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NBA Uni Tracking: Crunching the Final Numbers

[Editor’s Note: Collin Wright has been tracking the NBA’s uniform matchups throughout the 2017-18 season. With the regular season now over, here’s his final report. Enjoy. — PL]

By Collin Wright

When the NBA announced that home teams would be free to wear whichever uniforms they chose this season, we wondered how that would play out. After crunching the final numbers here are the results: 43% of all games had the home team in white and road in color; 32% had the home team in color and road in white; and 25% were color vs. color.

Here our final week-by-week chart, complete through the end of the season (click to enlarge):

Some interesting notes and numbers of note to wrap up the season:

• Here’s a look at how frequently each uniform “edition” was worn at home, on the road, and overall:

• Similarly, here’s a look at the frequency of each uniform color at home, on the road, and overall:

• White vs. blue was the most common matchup throughout the season, occurring 373 times, and red vs. blue was the most common color-vs.-color matchup, occurring 65 times. Here’s a chart showing all color matchups — the two colors in each bar represent the color pairing (click to enlarge):

• The Lakers had the most color-vs.-color games — 35 (but 12 of those were when they wore gold at home, so those same matchups would have occurred under the old uniform system). Close behind were the Rockets, who had 34 color-vs.-color games, and the most color-vs-color wins (28). Here’s a chart showing the relative frequency of color-vs.-color games for all teams (click to enlarge):

• The Knicks had the fewest color-vs.-color games (five) and did not win any of them.

• The Nets, Bulls, and Rockets did not wear their primary white uniform at home at any point during the season (although the Bulls did wear their white fauxback “City” design at home five times).

• The 76ers were 8-0 in their light cream-colored uniform and the Rockets were 4-0 in their “City” design. Those are the only designs that were undefeated during the season. The Timberwolves (green) and Raptors (“North”) each had a uniform with only one loss.

• The Grizzlies were 1-13 in their light blue uniform, “earning” it the title of the season’s least successful uniform. The Suns were 1-11 in their throwback set, the second-least successful design.

• Seven games featured both teams wearing blue, and two games featured both teams wearing grey.

• Neither Denver nor Phoenix ever broke from the unitard look — their leggings and socks always matched the base uniform color.

• At the other end of the spectrum, the Pelicans were the most likely to wear contrasting elements. They were mismatched in 76% of all games, including their final 58 games. The last time they went full-unitard was December 4th.

• And here’s how matching and mismatching accessories varied by uniform “edition” (click to enlarge):

• Finally, here’s the breakdown of uniform frequency for each team in the league.

That’s it for 2017-18. Thanks for the chance to share this information with you during this season — it’s certainly appealed to the more meticulous side of my personality.

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War paint on the mound: The Twins were getting blown out last night at Yankee Stadium, so they brought in a position player — center fielder Ryan LaMarre — to get the last two outs in the bottom of the eighth, thereby creating the rarely seen spectacle of a pitcher wearing eye black (see above).

That got me thinking about what is probably the most famous instance of an eye black-clad pitcher: Game Four of the 1990 ALCS, when Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens wore eye black (and was ejected for barking at umpire Terry Cooney in the second inning). I found some video from the game and discovered something interesting: Clemens wasn’t wearing eye black while warming up before the game:

But just as I had remembered, he did indeed have eye black during the game:

(My thanks to @ajs0889 for letting me know about LaMarre being on the mound last night.)

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rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

Another raffle: Last week our friends at Ebbets Field Flannels raffled off a New York Knights T-shirt to a lucky Uni Watch reader. This week they’re raffling off one of these awesome Santurce Cangrejeros T-shirts.

To enter, send an email with your preferred T-shirt size and your shipping address to the raffle address by 7pm Eastern this Sunday, April 29. I’ll announce the winner next Monday.

Also, if you scroll down to the bottom of any Ebbets web page (including that one with the Santurce Cangrejeros shirt), there’s a link where you can get on their email list. Feel free to sign up if you like.

