Zubaz, Hammer pants, jumpsuits, leg warmers, and anything else from the 1980s and 90s are all fantastic examples of how we have progressed as a society in terms of stylistic choices. Some of us, including myself, may own one or more of these embarrassing articles out of irony or earnest belief in the retro movement, but most understand that leaving the past in the past is a good thing.
Unfortunately, this does not always translate to our favorite NBA teams.
From the dawn of time, NBA owners have trotted out a mix of brilliant and bogus jersey designs in the attempt to market their team effectively. Since 2000, those same minds have rolled out a series of duds that have transcended the sport while also sprinkling in some massive embarrassments to their own club. Rather than praising the most beautiful jerseys for each franchise, the time has come to call out the worst of the worst from Atlanta to Washington. No one is safe from some of the worst fashion decisions to grace the hardwood.
What perhaps started as an ingenious way to introduce new merchandise to fans slowly became a way of finding out just how weird the 2000s could get. With some of the ugliest entries coming out of places like Washington and L.A., the trend of poor design decisions has unfortunately gone coast-to-coast, like a James Harden layup gone terribly wrong. While there will be some close calls in this collection of infamy, the separation between the top and bottom is minuscule.
While most people love to deck out their wardrobe with NBA jerseys from their favorite teams, no one will likely be purchasing these eyesores anytime soon.
30 Atlanta Hawks: 2004-07 Yellow Alternate
The Hawks have not shifted around with their jersey design very often since 2000, but the organization's major stumbling block came in the form of a mustard-yellow alternative uniform worn from 2004-2007. They first rolled out these road alternates during one of the worst periods in Atlanta basketball history, when then-rookie Josh Smith headlined a team of misfits that went 13-69, an impressively pathetic mark that is among the league's elite in terms of ineptitude. Smith brought home the Slam Dunk Contest title that season, however, giving Hawks' fans something rare to cheer about.
29 Boston Celtics: 2014-Present Gray Alternate
Boston has rarely diverged from its standard green and white attire over the past 70 years of the franchise's existence. While head coach Brad Stevens continues to lead the Celtics into a new era, the club has picked up one of the ugliest sleeved uniforms in the league. With their gray attire, this has been the most drastic departure from the organization's famed apparel that has hardly changed since the days of Red Auerbach and Bill Russell.
28 Brooklyn (New Jersey) Nets: 1997-2009 Road Uniform
With such a short history in Brooklyn, the Nets have not had the opportunity to roll out a horrendous jersey yet. Even during their former days in New Jersey, the franchise did not roll out anything that stuck out like a sore thumb, but their home and away jerseys lacked the sparkle that graces the rest of the league's apparel. The Nets failed to deliver a jersey that excited their fans, consistently rolling out one jersey with variations in color only.
27 Charlotte Hornets: 2008-09 Road Uniform
Like the Seattle SuperSonics, Charlotte had their basketball history altered when the franchise was moved to New Orleans. Unlike the Washington metropolis, however, the North Carolina gained another team thanks to the expansion of the league. This new team, the Bobcats, unfortunately, chose orange as their primary color. While Halloween will always have a connection with that mixture of yellow and red, sports teams have notoriously fallen short of incorporating that hue in an attractive manner.
26 Chicago Bulls: 'Green Week'
When a team's colors and logos change as little as the Celtics and Bulls, little can be mocked when discussing the squad's fashion choices. Unfortunately for Chicago, those green jerseys that come out during the NBA's 'Green Week' need to be put on blast. The 2008-09 edition featured red lettering, making eyesore too weak of a word to describe how awful these unis look. Former MVP Derrick Rose hardly made this look bearable, showcasing just how deplorable this design was.
25 Cleveland Cavaliers: 1999-2003 Road Uniform
The champs have prospered in the LeBron James era, capturing their first title in franchise history this past summer. Before King James was drafted in 2003 by the franchise, however, the Cavs were rocking one of the worst jerseys in club history. From 2000-03, Cleveland had one of the blandest designs in the NBA to go along with one of the worst teams in both conferences during that stretch.
