently unveiled, but can we agree that the new-look is a great fit? There’s not many jersey options the Cavaliers have used on a regular basis that I don’t like – and in all honesty, I didn’t even mind the sleeved ones…well, after LeBron James showed what they’d look like without sleeves – but these are way too bland and boring.
Say what you want about the Cavaliers’ history prior to landing LeBron in the 2003 NBA Draft, but that history – win or lose – was always filled with wine jerseys and attempts at using orange in different ways. What do we get from these jerseys? It feels like a blatant attempt at ripping off the Detroit Pistons, who we’ll get to in a few minutes.
24. Dallas Mavericks: Old-School Roads
Wait, a rookie Dirk Nowitzki! You’re cheating! Well, the Mavericks used this jersey during Nowitzki’s first NBA season and would continue to do so until 2001, so it’s not cheating.
When Mark Cuban took over the Dallas Mavericks, you have to give the guy some credit for wanting to introduce some tradition and simplicity to a team that was in desperate need of both. I’m really not quite sure why these jerseys are so basic and why the Dallas font looks so weird, but these take the crown.
And no, I don’t mind the alternate jerseys Cuban and the Mavericks have used since their rebrand and dismissal of these jerseys. Given how bad some of the other more recent jerseys on this list are, be glad the sometimes controversial Maverick alternates are what they are.
23. Denver Nuggets: Old-School Homes
For some reason, there’s a misconception that the Denver Nuggets rainbow uniforms were the ones PRIOR to the ones worn in the Carmelo Anthony era. It’s an easy misconception to make, but how could you forget about these Nuggets jerseys? While the road uniforms in this set actually look really nice and I wouldn’t mind seeing those brought back in some shape, I can’t say these are really that great.
Remember, the late 1990s and early 2000s were a time of experimenting when it came to NBA jerseys, but this is the best the Nuggets could come up with? Sure, the mountains are a nice touch, but that’d be like the New York Knicks focusing their entire brand on the Empire State Building. At least the Nuggets realized some brighter colors might help…
22. Detroit Pistons: Turn of the Century Roads
At least with some NBA jerseys that try to do too much, not unlike the Vancouver Grizzlies (more on them later) I can make the argument that it’s a younger franchise trying to stand out. With that said, what in Kwame Brown’s name were the Pistons thinking when they rolled these jerseys out to replace the iconic red and blue Bad Boy looks.
Again, I point back to tradition here, and while that may seem like a weak excuse, I don’t see any way to defend this jersey. The colors are all wrong, the logo is too out there, and this doesn’t FEEL like the Detroit Pistons. For teams with history and legacy, that’s a problem, so I was really glad I grew up with the mid 2000s look.
21. Golden State Warriors: Orange Sun
While I’m not the biggest fan of the current Golden State Warriors uniforms and much prefer the mid 2000s set, they’re not disgraceful enough and they do have a certain charm to them; even I, someone who was threatened on social media for saying Stephen Curry might have been a touch overpaid, won’t deny that. Unfortunately, these jerseys, then, take the Warriors’ spot.
Simply put, there are some jerseys on this list that look great in NBA 2K or NBA Live, but are a bit of an eyesore in real life. I like the Warriors’ idea of a completely orange uniform, but this may have been a bit overboard. Part of my issue, really, comes with the black side; either go all-orange or go home. True, that was how things were a decade ago, but #goallorangeorgohome.
20. Houston Rockets: Turn of the Century
That I did not remember the Houston Rockets ever using these uniforms may be a good thing. Again, when your team has tradition and history with a certain color and set (the Pistons had blue and red, the Rockets had white, orange, and red), you don’t need to trade that for something wacky and nonsensical. That’s what these Houston Rockets jerseys are: wacky and nonsensical.
The jerseys are supposed to look like a rocket taking off with the smoke coming down? Sure. Houston’s made some curious uniform choices over the years, especially Clutch City, but I don’t know what the point is with these. Where does the blue come in? I know the majority of Texas teams – the Cowboys, Rangers, Mavericks, etc – have some tie to blue, but when did the Rockets have one?