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Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

Found this set of Cleveland Browns media guides from the 1970s. Pretty plain and nondescript, using the same helmet art every year, until the end of the decade. But the 1979 edition immediately caught my eye as an old Cowboys fan from back then: I would swear the Browns used a 1975 photo of Cowboys lineman Blaine Nye and running back Robert Newhouse for that shot. (Here is a close-up.) I recognized their helmets right away. You can see the resemblance in this photo from later in the play. Am I right?

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• Sportbilt of Somerville, Mass., was the maker of this 1970s-1980s team-issued New England Patriots gear bag.

• These 1970s Minnesota Vikings stadium seat cushions were brought to you by “Panasonic, The Winning Team.”

• One more for the Vikes: this 1970s Faultless golf ball with single-bar Vikings helmet and the NFL shield.

• This 1970s Pirates beer mug featuring their classic pirate logo has been in storage for the last 20 years.

• This pair of Phillies drinking glasses has been around even longer — the seller says “1950s” for this set.

• This 1970s Denver Broncos mug was sponsored by Sonic and Dr. Pepper.

• One more for the Broncos: this 1970s “reflector protector” for your bicycle.

• The eBay seller notes that this 1970s custom-made Steelers rug was “commissioned by a fan” and is “one of a kind.”

• I’ve never seen a 1970s Chargers helmet buggy with the navy blue helmet, until this one! No yellow facemask, but looks to be in perfect shape (although it looks like they put the bolts on the wrong way, no?).

• Niners fans! Get cleaned up with this 1970s “Soap & Wash Set.”

• The seller for this Celtics jacket says it was game-worn from the 1960s, and fits more like a sweater. Did they have the NBA patch on jackets back then?

Seen an item on eBay that would be good for Collector’s Corner? Send any submissions here.

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KRC update: The latest installment of Key Ring Chronicles is a really good one — it’s about a beer can tab. Check it out here.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball News: Twins P Jake Odorizzi paid tribute for his former teammate, White Sox P Danny Farquhar, by writing “FARQ” on his cap last night. Farquhar remains in critical condition after suffering an aneurysm rupture during a game this weekend (from Chris Hanel). … Seattle also paid tribute to Farquhar by hanging his Mariners jersey in the dugout last night as  they played the White Sox. Farquhar played for the Mariners from 2013 to 2015 (from Mike Chamernik). … This Memorial Day, Lids and New Era invite you to celebrate monarchy. Of course, hundreds of thousands of US servicemen and -women have given their lives to uphold democratic values and fight tyranny, but “We Salute Our Kings” seems like a particularly bad holiday slogan for a country whose founding was based on opposing the concept of royalty (from Casey Hart and  @DapLajoie). … In an effort to combat sign stealing, Rockies catchers have been wearing quarterback-style wristbands that contain an elaborate code (from Mike Chamernik). … The Astros will give away a purple-and-gold Alex Bregman jersey at this weekend’s Bayou Bash Street Festival. Bregman played college ball at LSU (from Ignacio). … Baltimore Magazine has a feature about the hot dog race videos the Orioles play at Camden Yards (from Andrew Cosentino). … Brian Hertz was re-watching a 1999 Dodgers game and found a sign that would probably fit better in Nationals Park. … The Durham Bulls will wear jerseys designed by a local clothing company on May 31 (Paul Beardsley and @GoatJerseys). … New road pullovers for the Kannapolis Intimidators, a Single-A White Sox affiliate (from Sean Jankowski).

NFL NewsPlaying into the whole pirate thing, the Bucs will have a parrot deliver their third round draft pick to an announcer at the pirate ship inside Raymond James Stadium later this week. … This 1979 TV Guide cover has a great example of infinite regression on a football helmet (from Ray Hund).

College Football NewsAlabama posted a video yesterday that includes a look at the team’s national championship rings (from Hayden Kay). … It’s always been rumored that birds flock to Boise State’s blue turf because they think it’s a lake. Now, we have photographic evidence (from Mike Chamernik). … Many HBCU fans cheered when Russell Athletic decided to stop making uniforms. But that now means more expenses for already taxed athletic departments (from Steven J. Gaither‏ ). …  IMackulate Vision Gaming has announced it will be releasing an college football video game — the first since EA Sports killed NCAA Football amid a lawsuit scare — in 2020. The game will come pre-loaded fictional teams, though players would be able to create up to 126 teams filled with custom-made players — meaning players could conceivably create, share and download most of the NCAA.