24 Dallas Mavericks: 'Trash Bags'
Not only do the Mavericks have one terrible jersey since 2000, they managed to scrape together two of them. There can only be one, however, and slightly edging out the green throwbacks is the Mavericks' attempt at finding a jersey of the future. A shiny gray jersey made infamous during the Steve Nash era in Dallas makes it easy to put Dallas on blast, along with owner Mark Cuban. The putrid design was dubbed 'trash bag', and deservedly so.
23 Denver Nuggets: 'Green Week'
Another 'Green Week' misfire comes in the form of Denver's attempt at the environmental awareness movement started by the league. While heavily considering the 'White Pride' jersey as the franchise's worst, based almost solely on the stupidity of the name given to the uniform, it has a decent appearance as far as alternate unis go. Again, while the green movement is something that should be applauded because of its social and global productivity, nothing can hide the fact that no franchise can make that color look good outside of Boston.
22 Detroit Pistons: 1996-01 Road Uniform
Barely making the cut for the time-period in question is the Pistons' teal away uniforms, worn last in 2001. Prior to Detroit's run as a consistent title contender, the franchise was fading into the background after the Bad Boys chapter ended in the early 1990s. Ben Wallace was the only piece of that magnificent title team in 2004 that was on the roster at that point, with Chauncey Billups still on the Minnesota Timberwolves, Rip Hamilton with the Wizards, and Rasheed Wallace residing in Portland, Oregon.
21 Golden State Warriors: 1997-2010 Road Uniform
The Bay Area is thankful for a few things, some of them being Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant, the other being the return to one of the cleanest uniforms in the league. From 1997-2010, Golden State had just two winning seasons and wore one of the worst home and away combinations in the NBA. Gone were the days of the blue and gold, and in was the strange adoption of dark blue and orange. Throw in the little man holding a lightning bolt, and a completely different vibe surrounded the Oakland-based team.
20 Houston Rockets: 'Clutch City' Alternate
Clutch City was not always the nickname for Houston; in the 1990s, the Oilers and Rockets both had major meltdowns in crucial moments that cost them both several important games. After the Rockets' back-to-back titles while Michael Jordan was playing baseball, that all changed. Shedding the name of Choke City allowed the metropolis to recover its sports dignity. Unfortunately for those fans, the franchise that afforded Houston that sick nickname rolled out some terrible sleeved jerseys to celebrate that identity.
19 Indiana Pacers: Hickory High Alternates
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the classic sports film Hoosiers, the Indiana Pacers rolled out some vintage gear that would make Gene Hackman start talking about how the hoop is 10 feet high, no matter where you're playing. For ten home games, the Pacers wore these odes to film greatness, but instead reminded everyone about the bitter debate between ketchup and mustard. Asymmetry can be cool, and clashing colors do have their place, but unfortunately for the Pacers, they just could not pull it off.
18 Los Angeles Clippers: Black Alternates
The Clippers' new jerseys, both home and away, were brought in with high hopes that the new design would match the team's high performance and inspire a fan base to believe in the organization. Instead, the transition failed miserably and L.A.'s best team swapped out a good jersey for what they have now. Even worse for the Clips are those dreadful black alternates.
17 Los Angeles Lakers: Minneapolis Lakers Throwback
Five of the Lakers' titles were won in Minneapolis from 1947-60, and L.A. felt inclined to honor those accomplishments in 2002 by decking themselves out in their old-school gear. George Mikan, Vern Mikkelsen, and John Kundla were some of the all-time greats that made the franchise so successful back then, but there was a reason the colors of the team changed shortly after the organization was relocated to Los Angeles. Ugly does not begin to describe the blue and yellow, highlighting just how fortunate the future generations of Lakers were that purple was introduced to the color scheme in 1966.
16 Memphis Grizzlies: ABA Throwback
As a number one contender for the most appalling fashion decision on this list, which would be an impressive and dubious honor to hold, the Grizzlies supplied some of the hottest garbage ever. Whether or not this was an attempt to piss someone off on the team is still up for debate, but in a matchup with the Clippers, both parties thought it would be a great idea to wear their respective ABA throwbacks.
