Pulling on a team’s jersey should bring great pride for athletes, but over the years there have been some NBA jerseys that are so ugly, the players must have felt embarrassed to put them on. Much like fashion, some color and alternative styles can work to great effect, but there is a fine line between distinctive and ugly which many teams have struggled to find. Many teams do not take the risk and opt for a classic look; there is nothing wrong with this and many of these teams have had the better looking kits and logos in NBA history. There are a few teams that have been a little more experimental with their styles and colors over the years, and occasionally this has worked very well. This was most evident during the 90’s, where the kits and logos were often colourful, bold and cartoonish. Many people criticize this style, but I find that teams like the Charlotte Hornets, Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors had some of the better looking kits and logos in NBA history and have a huge retro appeal.
Nowadays the cartoonish element has disappeared from the logos and kits, bar the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics who have iconic logos which should never be changed. The cartoonish element may have disappeared, but there have still been a number of bizarre looking kits which utilize awful color combinations, strange lettering or just simply ugly designs. In addition, the NBA has introduced sleeved jerseys in recent times, which have turned many of the better looking kits in the league into awful designs. Not only are they ugly and look way too tight, but many of the players also find that they restrict their shooting motion (this could also be an excuse for a poor night from the floor).
These ugly kits, along with garish logos which overpower many NBA courts, are a part of the game and can be a source of entertainment, but you have to feel slightly sorry for the players that had to pull on these awful designs each time they stepped onto the court.
10 Los Angeles Clippers, 2011-12 road jersey
Not only have the Clippers had the worst owner of all time and one of the worst logos, but they have also had a number of awful kits too. The worst was their star spangled alternate uniform in 2012, which was baby blue with bold red lettering and white numbers. The clashing blue and red were not the worst part about this jersey however; it was the lettering which made it such an ugly design. It looked as if the designer had forgotten how to spell Los Angeles, as a couple of the letters are crammed in amongst the others to give the jersey a cramped look. The Clippers may have a new owner now, but they still have terrible jerseys and an awful logo. Surely it is time to rebrand?
9 Miami Heat, 2011-12 throwback jersey
In 2012 the Miami Heat paid tribute to the ABA’s Miami Floridians, but they surely could have done so in a better way than donning these awful jerseys. The kit has a white base with black letters and numbers, with terrible orange and pink vertical stripes on the left hand side. The numbers on the front are not quite centred, also creating an unbalanced feel with this jersey. Pink, orange and white is one of the more bizarre colour schemes that the NBA has seen, and also one which simply does not work.
8 San Antonio Spurs, 2013 military jersey
Supporting the troops is all well and good, but there must have been a better way for the Spurs to show their support than by wearing this shocking kit. San Antonio is a military town, and the team also functions like a well organized military unit, so it is not too much of a surprise that they have taken to wearing military inspired kits. The uniform has a green, olive and sand coloured camouflage which has a pixelated look, along with the Spurs logo placed awkwardly on the left hand side. The Toronto Raptors have also gone camo before, but we are used to seeing them churn out alternative designs whereas the Spurs have always opted for a simple, classic look.
7 Golden State Warriors, 2012-13 short-sleeve yellow jersey
When wearing regular jerseys, the Warriors have a great look with a well designed logo and an effective colour scheme of white, yellow and blue. Unfortunately they were the first team to wear sleeved jerseys, which is what has earned them a place on this list. None of the sleeved jerseys look good and could all feature on this list, but being the first team it makes Golden State the representative for these shocking designs. The jersey makes it look like players are wearing t-shirts which are three times too small, and the Warriors also made a faux pas by including yellow pinstriped shorts. Ouch.
6 New Orleans Hornets, 2012 NOLA Mardi Gras jersey
New Orleans is a franchise that has never been afraid of a little bit of color, but they failed miserably with these Mardi Gras inspired kits in 2012. The kits had a green, purple and yellow palette with NOLA in yellow across the front. In theory they could have made an attractive kit with this, but they instead opted for the front and back having different colours which was never going to impress anyone. A swing and a miss for the Hornets (current Pelicans), who have taken many chances with their kits over the years with mixed results.
5 Cleveland Cavaliers, 1970-1982 road jersey
Whenever fans watch the Cavs play they may find themselves hungry for McDonalds, as Cleveland has opted for the red and gold color scheme which is synonymous with the fast food chain. The Cavs have had a number of ugly kits in their time, but none more so than the jersey they wore from 1970-1982, which still makes the occasional appearance for some reason. The wine colored jersey has gold lettering and numbers, with mini stripes of red, white and gold lining the sides and round the neck. This is what Ronald McDonald would wear if he were playing basketball in an advert for McDonalds.
4 Detroit Pistons, 1995 – 2004 road jersey
Generally, the Detroit Pistons have kept their image inoffensive with a blue and red colour scheme and a simple logo, but for a long period of time they would wear a bizarre teal jersey which did them no favors. Many teams went down the teal path during the 90’s for some reason, but the Pistons jersey was the worst because of the poor font selection and strange logo. The slanted writing, which goes from big to small, looks like a simple Microsoft Word creation, while the flaming horse never really took off as a logo. The Pistons were trying to acknowledge their role as Motor City, but have fortunately played it safe ever since retiring this awful design.
3 Sacramento Kings, 2005-06 alternate road jersey
Wearing a shiny gold jersey is a very bold move, and if any team could pull it off, it would be the Sacramento Kings. Unfortunately even they were not regal enough to pull off this design, which looked a lot more like nightwear than an NBA jersey. The shiny gold jersey also featured purple numbers and lettering with a white border, and a purple and white stripe on the side. The Kings have always had one of the more distinctive styles in the NBA with purple being their key colour, but they took things a little too far with these shiny gold kits in 2005-06.
2 Denver Nuggets, 1983 - 1992 road jersey
The designer of this Nuggets uniform got a bit carried away it seems, as there is far too much going on to make this a good jersey. Blue and yellow are the primary colours, but there is also a rainbow coloured section in the middle, with white sections representing the mountains in Denver. In front of these mountains there are coloured blocks which are supposed to be the Denver skyline, but instead look much more like a game of Tetris. As if that wasn’t enough for one jersey, it also has Nuggets written across the stomach, finishing off what is a chaotic and ugly jersey.
1 Philadelphia 76ers, 1991-1994 home jersey
It must have been painful for the 76ers players to pull on these jerseys, and particularly because it was their home kit too. The tacky design features a white base colour with multi coloured stars in a blue section, which also contains the Sixers name in red. The design is mirrored on the shorts, creating an ugly, naff design from top to bottom. It is a unique design to say the least, but unfortunately it does not click and instead looks like it may have been designed by Pepsi. The 90’s was filled with bizarre jerseys, with this one being a prime example of the worst of them.