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A Look at The NBA's Christmas Day Uniforms

Greetings, and happy Boxing Day! The NBA’s Christmas present to America was certainly better this year than in 2013 or ’12, but it was nonetheless a mixed bag. I’m not opposed to using first names as NOBs per se, and I’m not opposed to drop-down NOBs either (although both are obviously just “Because we can” gimmicks in this case), but those contrast-colored nameplates looked very high school, no? And as you can see in the photo above, the ’plates ran the full horizontal width of the jersey, even if the player’s name was only three or four letters long. Not an ideal look.

Still, some teams looked better than others. Let’s go one game at a time:

Cavs (gold) vs. Heat (red): This game was color vs. color. ”¦ Heat from the front: Very nice. They seemed to have the best ratio of logo size to numeral size. ”¦ Heat from the back: Not so good. The nameplate looks extra-amateurish when it’s just black type of a white background. ”¦ Cavs from the front: Okay, I guess, but the logo and numbers both seemed to get swallowed up by gold background. ”¦ Cavs from the back: Not bad (and as you can see, the used a small cap for LeBron James’s “e”). ”¦ Does Cavs swingman Mike Miller keep rolling up his waistband, even on Christmas? Yup. ”¦ Here’s something you don’t often see: Shawn and Shawne NOBs on the court together. Also: The tag showing out the back of Miller’s waistband is embarrassing. Just rip that thing off, won’t you please? Also-also: Six players in that photo, with five of them wearing black tights.

Wizards (red) vs. Knicks (white): Knicks from the front: I love that logo, but it doesn’t work when it’s that small. ”¦ Knicks from the back: Good contrast between the orange number and the blue ’plate — I like. ”¦ Wizards from the front: The Wiz uni felt distinct from everyone else’s yesterday, because they stuck with their stripe pattern. So even though they were going with the same logo/number format as everyone else, the overall effect was more like a standard alternate uni, not a “special event” uni. I like this a lot and could easily see them adopting it as an official alternate design. ”¦ Wizards from the back: Don’t like the combination of the navy panel above the number and the nameplate below.

Thunder (blue) vs. Spurs (black): Another color-vs.-color game. ”¦ Thunder from the front: Never been fond of that logo, but it doesn’t look terrible in this design format. ”¦ Thunder from the back: Outlining the letters in orange would have helped. ”¦ Spurs from the front: Similar to their gray alternate. ”¦ Spurs from the back: As I mentioned earlier, black lettering on a white ’plate looks too plain.

Bulls (red) vs. Lakers (white): Lakers from the front: Gotta say I like this — a lot. If they have to have a white uniform, I’d rather see this than their current Sunday white design. ”¦ Lakers from the back: Look how much better these NOBs can look if the letters are outlined! The whole thing pops so much more, has so much more pizzazz. Too bad the other teams didn’t do this. ”¦ Bulls from the front: Not awful, although the red bull’s head kinda blends in too much with the red background. ”¦ Bulls from the back: Good contrast between the black numbers and red lettering.

Clippers (red) vs. Warriors (white): Clippers from the front: I’ve never liked this logo, and I’m not going to start now. ”¦ Clippers from the back: No contrast between numbers and letters + no outlining on the letters = snoozers. ”¦ Warriors from the front: Logo needed to be bigger. … Warriors from the back: Some outlining, on either the numbers or the letters, would have helped. ”¦ DeAndre Jordan got a small cap for the second letter of his NOB, just like LeBron did.

All in all, an interesting experiment. Maybe next year they’ll try something radical and just let the teams wear their regular uniforms.

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PermaRec update: The latest entry on Permanent Record focuses on a Manhattan Trade School student who had a bit of a dental drama unfolding on her report card. Get the full story here.

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’Skins Watch: I used to like David Letterman a lot — you know, a few decades ago, when he was still funny. But the dude’s been running on autopilot for ages and is way overdue for the glue factory. Latest evidence of this: He’s just now getting in on the “redskin potato” joke. Only about two years too late, Dave (from Clint Wrede).

College Football News: Here’s UNC’s costume for today’s bowl game. ”¦ Decent article on what Oregon players wear off the field. ”¦ The Adidas logo on Rice jerseys is normally white, but it was grey for a few players in Wednesday’s bowl game (from Jerry Lawless).

Hockey News: Nik Hjalmarsson of the Blackhawks wears clear plastic protectors over his skates. “I’ve never seen or noticed these before, but he does block an inordinate amount of shots, so maybe it’s to keep from breaking his feet,” says Tim E. O’Brien. ”¦ Good article about how the Capitals’ equipment manager is preparing for the upcoming Winter Classic (from David Goodfriend). … Lord of the Rings jerseys for the Bakersfield Condors (thanks, Phil). … A Saskatchewan teen-ageer has won tickets to the World Junior Hockey Championships by designing Team Canada’s helmets.