The Grizzlies deserve a good, old-fashioned Charles Barkley 'turrible' on this one. Not only did Memphis resurrect one of the dumbest jerseys in the history of any league that has ever existed, they managed to make their team look circus-esque in the green and yellow. To describe it in a different way; when watching the game in which these uniforms were worn, several televisions were adjusted to make sure the settings were not screwing with the colors being worn.
15 Miami Heat: Miami Floridians Throwback
When your team has LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, then that organization can get away with a lot of things. The Miami Floridians, the 1970s ABA team that had a questionable taste in style, throwback season of 2012 featured the magenta and orange threads six times over the course of 82 games. It is understandable to want to honor Miami's brief professional basketball history, but someone somewhere needs to be applauded for completely scrapping that Floridians design.
14 Milwaukee Bucks: Big Deer Throwback
The 1990s were a weird time both on and off the basketball court. For some reason, every NBA team affiliated with an animal as their mascot had to imprint it boldly on their jersey. The Hawks, Bucks, and Raptors were among the league leaders in creature appreciation, each creating similar designs that flaunt the beast of each respective organization. This translated, however, to some of the most polarizing reactions from fans around the Association.
13 Minnesota Timberwolves: Sleeved Alternates
Minnesota has an interesting timeline with their uniforms that aligns closely with the arrival and departure of Kevin Garnett. At peak-KG, the T-Wolves had a fierce design that was one of the coolest in the league at that point. It even holds up today, becoming a fashionable choice among those that rock NBA uniforms in their personal wardrobe for whatever the occasion might be. Once the Big Ticket was shipped out of town at his own behest, the jerseys got progressively softer, resulting in one of the worst in the history of the franchise.
12 New Orleans Pelicans: NOLA Alternates
The NBA's 'Pride' uniforms were littered with hits and misses, and this can safely be counted among those that eluded the target. Covered in Mardi Gras colors, the New Orleans Pelicans doused their sleeved uniforms in a deep vat of local culture. However, the Pels are in a strange spot. Every team in the league has some sort of ability to pull out a throwback jersey, save the Oklahoma City Thunder. Unlike the Thunder, New Orleans has lost its ability to utilize anything that is related to their former moniker, as the Hornets have been reclaimed by Charlotte.
11 New York Knicks: St. Patrick's Day Alternate
Once a year, every year, the New York Knicks get to wear their green uniforms on St. Patrick's Day. Everyone gets to be Irish on one particular day in March, and in a city with a strong and proud Irish immigrant heritage, the Knicks celebrate along with millions of others in the Five Boroughs. What really stinks, however, is how unappealing the jerseys are when they are finally brought out during the final quarter of the season.
10 Oklahoma City Thunder: Orange Alternates
Two colors to avoid when creating a jersey are green and orange. Some can pull it off just due to tradition, like the Bucks, Celtics, and Knicks. Others have a harder time building around a garish mix of yellow and red, reminding viewers too often of Halloween or a pumpkin patch, if the pumpkins were all over six feet tall. A major challenge for OKC after they pilfered professional basketball out of Seattle is what to do with their kits moving forward.
The latest orange incarnation of attire is the simplest of the franchise's attire, leaving a lot to be desired. In fact, almost all of their designs since the inception of the Thunder have fallen flat. Had it not been for the massive amount of star power with the likes of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden, perhaps no one would be interested in owning a piece of OKC gear outside of the state of Oklahoma.
9 Orlando Magic: 2003-2007 Home and Away Uniforms
The most magical place on earth lost its bewitching charm after changing over to the dullest home and away combinations in the league. With Dwight Howard just entering the league, gone were the stars, pinstripes, and everything else that made Orlando's gear special. The star in Magic had been replaced with a regular "a", and nothing was fun anymore, besides the antics from Howard as he romped over opponents in his best Shaq impression.
