The NBA has been releasing more and more jerseys in recent years, as teams have elected to adopt certain jerseys for special occasions and the NBA has even pushed for sleeved uniforms as a way of making them easier to market for every-day wear by fans. With all the different jersey releases comes a lot of regret, as every team has that one jersey they would want forgotten. A lot of times, a team may go away from their traditional colors or they attempt to go for a throwback that simply didn’t work in the first place. For example, remember when Miami brought back those Hardwood Classic jerseys with the pink stripe? It looked like they were trying to be the Miami Vice rather than the Heat.
You could say you’ll see a lot of 90s jerseys on this list as well. The 90s were a decade when the league wasn’t afraid to go bold in their jersey picks and as a result, we got a lot of horrible looks. While we’ll always credit a team for trying to do something different, it’s been proven time and time again, simplicity is often the best way to go about designing a uniform. With all that in mind, let’s venture back and look at every team’s jersey you probably forgot all about.
30. Atlanta Hawks: 70s Stripe
When NBA fans think of the Atlanta Hawks, they think red. Red has been a dominant color on the team’s jersey since at least 1972. So when this throwback jersey was added to Atlanta’s rotation of uniforms in 2003, it may have seemed odd to some NBA fans who forgot about the Hawks’ green and blue origins.
The Atlanta Hawks of the early 1970s were decked out in this jersey that featured stripes and the player name under the number. In what would be fairly common now, this jersey was considered ahead of their time for the NBA in 1970. It very well may have been the inspiration for the fictional Flint Tropics uniform from Will Ferrell’s movie “Semi-Pro.” Seeing Millsap in these on occasion doesn’t look right.
29. Boston Celtics: Viva L’Italia
You would have to a die-hard fan of the Boston Celtics to remember this jersey the team wore during the 2007 preseason in Italy. In fact, some Celtics fans may even forge the team traveled to Italy to start the season that ultimately ended with a 17th banner. But players like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, as well as coach Doc Rivers, had talked about the value of the trip in terms of preparing the team.
This uniform was created to help the Celtics honor the host nation by incorporating the Italian flag into “Boston” and the shamrocks featured on the shorts. The fact that this jersey isn’t seen around the North End in Boston is a sign that fans have completely forgotten about the Celtics’ Italian jersey.
28. Brooklyn Nets: Sky Blues
Take a look at this Nets’ jersey. Can you picture it on a team representing Brooklyn? We didn’t think so. But this look was used in a simpler time when they were the New Jersey Nets. The team tried to stay consistent with a red, white, and blue jersey pattern. But things may have strayed a bit too far in the 90s when this sky blue jersey was put on the court.
This edition of Nets jersey was used for a grand total of one season before it was retired in favor of a more solid blue color of the same design. From there, the Nets would adopt the jersey most fans think of when they remember the Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, and Richard Jefferson era of the team’s history.
27. Charlotte Hornets: Buzz City
They were the Charlotte Hornets. Then they were the Charlotte Bobcats. Now they’re the Hornets again. But does anyone outside of Charlotte also know that the Hornets call themselves Buzz City? In case you forgot, the team decided to remind (or tell) everyone with these jerseys introduced ahead of the 2015-16 NBA season.
The jersey is referred to as a “pride” uniform designed to celebrate the city in a similar way Detroit has “Motor City.” The look also incorporated sleeve which is a look that very few fans and players seem to actually enjoy. Maybe Charlotte should worry about fans forgetting if they are the Hornets or the Bobcats before trying to get us to remember they’re Buzz City.
26. Chicago Bulls: Throwback To The Stags
Unless you’re a dedicated historian of the Chicago Bulls franchise or the NBA overall, you probably don’t remember the Bulls throwback to commemorate the Chicago Stags. The Stags were an American Basketball Association team for three years and did manage one NBA season before going bankrupt.
In 2006 the Chicago Bulls donned a Stags-inspired jersey and shorts combination to honor the team’s 60th anniversary. The satin shorts were unconventional for the modern NBA but the Bulls players seemed to approve of the look no matter how out of place the blue looked in Chicago. Once again, this seems like a uniform that was probably meant to sell some extra merch, but we can’t picture this thing being brought back again. Imagine if Dwyane Wade had to wear these?
