Over the last few years, we have seen the evolution of NBA jerseys. The creative side of the NBA has certainly shown with special jerseys commemorating special events across the globe; Christmas, for the troops, throwbacks, St. Patrick's Day and many others. Certainly, with multiple new uniforms being introduced each season, the league has had its fair share of studs and duds; after all, new does not always equal better. And while the league has made quite an effort to pump out new threads for each team, some of them just look better than the others.
Fashion has always been a subjective matter and it is not any different with NBA jerseys. What looks good to you might look bad to others, and vice versa. In fact, some fans demand that abolition of sleeved jerseys while other cannot get enough of them.
Like we said, fashion is subjective and you may disagree with some of the ones that made the list but that is what makes jerseys one of the more popular merchandise in basketball; you will surely find something that fits your cup of tea.
With that in mind, here are 10 great NBA jerseys most fans might have forgotten, and 10 others that were rather forgettable.
20 Great Jersey – Orlando Magic (1990s Black Stripes)
During the '90s, the Orlando Magic were an up and coming team. Led by Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway, the blue and white signified a fresh beginning for Orlando. This all culminated in an NBA finals birth in 1992, the very first of the franchise.
Of course, what most people forget is that the Magic occasionally rocked the black stripes. A look quite different from blue and white, the dark color of black just looks right for the young team; in fact, the Magic looked more intimidating in black. The design did not change, but an extreme change of color just worked for them, and it is what most alternate jerseys fail to do these days.
The Magic still occasionally wear black today, but it does not capture the same swagger the '90s version did.
19 Forgotten For A Reason – Sacramento Kings (Mid 2000s Gold)
During the middle part of the 2000s, the Sacramento Kings were starting to decline from the championship contender they once were. At this point in time, Vlade Divac was on the verge of retirement and Chris Webber was on his way to Philadelphia.
With that in mind, the Kings wanted to start fresh and they bought out these gold jerseys to inspire the fans that better days are ahead.
The idea here is simple, a king is regarded as royalty and royalty is associated with gold. Unfortunately, the concept was good but the execution was lackluster. Gold as a color is hard to implement in uniforms and it showed with these. The Kings retired these jerseys after only two seasons.
18 Great Jersey – Phoenix Suns (1980s White)
When thinking of the Phoenix Suns’ past jerseys, most people tend to remember the jerseys Charles Barkley and crew used to rock, or the ones Steve Nash used to play in.
But for the better part of the '80s, the team wore these white jerseys. Even today these will look better than most as the neatness and simplicity just works. The lettering being in orange is a small detail that captures the essence of the team. Not to mention, the shorts have a simple “SUNS” design on them. This uniform just proves that it is never wrong to go with something simple.
This jersey made the image of Larry Nance Sr. seemingly walking on air better and that alone is enough reason to put this jersey on the list.
17 Forgotten For A Reason – Washington Wizards (Mid 2000s Throwback to the '70s)
During a game in the 2005-2006 season, the Washington Wizards faced the Miami Heat. The catch was both teams had to wear throwback jerseys. The Heat wore black, pink, and orange as a tribute to the ABA Miami Floridians. The Wizards, on the other hand,, wore a white, blue, and orange jersey as a tribute to the Baltimore Bullets.
Even though this jersey was never worn for long, the color scheme and design just look off. The stripe looks a bit out of place and quite frankly this looks like the opposite of the simplistic beauty of the '80s Suns jersey.
To be fair to the Wizards, this was a throwback to their past team. Maybe in the future, we will see a revamp of this concept executed better.
16 Great Jersey – Denver Nuggets (1990s Multi-Colored)
Back in the early days of the late '80s and early '90s, the Denver Nuggets were known for one thing – their fast-paced offense. Led by Alex English, the Nuggets ran teams out of the building with high scoring, high tempo games that proved to be a challenge for the opposing teams. The fact that the Nuggets did it while wearing this multi-colored, rainbow themed jersey makes it even sweeter.
The jersey itself presented Denver perfectly. At the very center of the jersey is a silhouette of the rocky mountains of Colorado. The gold color of the word “Nuggets” is a detail that most fans under appreciate. Lastly, the color was so unique at ahead of its time.
15 Forgotten For A Reason – Los Angeles Clippers (Mid 2000s Throwback to '70s)
Orange is a hard color to make work in jerseys. The Los Angeles Clippers proved this when they wore a throwback jersey for the Buffalo Braves of the '70s. The Braves’ color scheme was orange, black, and white, but it just looks off compared to the other jerseys back in the mid 2000’s.
Another feature that made the jersey’s look awkward was the design. The stripes going diagonally across the jersey looks out of place and it does not help that the Braves’ logo did not age well.