8 Philadelphia 76ers: 2007-09 Home Uniform
Of all teams on this list, the Sixers provided the greatest challenge in finding their worst jersey since 2000. After scrutinizing every detail of each set, their home uniform from the prime days of Andre Iguodala in Philly takes the cake. That is not to say that this is a terrible jersey, and almost every single one of Philadelphia's designs have been a classic outside of those atrocities that Charles Barkley had to wear in the 1990s.
7 Phoenix Suns: Orange Sleeved Alternates
As the Suns have progressed through the decades, their jersey designs have gotten incrementally better. One stumbling block, unfortunately, is the orange sleeved look that Phoenix wore from 2013 to 2015. The retired look had trouble, like most of its bicep-covering brethren, gaining favor from a bulk of the players and fans that love the game has been a challenging task. Its main design flaw, like every one of Phoenix's jerseys today, is replacing the basketball at the end of the streaks with the players' numbers.
6 Portland Trail Blazers: None
The Blazers have been so consistent in their uniform design that it has hardly changed since 2002. Even their sleeved apparel looks fantastic, so there is really nothing to rip here. Knowing what looks great is a skill within itself, so not going with anything outlandish has been one of the most impressive features of the Blazers' and Adidas' creative team. Taking any of their jerseys to task would be a crime within itself.
5 Sacramento Kings: Gold Alternate
Unlike their West Coast neighbors in Oregon, the Kings have plenty of mistakes to rail on, luckily for us. From 2005 to 2007, Sacramento decided these pseudo-throwbacks were exactly what the team needed to show off their roots and pride for the organization. Thankfully, those roots were put away just as quickly. For a franchise as futile and hopeless as Sactown, ugly alternates are almost fitting for the ineptitude that haunts its hallways. The stripes going down the side of the uniform created an asymmetrical nightmare, and the combination of gray, purple, and dark gold was just another of the endless things wrong with this gear.
4 San Antonio Spurs: Camo Uniforms
While the concept was fantastic and the reasoning unquestionable, the execution failed miserably. The 2013 camouflage uniforms that the Spurs wore in honor of our men and women in the armed services fell well short of anything that resembled a good-looking jersey. In a location nicknamed "Military City USA", over 300,000 active and retired military and government workers call the South-Texas-town home. Adidas' "Pride" uniforms pop up again on this list, a bad trend for what was supposed to be a unique and fun trend for the NBA.
3 Toronto Raptors: Camo Uniforms
The original camouflage uniform originated out Toronto in 2011, honoring Canada's military. As the creator of this awful design, which went on to be copied by San Antonio in 2012 and 2013, Toronto Drake's must take full responsibility for the mini-blight this caused across the league. Although they only wore it three times over the course of 2011, once was enough. DeMar DeRozan tried his hardest to make this work, but he was not quite the DeMar DeRozan we know and love today.
2 Utah Jazz: 'Pride' Uniform
Apparently, Real Salt Lake got to design their own basketball uniform for the Jazz. Utah's newest alternate jersey in Adidas' "Pride" series looks more like Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors should be headed to the pitch, rather than finding an open shot behind the three-point arc. The Jazz have headed in the correct direction by ditching the mountain range logo for the music note. Their color schemes improved dramatically from the Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer days, and Utah has finally turned into a team that can contend for a playoff spot.
1 Washington Wizards: The Duracell Battery
Saving the worst for last is merely a coincidence, as the Wizards have far and away stolen that title from everyone else in the league. These alternates, which were worn from 2006 to 2009, encompassed the Agent Zero era and showed just how ludicrous jersey designers can get. I have no doubt in my mind that we can pull an average Wizards fan off the street and let them design something that looks miles better than the slop that Washington wore for three years.
Like a so-bad-it's-good "B-movie", the Wizards assembled a hilariously awful alternate game set that no one thought to scrap until a year and a half before the entire re-brand initiated in 2011. On a list of poor decisions for the Wizards since 2000, this has to be right up there behind signing Gilbert Arenas to that hindsight-lovers' moronic contract. Memphis' throwback was all kinds of bad, but at least they only used it for one or two games. Washington's mistake was repeated over a span of three years. Not only is that an indictment on the blindness of the Wizards' front office, it shows just how out of touch they are.
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