25. Cleveland Cavaliers: Metallic 80s
Thanks to LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love the Cleveland Cavaliers jersey has become cool again. It took a few years off when LeBron took his talents to South Beach but it has seen a resurgence in popularity once the King returned home.
Before LeBron’s first round with Cleveland, a lot of NBA fans probably remember the light light blue and orange jersey the team used as it was led by an over-the-hill Shawn Kemp. Prior to that the team had several versions of the maroon and gold jerseys as it tried to establish itself in the NBA. The Cavs have made several attempts to draw inspiration from its past jerseys but it has never memorialized this version first used in 1981. The metallic gold was a new look for Cleveland but it did little to change the team’s fortune and was a forgotten look just three seasons later.
24. Dallas Mavericks: Green Days
The Dallas Mavericks went through a lot of changes when Mark Cuban took over as owner in 2000. In addition to their play on the court improving, the team also had its entire look revamped. The silver and blue colors introduced in the jersey seemed like a much better fit for a Texas team. Much better than the green jersey the team sported in the 80s.
Fans would be forgiven if they don’t remember these green jerseys because the Mavericks would probably prefer that nobody remember the franchise’s early days. The team was consistently bad so the new look was likely part of erasing the past and moving towards a more successful future. The blue look they sport now is a far better look for the Mavs and they should never look back.
23. Denver Nuggets: Rainbow City
Is the city of Denver, Colorado known for its skyline? What about for rainbows? While we may not know the answers to these questions, we do know that both appeared on the Nuggets jersey for about a decade starting in the early 1980s.
For a jersey that seems so out-of-the-box and unique to the NBA, it has mainly been forgotten in the Denver Nuggets history. The team tried to pay homage to this look, albeit only slightly, in alternate uniforms introduced around 2012. But ask any NBA fan and they’ll probably only know the Nuggets for a mountain logo and dark blue jerseys at least until the Carmelo Anthony era. A lot of fans actually wouldn’t mind seeing this jersey come back.
22. Detroit Pistons: Lightning Bolts
Nothing says Detroit Pistons, from the the Motor City, like lightning bolts….right? If you disagree then you’re probably like a lot of NBA fans and forgot about this jersey. The one shown here was worn by the Pistons in 2004 as a throwback to the “Bolt” era of the late 70s and early 80s.
Those Detroit teams actually wore this uniform starting around 1978 under new head coach Dick Vitale. He didn’t make a very big impact on the Pistons franchise and neither did these jersey. It’s nearly impossible to find a quality picture of the original uniform in action. They were dropped by 1981 and gave way to the more memorable Pistons look of the late 80s and early 90s.
21. Golden State Warriors: Yellow Sleeves
Steph Curry’s Golden State Warriors jersey has been the top selling NBA jersey the past two seasons. It obviously coincides with his rise to prominence in the league as well as the Warriors’ run of success. Thankfully it has also come during a time when the Warriors ditched its lightning bolt man logo used during the Baron Davis days.
So while most people know the Golden Gate Bridge logo used by the Warriors now, there was an alternative jersey the team debuted in 2013. The sleeved jersey was met with largely negative reviews by players but the NBA continued to put teams in the restrictive tops. What makes the entire uniform more unique is the striped shorts that would otherwise make the look similar to the NFL’s color rush editions.
20. Houston Rockets: Clutch City
For the 2016-2017 season the Houston Rockets had unveiled three new alternate uniforms. Included in that trio was this “Clutch City” sleeved jersey with a red and yellow color scheme reminiscent of McDonald’s. All in all, fans may struggle to recall exactly when they were worn.
What is even harder to remember is where exactly the nickname “Clutch City” for Houston originated. The jersey follows a pattern set by other teams such as the Pistons’ “Motor City” and the Trail Blazers’ “Rip City” style. But for Houston, “Clutch City” is said to have been first used in the 1994 playoffs when the Rockets overcame an 0-2 deficit to the Phoenix Suns to reach the NBA Finals. Either way, we doubt we’ll remember these in a few years time.