If we ever get another throwback to the '70s night, the Clippers certainly have a reference for what will not work. Hopefully, they do the Braves justice if they do decide to make an updated version of this one.
14 Great Jersey – Miami Heat (1990s Red)
Back in the 90s, the Miami Heat were a constant in the playoffs; granted, they did not go all the way to the Finals. Alonzo Mourning was the star of the Heat, a big defensive center that had a nose for the ball and a strong frame that allowed him to muscle his way to the basket.
The combination of Miami and Mourning was a match made in heaven.
Miami and Alonzo looked even more intimidating in red. The fiery play style of Mourning, and the natural redness of the team name definitely looked like a championship caliber team.
Designs like these are always welcome in any era. Fans will certainly not mind if the Heat wore this for an entire season. Simply put, this jersey is straight fire.
13 Forgotten For A Reason – Chicago Bulls (2013 Christmas Jersey)
Each year the NBA celebrates the festivities of Christmas. A new look is always in line for the teams participating on the birth of Christ. Year after year, fans have a split decision on their opinions on the alternate jerseys.
Back in 2013, the league tried something new; sleeved jerseys with nothing but the team design on the front of the jersey.
The Chicago Bulls got arguably the least aesthetically pleasing one. The all-red uniform looked like a tacky attempt of promoting Christmas, and not to mention, the picture of the bull in the middle made it look a bit too childish.
Luckily for the city of Chicago, the Bulls have one of the best uniform lines today.
12 Great Jersey – Philadelphia 76ers (1990s Red)
Almost a decade removed from the championship contending team led by young Charles Barkley, Julius Erving, and Moses Malone, the Philadelphia 76ers found a fresh beginning in Allen Iverson. Iverson captured the hearts of the notoriously stubborn Philadelphia crowd. In AI’s rookie year, he averaged over 23 points and 7 assists per game. He also did it rocking these red, velvety smooth jerseys.
Much like the Suns '80s jersey, this 76ers throwback’s simplicity was gorgeous. The word “SIXERS” across the uniform and the bright red color is nothing short of iconic. The stripes at both sides of the jersey did not take anything away from the main appeal of the jersey; in fact, it complimented it perfectly.
It has been over two decades since Iverson’s rookie year, but this is where #TheProcess began for the storied 76ers franchise.
11 Forgotten For A Reason – Cleveland Cavaliers (2016 Sleeved)
Back in 2016, the Cleveland Cavaliers did the unthinkable; they overcame the 73-9 Golden State Warriors to win the first championship in Cavs history and the first championship in Cleveland for over five decades. Of course, the sight of LeBron James crying while embracing teammate Kevin Love will forever be etched in the minds of every basketball fans across the globe.
Unfortunately, the moment was minimally stained by the jerseys. The sleeved jerseys had the same issues that the 2013 Christmas jerseys had. The big “C” in the middle felt like a lazy attempt to promote the team.
This jersey probably gained most attention when LeBron ripped the sleeves during the 2016 Finals. If The King does not approve, then we shouldn't as well.
10 Great Jersey – Vancouver Grizzlies (Late 1990s And Early 2000s Blue)
During the late '90s and early '00s, the Vancouver Grizzlies was one of the newest franchises in the NBA. They started during 1995 and they were quite forgettable and rightfully so as they were still finding their footing with un-experienced players.
Back then the Grizzlies was an afterthought but they had a great looking jersey. The shade of the color blue was unique in a good way and the word “GRIZZLIES” was designed that it seems like it shouted “we are here and we are ready.” (plot twist, they weren’t).
Even though the Grizzlies changed their design when they moved to Memphis, you cannot deny that Vancouver had the better jersey. Certainly a throwback to the Vancouver heritage of the Grizzlies should provide the same kind of love these received back in the days.
9 Forgotten For A Reason – Charlotte Bobcats (Early 2010s “CATS” jersey)
Before Kemba Walker was regarded as one of the best point guard in the league, the Charlotte fans had to endure not only the name “Bobcats” but also the mess they wore. Not only did Bobcats sound wrong as a name, but the word “CATS” across a jersey also looks outright wrong.
These jerseys would have been fine if the Bobcats were good, but the fact that they were not made it even worse.
Better days have passed for the Charlotte faithful as the team changed its name back to the original Hornets and the team has improved dramatically, but in their darkest time, they watched ugly basketball paired with this unique uniform.
8 Great Jersey – Detroit Pistons (Late 90s Red)
Back in the 1980s, the Detroit Pistons were notorious for being the most physical team in the league. In fact, they were dubbed the “Bad Boys,” as their physicality was borderline dirty at times.