19. Indiana Pacers: Pinstripe (no) Pride
Again, the NBA 2K and NBA Live argument makes an appearance because in-game, there’s a solid case for those jerseys to look good. I don’t even mind the road ones, honestly, and I do like the fonting mixed with the color; the pinstripes, though, make no sense and need to get away from that jersey as quickly as possible. What do the Indiana Pacers have to do with pinstripes? Maybe I’m alone, but I think pinstripes should be reserved mainly for baseball jerseys; they don’t normally work well with basketball.
And that’s the thing: if Indiana ditched the pinstripes here and rolled out one night with solely the blue and yellow, those would be some fantastic jerseys. Why did they need to complicate things with pinstripes?? What were you thinking?
18. Los Angeles Clippers: Pre-Lob City
Unlike most people, I don’t mind the newer Los Angeles Clippers uniforms, even if I think the logo is a bit odd. We’ve had so many awful jersey choices over the years that Steve Ballmer and friends trying to rebrand their old set is fine, so he gets a pass here. If he were Donald Sterling, though…
And, the Clippers actually haven’t had many bad jerseys since the turn of the century, so these get picked simply because they’re so bland. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, more and more teams were trying new things – and as this list shows, they weren’t quite working – but at least they wanted to experiment and try going back to the past. What do these jerseys do for me? If you needed any more reasoning other than Donald Sterling for why the Clippers were so bad during this time, here you go.
17. Los Angeles Lakers: The NBA Forcing Them To Use Sleeved Jerseys
What? You said you weren’t going to use sleeved jerseys! You lie!
Well, fine, maybe I did lie, but the NBA forcing the Lakers to adopt the sleeved jerseys after so many years of using the same basic uniform set is ridiculous. The regular black alternates I could handle and I was never against the white home jersey, but are you kidding me with these? I would have thought the NBA would know better than to mess with tradition and history.
And some will say, “well, the New York Yankees are going to be putting Under Armour on their jerseys in a couple years, so what’s the problem? With the Under Armour logo, like I said in the intro, that’s so small that it doesn’t affect the jersey or the history. This…this does. I’m not a fan, NBA.
16. Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies: Intro sets
I need to throw up, so I’ll let Paul Lukas of Uni-Watch take it from here.
“If you’re an expansion team looking to make a splashy debut, this is one way to do it. Oh man, where to start? It’s nice that they tried to incorporate First Nations iconography on the collar trim, armhole trim and shorts, but it looked so clunky. (Bonus points for including the symbols on the right shorts leg but not the left.) The cartoonish chest lettering didn’t exactly help, the teal-based color scheme was trendy for its time but looks hopelessly dated today, and the big grizzly on the shorts was, uh, an inspired touch. There’s a fine line between uniform and costume, and this design was on the wrong side of it.”
15. Miami Heat: Whiteout
Do I need to mention the NBA 2K argument here? In theory, the whiteout idea is a great one (those words are probably going to get taken out of context somehow) and I was excited to see what the Miami Heat could come up with…but this was a little underwhelming. Maybe it’s because we had such high hopes for the Heat at the time because it was during the Big Three era, but these jerseys almost seem rushed.
What I’d really have liked to see if it was possible was the usage of an alternate logo – or even, a completely new one – somewhere that makes this jersey more than just a simple whiteout. But, the Heat do get points for organizing white outs (CONTEXT) when wearing these jerseys, so things weren’t all bad.
14. Milwaukee Bucks: Why is there purple?
Most people I talk to, for some reason, prefer these over the jersey set that replaced them in 2006, but I can’t see why. All I can think of is asking why there’s purple? I’ve come up with some reasons, so bear with me.
– The purple is supposed to represent the color of the pills the designers were on.
– Purple combines red and blue, so maybe this would combine enough wins and losses for the Bucks to succeed?
– Purple makes true men!
Ironically, for as many jerseys I’ve said have bad side colors, the green and white here is a nice contrast; it’s more of an emerald hue, which is an interesting choice. But these jerseys…well, I’m glad we’re not seeing the Greek Freak dunk in those.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: The Post-KG Experiment
Here, I just feel like railing on the Timberwolves, so this will be fun. When a team trades or loses an icon, they’ll often try to attempt some sort of rebrand, not unlike what the Cavaliers did in 2010 after LeBron James bolted for Miami. After trading Kevin Garnett in 2007, the Timberwolves tried to do this the next season…by changing colors on the shorts?