19. Indiana Pacers: Bold And Gold
The Indiana Pacers are one of the few organizations that have kept its colors and logo relatively the same since day one. Even since the American Basketball Association days, Indiana has kept things blue and yellow and it has largely been cited as one of the better combinations in the NBA.
The most memorable looks for the Pacers is probably the deep blue or pinstripe jerseys made famous by Reggie Miller in the 90s and early 2000s. Forgotten in the history of Pacer jerseys may be this one, which the team wore from 1985 to 1990. It is very much a late 80s look and was one of the last instances of Indiana using its ABA logo. While the shade of blue is eye-catching, the team would go for a darker tone in it its more signature editions.
18. Los Angeles Clippers: 80s Style
When most NBA fans think of the Los Angeles Clippers they probably see the team in red and white uniforms. They also probably aren’t sure what exactly is a “Clipper.” So if you forgot that a clipper is a sailing term, they you also probably forgot that the Clippers jersey used to be primarily blue.
For a team that started in San Diego and is named for a sailing reference, the shade of blue featured in this uniform makes sense. The font used for the team name and numbers does seem a little off and would perhaps work better on an old baseball uniform than a basketball jersey. But this one came out in the 80s when the NBA, and Clippers, were still trying to figure out its looks.
17. Los Angeles Lakers: Minneapolis Throwback
A lot of things are synonymous with the Lakers beyond winning championships: The glitz and glamor of Los Angeles, the celebrity fans, the theater-like atmosphere of the Staples Center, and perhaps most of all the Purple and Gold. This color scheme has long been the Lakers’ signature look through the days of Jerry West, Magic Johnson, and Kobe Bryant.
That’s why it may be hard for fans to remember that the Lakers started off in Minneapolis, hence the team name, and wore the light blue and gold colors seen above. During the height of the throwback craze in the early 2000s, the Lakers played in these uniforms but it never looked quite right. It just didn’t fit Los Angeles and therefore has been a largely forgotten jersey.
16. Memphis Grizzlies: Vancouver Era
The Grizzlies franchise moved to Memphis in 2001 after only six years of existence. Since the relocation, the team’s jerseys have been pretty recognizable due to the color choices and font that are unlike most other NBA teams. With such little time spent in Vancouver, it may be hard for us to remember just what the expansion Grizzlies looked like when the first took the court in 1995.
The team name across the front of the jersey looked like something out of an old school cartoon. And remember that huge grizzly bear gripping a basketball on the shorts? Didn’t think so. That, along with the pattern-clad border of the collar, sleeves, and waist, gave us a forgettable jersey and another reason for the Grizzlies to get out of Vancouver.
15. Miami Heat: Home Strong
For the 2015-16 season the Miami Heat introduced this jersey called “Home Strong” as part of efforts to honor the military. It was stylized after military uniforms and included references to the five branches of the military as well as the stars and stripes of the American flag.
The Home Strong jersey was used in three games in November to coincide with Veterans Day. Fans may have missed the look considering it was just the three early season games. However, the Heat made a much more lasting impact than wearing these uniforms by donating proceeds of sales to military charities on top of recognizing those in the armed forces. While they didn’t really look like basketball uniforms, at least the proceeds went to a good cause.
14. Milwaukee Bucks: Oh, Deer
This jersey from the Milwaukee Bucks is one of those that you only remember once you see it again. A few shades of purple mixed with a couple shades of green. That was the look Milwaukee wanted to go with, apparently. They stopped wearing the uniform in 1996 but briefly returned in 2013 for a throwback promotion.
When you think of names like Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson, and Vin Baker that played for the Bucks in the mid-90s, you don’t always picture them in dark green jerseys with an angry cartoon deer on the front. The Bucks may want to keep it that way. The Bucks have found a good look now, so let’s hope the throwback craze doesn’t return and we have to see The Greek Freak sporting these.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: 90s Green And Blue
The Minnesota Timberwolves have a very short history but one that includes a very long streak of losing. The T-Wolves entered the NBA in 1989 as an expansion team and have little to hang their hat on other than introducing the world to Kevin Garnett.