Wanting to escape the reputation Isiah Thomas and crew built, the Pistons completely re-branded. They introduced new jerseys, new color, and a new franchise player in Grant Hill back in the mid to late '90s.
With the re-brand came this red alternate jersey. The design with slick as the engine part is seen with the letter ‘S’ and the horsepower of an actual piston is seen with the logo. While fans have mixed feelings with the Pistons’ old logo, this jersey certainly is one of the better ones, as the red looks better than the white and blue counterparts.
7 Forgotten For A Reason – Sacramento Kings (2013 Black And Blue)
Back in 2013, the Sacramento Kings had a throwback jersey for the '90s. It resulted in this half black half blue jersey with what looks like a checker board on the side.
The two dark colors battling it out is bad enough but the checkered side makes it look worse.
This jersey might have worked in the '90s, but it did not age well as it looked out of place five years ago. If the Kings want to make this work they should have removed the checkered sides and settled for one color as opposed to two.
Luckily for Kings’ fans, the newer jerseys look better each passing year.
6 Great Jersey – New Jersey Nets (1970s White)
In 1976, the New Jersey Nets moved to the NBA from their original home, the ABA. With the move came the original jersey design that made them one of the best franchises in the ABA’s short history. The white, red, and blue color scheme was iconic because it is the same color pattern of the American flag and the Nets did the colors justice with this jersey.
Not only did the colors complement one another well, but the design was simple enough that it made an impact to whoever saw it. The stars on one side of the jersey, the red and blue stripes shooting down, and a simple “NETS” across the front, everything about this uniform is simply magnificent.
It helps a lot that Julius Erving, the face of the ABA, wore this uniform, which is certainly a plus when looking back at previous jerseys.
5 Forgotten For A Reason – Dallas Mavericks (2001 Metallic Look)
In a road game against the Los Angeles Lakers back in 2001, the Dallas Mavericks showed off this futuristic-inspired jersey. What can only be described as metallic, the jersey looked like it came a thousand years too early.
We cannot fault Mark Cuban for the concept as the turn of the century only happened a year prior. But the design was so poorly received Cuban had to pull them out only after a game.
Will this work in modern times? Probably not but if you add in a new style and blend in different colors then maybe, just maybe, it will look better than the first iteration.
4 Great Jersey – New York Knicks (1990s Blue)
The New York Knicks are one of the most storied franchises in NBA history. With such prestige following them, the Knicks have never really changed much of their look. But during the '90s, the Knicks added a small feature that made their jerseys look cleaner; the addition of the black trim completed the already iconic look and the Knicks never looked back.
While people won’t forget the jersey, the addition of something small might have been crossed off the minds of fans.
Certainly one of the most recognizable jerseys, it has embodied the city of New York. The uniform is bold, simple, yet iconic much like New York.
3 Forgotten For A Reason – Detroit Pistons (2005 White)
Most fans today probably have never seen this jersey and boy, do we envy them. The uniform itself is quite decent but the addition of the forked lightning is not the best choice, in fact, if you remove the lightning this jersey might make it on the other end of this list.
The lightning actually has a story. Back in 1978, Dick Vitale was hired as the new head coach of the Pistons; he promised he would re-Vitalize (get it?) the team and so the lightning was born and it creeped its way into the mid 2000 jersey of the team.
Detroit is lucky that the team has improved drastically in the stylistic department or else we might see more of these in the future.
2 Great Jersey – New Orleans Hornets (2011 Purple)
Purple, green, and gold were the colors of this jersey and quite frankly it is hard to imagine three strong colors meshing together. But somehow, the New Orleans Hornets made it work. The design was made perfectly as the three colors worked harmoniously despite the skepticism of some fans.
Design-wise, we cannot get enough of this jersey. The word “NOLA” across the chest and the font used was a great representation of the Big Easy. The colors green and gold complementing one another on the trim of the jersey is the perfect complement to the bold color purple of the uniform.
If the newer Pelicans decide to rock this jersey, it will surely be a welcome addition to the great uniforms we have today.
1 Forgotten For A Reason – Delaware 87ers (2018 Nickelodeon Night)
Remember when we said that the NBA commemorates special events and occasions? Well, they also gave their nod in celebrating Nickelodeon night on January 2018. Of course, this jersey was only worn once in the G-League but technically it still falls under the NBA.
Inspired by Spongebob Squarepants, one of the most recognizable cartoon characters in history, the jersey turned a little too childish. The polka dotted yellow top and the pants designed short was intentionally done, but it made the players look like they were entering a Halloween party, as opposed to a basketball game.
Emeka Okafor was the most recognizable player for the 87ers at the time and the fans certainly would not want to see him wear something like this ever again.