I’d have been all for something completely new or even a throwback jersey – maybe even one mimicking the Minneapolis Lakers? – but these? I wouldn’t be shocked if David Kahn told the uniform designers their jobs depended on a rebrand, but “one so insignificant that people will be able to look past it when Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio make the greatest backcourt ever!”
12. New York Knicks: The Isiah Days
Can I just use the Isiah Thomas days as my example? Those days were certainly disgraceful, between all of the losing, poor decision making, and enough mistakes that we nearly filled an entire 15 post article with them! If you’re a Knicks fan who called the Phil Jackson era the worst you’ve seen, you most likely hopped on the bandwagon during the Carmelo Anthony day, eh?
I don’t know, maybe its my lasting cynicism of being a New York Knicks fan, but there’s something about these jerseys that bothers me all of these years later. New York has – and hopefully, always – will be a city that sticks to tradition, especially with their sports teams, but this seems a bit bland, don’t you think? Well, at least there were more highlights in these jerseys than there were in the Phil Jackson era.
11. New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans: The entire current set
For as strange as the name sounded, I was all in favor of the New Orleans Hornets becoming the New Orleans Pelicans after the 2012-13 season. That “loss of icon rebrand” applies here, as the Hornets wanted to move on from the Chris Paul trade and create a new era, one with Anthony Davis; that, and moving from the Hornets – the team’s name in Charlotte – to something befitting New Orleans made sense.
But with these jerseys, I don’t know what to say as we approach their fifth season in them. Aside from the red jersey, these uniform sets are either too bland or too wacky; and while wacky IS New Orleans, especially during Mardi Gras, these jerseys have been a major disappointment. With DeMarcus Cousins now joining Davis, perhaps the Pelicans will do another rebrand soon…and I’m probably not alone in thinking it’s much needed.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder/Seattle SuperSonics: Gold Sonics
Whether or not the Seattle SuperSonics should have moved and become the Oklahoma City Thunder is a fair debate, especially with Kevin Durant playing his rookie year in Seattle and the Sonics using their final first-round pick (technically) on Russell Westbrook, but I think we can all agree these gold jerseys are not missed. Maybe I’m cynical because of how the Sonics leaving Seattle went, but these jerseys are way, way too ugly to look at nearly a decade after their final usage.
The irony of this, though, is that these are the Sonics jerseys I normally think of when I hear about Kevin Durant’s rookie year and Robert Swift’s drug addiction. I think about the standard home and away jerseys at the time too, but these remain in my head. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.
9. Orlando Magic: Stars!
Well, you can’t fault the Orlando Magic for trying to be creative, I guess. In fact, because you most likely expected me to absolutely pan the people who designed this jersey for spending too much time in the sun and trying to replicate the crazy Florida people stereotype, I’m going to praise the team and its designers for taking a risk. We like that! Risk taking is alright!
But, it’s not that the risk wasn’t too much here – let’s just be glad there wasn’t a wizard or a magician – but it didn’t work. This is too corny and too childish, but given some of the other stuff on this list, at least that’s my issue with this and not a jersey being too bright or messing with tradition. Not bad, Orlando.
8. Philadelphia 76ers: Blue…for some reason
Now on one hand, I like the idea of the Philadelphia 76ers replacing their iconic Allen Iverson era black uniforms with a red and blue set, but I don’t like how this came out. There’s something about this jersey that makes things feel cluttered, which was a problem a few years ago and could be even more of a problem depending on how teams use their advertising space. Like I said in the intro, as long as the jerseys don’t become NASCAR uniforms, I’m fine with advertisements.
But when you don’t exactly have advertisements on the jerseys and things still look cluttered, that’s an issue. Then again, this also could be the nostalgia talking because I really didn’t want the 76ers to ditch the A.I. jerseys. The black and yellow was a solid mix, but not as solid as Wiz Khalifa’s.
7. Phoenix Suns: Current home uniforms
Don’t kill me, don’t kill me, don’t kill me. That I’m putting these as the Phoenix Suns jerseys say two things, one of which is that the Suns have done a great job with their uniforms over the years. People really seem to like these jerseys, and I understand why – they signaled a new era for the Suns (one year after Steve Nash left, so the Icon Rule applies) and there’s some creativity to them.
But with all of the other jerseys that have come from the Suns rebranding, these stand out as the worst and most boring. Part of it, I think, is that it tries to echo the 1980s and 1990s without being too wacky…despite that being what those jerseys were all about!