Fans likely picture Garnett in the Minnesota jersey of the early 2000s that appeared almost silver and shiny with its sharp lettering and cartoonish wolf on the front. But before that, the Timberwolves had a much more simplistic design based on its blue and green color scheme. The jersey seemed to be more at home as the uniform of a mid-level college team than that of a NBA squad, which is why few fans could accurately identify it.
12. New Orleans Pelicans: Red Birds
The New Orleans Pelicans have not been around long enough for NBA fans to remember any of their uniforms unless they’re a fan or paying close attention. The team rebranded as the Pelicans in 2012 after the franchise was known as the Charlotte Hornets and then New Orleans Hornets.
While the primary home and away jerseys have featured a midnight blue and gold scheme reminiscent of Mardi Gras, hardcore jersey aficionados may also be able to place the team’s red alternate uniform. It was introduced for the 2014-15 season and donned by the Pelicans for a total of four games. The red color is flashy and the jersey looks good overall. But a two year old team wearing a uniform only four times is not a recipe for being remembered.
11. New York Knicks: Christmas Orange
It seems like the New York Knicks have been memorable for a whole lot of things that take place off the court rather than on it. Problems with ownership, coaching changes, player beefs, and even retired players making waves have all turned the Knicks into a punchline among NBA fans. In addition to the team’s forgettable play on the court you can add these 2012 Christmas specials.
We can’t blame the NBA for trying to capitalize on its Christmas Day games by unveiling new uniforms that are designed to sell merchandise more than anything. But we can blame players like Carmelo Antony for making things worse by pairing the orange jersey and orange shorts with orange sleeves and an orange headband. Man, that gives a headache.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder: Fauxback
Since moving from Seattle and dropping the SuperSonics identity, the Oklahoma City Thunder have been mostly using the same jerseys that fans know. The blue and orange shades used by the team are fairly unique. With such a limited history and prominent players like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as models, NBA fans may think they know all the Thunder uniforms but how many truly recall this 2012 alternative?
It has been referred to as a “fauxback” by some due to its resemblance to jerseys from a bygone era when in reality it is a brand new design. There are similarities to a jersey worn by the then Cincinnati Royals (now Sacramento Kings) during the 1960s. Ultimately the lack of design, style, or memorable color make this jersey very, very forgettable.
9. Orlando Magic: Lucky Stars
When fans think of the Orlando Magic they probably first picture Shaquille O’Neal in the pinstripe jersey. The black and white versions of those uniforms were used from the team’s inception through the late 90s. And while younger fans may know the current version of Orlando’s uniform, they’d be mistaken not to get familiar with the star pattern used in the early 2000s.
These shiny blues were used in the Tracy McGrady era that was expected to be a return to playoff success for the Magic. However, the team had annual struggles in the postseason and never found success past the second round. With nothing to show for signing players like McGrady and Grant Hill, this part of Orlando Magic history and its jersey are forgettable.
8. Philadelphia 76ers: Shooting Stars
The Philadelphia 76ers have been the model of consistency when it comes to jersey colors. The red, white, and blue palette has always been in use as the team makes sure to pay homage to the city’s colonial roots. Fans can close their eyes and picture Dr. J with “Sixers” across his chest or Allen Iverson crossing someone up with the shiny, metallic jerseys.
Harder to recall would be these shooting star jerseys the team first wore in 1991. Even the 76ers organization referred to this look as a “departure” so its understandable if you can’t recall the look in action. The shooting stars design was only used until 1994 during a stretch in which the team went 86-160. Just another reason to forget this look all together.
7. Phoenix Suns: Black Sun
The Phoenix Suns have kept their uniform relatively consistent since the early 1990s. It has almost alway been some variation of their sun/basketball logo accompanied with the team name. More recent alternatives have emphasized Phoenix by including the letters “PHX” across the chest.