NBA News: In addition to yesterday’s special unis, there were also lots of Christmas-themed sneakers (thanks, Brinke). ”¦ Jeremy Lin gave his teammates a bunch of personalized headphones for Christmas. ”¦ If you think ugly sweaters are bad, check out the suit that Clippers C Spencer Hawes wore to the arena last night.

College Hoops News: Campbell University — home of the Fighting Camels! — has new uniforms, which were worn the other day as part of a very bold color-vs.-color game against UNC-Wilmington (from proud Campbell student Coley Thompkins). … SMU guard Keith Frazier tapes the shoulder straps on his jersey. I’ve asked the school what’s up with that — will advise (from Drew Arnson). ”¦ A photo that Under Armour is using for displays at sporting goods stores shows two players — one of whom is doing the waistband-roll thing (from Josh Nosalik).

Grab Bag: President Obama broke his self-imposed rule against donning headwear when he wore a Girl Scout tiara for a recent photo op. … Check it out: a gingerbread version of Fenway Park (thanks, Brinke). … Whoa, look at the crazy uniforms that will be worn by volunteers at next year’s ICC Cricket World Cup.

27 comments to A Look at The NBA’s Christmas Day Uniforms

  • Kemp Honeycutt | December 26, 2014 at 8:53 am |

    I find it amusing that David Letterman is criticized for being about two years too late regarding the “redskin potato” joke. As a lifelong Redskins fan I can tell you that joke is at least 30 or 40 years old. So who’s late now?

  • ken | December 26, 2014 at 8:54 am |

    The flyers have been doing contrasting name plates for a few years ~ ever since the throwbacks. Also the clear plastic skate covers have been around for a couple of years. They have been called Skate Fenders ( $80 @ hockey monkey.com) and shot blocker {Chara of the Boston bruins uses them} shot blocker website

    • Paul Lukas | December 26, 2014 at 9:11 am |

      Yeah, but the contrasting ’plate looks a lot better across the shoulders, where it forms a natural boundary marking the top of the jersey, than it does across the mid-lower back.

      • walter | December 26, 2014 at 9:44 am |

        The NBA teams should have tinkered with alternate color pairings for their nameplates rather than simply sticking the home/away color scheme on the opposite jersey. Such as: A blue plate with red+white letters on yesterday’s Clippers’ uniforms. Also, I thought the Heat insignia succumbed to the same lack of contrast the Bulls’ logo had. A white keyline would have helped.
        Since the NBA has established a new tradition of special uniforms for the holiday, the thing that would impress me most would be well-detailed throwbacks, hopefully having both teams represent the same year.

      • ken | December 26, 2014 at 1:10 pm |

        I have felt that player names should be below the number, espically in woman’s hockey since the hair covers the ‘plate

        • Mike Engle on iPad | December 26, 2014 at 8:11 pm |

          Funny you should say that. The WNBA employs sub-NOB’s so that if a player attaches a married name, it’s easier to get them both on, with a two-line NOB.
          As for contrasting nameplates, I hate them. Period. The Flyers can keep theirs because they did it first, but it was never an intentional design element. It was a quick slap-on job at the request of broadcast television, and the Flyers ripped the white plates off and put them on the road oranges. So when the Flyers do it, it’s a nod to heritage, but when anybody else does it, it’s trying too hard. (The Habs barber poles get a necessity waiver.)

  • Kevin W | December 26, 2014 at 9:37 am |

    Yeah, some of the NBA nameplates just like bad – I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but the ones that were just black and white and team colors were especially bad. I thought the Cavs looked good – but it would be hard to get that wrong as they only use one color. The Knicks were okay too – I like when the nameplate is the secondary color and the name is the jersey background.

    Using that rule the Spurs should have had silver nameplates which I think would have been less jarring.

    A lot better than last year though!

  • Big CK | December 26, 2014 at 9:50 am |

    In the Clippers vs Warriors review, you wrote “Clippers from the back” a second time when you meant “Warriors from the back”.

    • Paul Lukas | December 26, 2014 at 10:03 am |

      Thanks — now fixed.

  • walter | December 26, 2014 at 9:59 am |

    I used to like David Letterman a lot – you know, a few decades ago, when he was still funny. But the dude’s been running on autopilot for ages and is way overdue for the glue factory.