6. Portland Trail Blazers: Turning Rip City into sleeved jerseys
Fine, I’m cheating again with the sleeved jerseys, but the Portland Trail Blazers had something unique and interesting with their Rip City jerseys; they channeled the groundbreaking jerseys of the 1980s while mixing it with the 1990s wackiness and 2010s attempts to break free from what was a stale late 2000s. Does all of that make sense? Good.
By making Rip City into sleeved jerseys, what made them so different and awesome was removed because they became the same corporate garbage nearly every other sleeved jersey is. I get it, the NBA wants to make money and capitalizing on turning some of the best alternate jerseys into sleeved raises their chances, but I hate what the sleeved jerseys have become. Please, let them be on the verge of leaving…
5. Sacramento Kings: Sacramento Royalty
We’re down to the final five jerseys, so find something to stop your eyes from bleeding and skin from falling apart. With all due respect, these Sacramento Kings jerseys look like they’re about to fall apart, like they were made in some kind of middle school home-ec class taught by a crazy cat lady who may or may not smell like a combo of human and feline urine. My middle school days were interesting.
In theory, the Sacramento Kings wearing gold uniforms make sense because they’re, you know, kings! But these did not come out well, in part because of how light the jerseys are; there’s not many gold NBA uniforms that work, I’ll admit that, but these do feel a bit cheap and rushed. Do better, Kings! Washington, for what its worth, pulled it off better… yes, I like those jerseys.
4. San Antonio Spurs: Camo
By no means do the San Antonio Spurs have the same long-standing tradition that the New York Yankees do, but the two wearing jerseys that don’t match their regular uniforms – even if it’s to honor the military – doesn’t always work. Neither team usually wears throwbacks – in fact, the Yankees have only worn one this century to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of Fenway Park in 2012 – so to see them in alternates that go against their typical gear is weird.
Trust me when I say I’m all for honoring our military and our armed forces, but it’s hard to imagine the Spurs in anything that’s not what they normally wear…and this is a team that had a really strange logo that’s been lost in time. The game just isn’t the same, it’s changing…
3. Toronto Raptors: St. Patrick’s Day
Another St. Patrick’s Day jersey? I’m still surprised the NBA celebrates St. Patrick’s Day given how much of the sport currently has nothing to do with Ireland, but there are more important things to worry about. How is Michael Beasley going to do with the New York Knicks? That’s an important thing to worry about!
Sticking in the Atlantic Division, you may be asking yourself why Canada celebrates St. Patrick’s Day, but there are a lot of Irish-Canadians and I am very interested to know which stereotype they lean toward more. These jerseys aren’t awful, especially not with the others on this list, but I don’t like them. Plain and simple. They’re bland, they lack excitement, and they’re just another alternate. That’s it. Let’s move on to another team struggling with green..
2. Utah Jazz: Stop the green
Enough. I don’t know what it is about the Utah Jazz that makes them think green is a viable jersey option, but this needs to stop. I’m fine with it on the logo in places and I’m fine with green Jazz t-shirts, but green Jazz jerseys? This is from someone who, based on the current NBA fan, seems to be in the majority about liking the Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer era Jazz uniforms. They had a nice look to them!
But these? This needs to end, but I don’t know how soon another rebrand will be coming. This actually raises an interesting question: with the Jazz losing Gordon Hayward to the Boston Celtics, does that count under the Icon Leaving rule, or do they get to keep their current look because of Rudy Gobert? Let us know in the comment section below…
1. Washington Wizards: A New Era?
The thing with these Washington Wizards jerseys, as minor is as it may seem, is that the team basically pulled a post-Kevin Garnett Minnesota Timberwolves: bad things for your franchise have happened (the T-Wolves traded KG to Boston and the GunGate scandal in Washington), but there’s a new face in town (Kevin Love and John Wall respectively) and we need to move on from the bad times by starting with slight alterations.
What is the point of that? Why not just begin the rebrand then and go all out with your new franchise player? And for those of you wondering why the gold jerseys aren’t in this spot, but these are, here’s my answer: the Wizards pulled those gold jerseys off and made them look flashy when the NBA was trying to get away from black culture. It’s hard to hate that.
Which of these jerseys do you think is the absolute worst? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below…
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