Most fans probably remember this jersey in its home white and road purple versions. However, Phoenix also had a third option in the all black edition. It was probably forgettable since it went against the NBA trend of the era in which uniforms became increasingly busy and flashy. Matching the lack of memorable uniform was the team’s play during the era as the Suns remain without a championship and only have two Finals appearances.
6. Portland Trail Blazers: 1970s Red
The Portland Trail Blazers have been consistent with their uniform and logo for a long time. Most NBA fans would recognize the black and red color scheme as well as the jersey that typically bears a diagonal red strip across the front.
But in the simpler era of NBA jerseys, the team went with an all red jersey that featured “Portland” and large numbers on the front. The font was out of the ordinary for the 1970s era and was considered fairly hip by those standards. Add in the stripe running down the side and extending to the shorts, and you can see how Portland was at the forefront of NBA “fashion” even back then. They’ve mostly stuck with tradition since then, and we’re thankful for that.
5. Sacramento Kings: Two-Tone
The Sacramento Kings are the oldest franchise in the NBA. They started off in New York as the Rochester Royals, where they won their only championship in 1951, before moving to Cincinnati and then Kansas City before finally settling in Sacramento.
During this time, the color scheme has largely stayed the same as the team tries to play up the “regal” aspects of the Royals/Kings moniker. But when Sacramento started playing in these two-tone, checkered jerseys in the 1990s, they looked much more like jesters than kings. The distribution of black and purple on the uniform isn’t exactly easy on the eyes and it seems like rather than pick one color over the other, the team decided on this horrible compromise. Their gold jersey was their worst look, but at least it was memorable, if anything for how ridiculous it looked.
4. San Antonio Spurs: Camouflage
The San Antonio Spurs have been criticized by some for their fundamental style of basketball that is much more substance than style. Others have cited this as the reason the team has been so successful and dominant. Adding to that has been the straightforward jerseys the team wear in black and silver.
But for two games in the 2013-14 season, the Spurs made a fashion statement in the name of military appreciation. The reasoning behind the camo uniforms was rightly praised but the execution of the design was not met with much praise. Much more memorable than these uniforms was how the Spurs honored military personnel and veterans by offering discounted tickets and holding charity raffles.
3. Toronto Raptors: St. Patrick’s Day In Canada
When thinking of the top cities to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day how many of us would say Toronto? New York, Chicago, and Boston all come to mind first but Toronto does not take the Irish celebration lightly. If you forgot, then the green uniforms the team first sported in 2008 should serve as a reminder.
While other teams like the Celtics and Bulls have donned special St. Patrick’s Day jerseys, it was still surprising to see the Raptors decked out in green instead of the traditional white and purple or red. The green may have been more reptilian and aligned better with the dinosaur-inspired nickname but few fans can actually recall the Raptors celebrating the luck of the Irish. Not really a memorable look overall.
2. Utah Jazz: Purple Mountains
The Utah Jazz of the mid-to-late 1990s are probably remembered more for continually being shredded by Michael Jordan and have an NBA championship elude its stars Karl Malone and John Stockton. What may be forgotten from that era is the purple, mountain-inspired jerseys the team wore.
We know that the “Jazz” team name came via the organization’s start in New Orleans and that it was continued when the franchise relocated to Utah. The first uniforms payed homage to this heritage with jerseys incorporating musical notes into the lettering. But in then came the switch. More emphasis was put on the location, Utah, than the team name. What resulted was a uniform typical of the era (bold, big, and colorful) but also contradicted the essence of jazz with its sharp edges and, well…mountains.
1. Washington Wizards: Gold Alternate
Before the Washington Wizards embraced the red, white, and blue color scheme befitting of a team in the nation’s capital, they went with a blue and gold pattern that kept the focus on wizards. Even Michael Jordan’s return couldn’t help these jerseys capture the imagination of NBA fans.
It was also during this era that the team unveiled this shining gold alternate. It was used sporadically over three seasons beginning in 2006 before being shelved. No part of the look is particularly memorable from the stars, odd shorts, and peculiar shade of gold. Thankfully the Wizards finally realized how wrong it was for the nation’s capital not to wear red, white and blue. Hopefully there aren’t any Wizards fans walking around with these things on.
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