    Don’t hate- Congratulate! I used to think it was funny to throw (metaphorical) red paint and smash things, telling everybody they suck. But having driven past this neighborhood again and again, I think more could be accomplished by offering an improved scenario. You do have a soapbox. Put your mind to it; God knows I have. What is Paul Lukas’s fix for the Washington Redskins, calculated to put a smile on the largest number of people? Forgive me for thinking I have a right to know, but being a regular visitor, I’ve learned the sermons so well I can move my lips right along with you.

  • Jim Mason | December 26, 2014 at 10:05 am |

    Maybe this has been covered here before, but I thought those tights had been banned a few years ago by David Stern, but they’re obviously back. Am I wrong about the ban?

    • Paul Lukas | December 26, 2014 at 10:33 am |

      They were not banned per se — you just had to have a doctor’s note. Apparently everybody got one, and/or the league gave up trying to enforce the rule.

      I don’t think this is a style thing — I think the players feel more comfortable with the tights.

      • Jim Mason | December 26, 2014 at 10:57 am |

        Thanks. That’s been bugging me.

      • Jim Vilk | December 26, 2014 at 3:50 pm |

        I believe Gordon Hayward of the Jazz wears them because it helps prevent skinned knees. Others have mentioned better circulation and warmer legs as their reasons.

        At least (for now) they’re plain. Keep them that way and I don’t have a problem.

      • John Z. | December 26, 2014 at 4:59 pm |

        Also I believe it was the solid one-piece compression tights that go from waist to ankles that were specifically banned, but three-quarter compression going to the top of the shin combined with leg sleeves or high socks (or all of the above) still can sneak under the radar as being legal.

      • John Z. | December 26, 2014 at 5:10 pm |

        Though you’re right, not “banned”, only frowned upon. But maybe they changed their minds, it does provide much more real estate for advertising patches!

  • Flip | December 26, 2014 at 10:20 am |

    Spurs in argyle socks? Now that’s Christmas. BTW: Totally enjoy your Permanent Record. Why do I sense a long-term book project?

  • J | December 26, 2014 at 10:29 am |

    The skate protectors have been around for a few years. I remember a few announcers pointing them out during games before. I believe it is still a minority of players who wear them.

  • Steve D | December 26, 2014 at 10:37 am |

    The Knicks had a great uniform when they won their championships and through most of the 1970s. Their current set is supposed to remind us of those, but are downgraded in many ways:

    1) Wordmark not as arched and font too stubby.
    2) Numbers were distinct and bold, now thin and ordinary
    3) Belt stripe now solid blue
    4) Side stripes gone from shorts
    5) Beautiful arched NOBs long gone.

    These tweaks have turned a classic into an ugly mess IMO. The currentalternate logo is also a newer version of an early example of a secondary logo the Knicks once used. It also looks like a downgrade to me…very sterilized and clunky.

    • Steve D | December 26, 2014 at 10:41 am |

      Here is the original alternate logo…didn’t see many alternate logos in the 60s and 70s:

      http://content.sportslogos.net/logos/6/216/full/6034.gif

    • walter | December 26, 2014 at 10:44 am |

      It’s depressing what the Knicks have done to their uniforms; all the more since you can tell they had the originals in mind, and to their way of thinking, “improved” them.

  • James Craven | December 26, 2014 at 1:55 pm |

    Louisiana Tech wearing their 1960’s/1980’s Patriots-inspired unis in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, while the Illini are in white-white-orange.

  • Ben Hoskins | December 26, 2014 at 3:59 pm |

    Anyone notice that The Nike Ducks CFB Playoff shirts have the US Flag hung backwards? The ‘Blue’ field is always supposed to be top left corner no matter if hung vertically or horizontally. Nike no doubt has some BS answer likely the “O” is over the player’s heart. Contrivance over uniformity I guess.

    • Komet17 | December 26, 2014 at 4:15 pm |

      OK, but it’s not a US flag–it’s an “Oregon” flag, so the US Flag Code doesn’t apply…

  • Clint W | December 26, 2014 at 5:37 pm |

    I think Letterman is still quite funny, but this bit was definitely not one of his show’s better efforts.

    • John H. | December 29, 2014 at 6:44 pm |

      Agreed. Letterman has never stopped being funny or razor sharp. He’s the best at what he does and no one else comes close. It’ll be a sad day in May when he calls it quits.

  • DYCSoccer17 | December 26, 2014 at 5:48 pm |

    The skate guards have been around for at least 5 years now. Here’s an article from 4.5 years ago:

    http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/2010/05/24/habs_defenceman_gorges_dumps_skate_guards.html