NBA NewsReggie Bullock of the Detroit Pistons says he’d like to see NBA teams wear rainbow jerseys in support of the LGBT community (from Mike Chamernik). … Ohio State will use one of these four court designs beginning next season (from KT).

Soccer NewsOur own Jamie Rathjen has an update from yesterday’s lede: D.C. United wore their Earth Day kits on Friday in scrimmages against Maryland and the USL Richmond Kickers, since they didn’t play this weekend. … Tons of stuff today from Josh Hinton: Manchester City has clinched the Premier League championship, and will wear these jerseys for pre-match workouts for the remainder of the season. The shirts include the word “CHAMPIONS” above the team’s crest. … Qatar Airlines has agreed to buy advertising on AS Roma’s jerseys. It’s a disappointing development, as Roma was one of the few remaining European clubs to regularly go ad-free (also from Ed Zelaski). … Club America of Liga MX has that new kits pay homage to Mexico. … Olympique Marseille’s home kits for 2018-19 have leaked (also from Ed Zelaski). … Finally, clubs often add stars to their jerseys to commemorate championships, but Louisville City FC supporters did them one better. They bought the club an actual star to commemorate Louisville’s 2017 USL title. Thanks Josh! … We may have had this before, but Arsenal’s 2018-19 home kit has leaked (from Megan Brown). … Remi Walter of France scored a goal for OGC Nice earlier this year — with the retail tag still attached to this jersey (from Hue).

Grab BagThe Chicago Tribune has a good one-on-one with Tom O’Grady, a sports design expert (fom Phil and @GameplanChicago). … The Worcester Railers, a minor league hockey team in the ECHL have turned the faceoff dots in their arena into Pepsi ads (from Stan Cupp). … New chrome helmets for Syracuse lacrosse (from @PhillyPartTwo).

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A quick final thought: My latest ESPN column, about the new Defender catcher’s mask and its interesting implications for the realm of equipment endorsements, was published fairly late in the day on Friday, so you may have missed it. I’ve gotten a lot of very positive feedback on this one — I think you’ll like. If you haven’t already read it, check it out here.

Comments (35)

    Great research on the NBA uniform matchups. I may have asked this before, but is there data on color corrected for amount of teams that have a certain color? That is, for example, in baseball there are loads of navy or royal blue teams. So is there a data set that is adjusted for that? Looks like royal blue is the most commonly worn color by a significant margin, is that because there are more royal blue teams, or because teams the are royal blue wore their color jersey more frequently than others?

    “It’s always been rumored that birds flock to Boise State’s blue turf….”

    Two birds equals a flock???!! Who knew?

    “Roma was one of the few remaining European clubs to regularly go ad-free”

    Just to clarify, it’s not that they’ve never worn ads before, but they stopped doing so, believe it or not, for the past few years.

    It’s a little disingenuous to say the teams “would be free to wear whichever uniforms they chose”, since we know now that the NBA had selected the uniforms in advance. Still, the work you did this season is phenomenal.
    “We Salute Our Kings” might be the most tone-deaf ad campaign since Kendall Jenner solved racism with a Pepsi. Ugh.

    Good stuff on the Force3. Be interesting to see what, if any, type of push-back will come from the big manufacturers.

    Instead of a push back I suspect the big equipment manufacturers may simply make a significant seven figure offer to but the rights to the product. The designer may never have to work another day in his life if he plays his cards right.

    The Pacers have only worn their gold jerseys during the playoffs… I hope they wash them or at least let them soak in some Woolite.

    Random thought while seeing Paul’s key ring picture today. I too have found out that I have a little quirky thing I like and never really shared with anyone.

    I really like WAX paper bags that you get at a bakery or other places. There’s just something about a wax bag (I know this is a little out there) and the texture just makes me feel like whatever is inside it is going to be delicious. The other day my daughter got pretzels at the mall (I think Auntie Anne’s) and it came in this AWESOME blue wax bag with a their giant pretzel logo.

    Is there a particular reason that HBCU fans wanted Russel to go? Or do they just not make good uniforms

    What i found interesting was that the conference negotiated with a supplier as a whole, which is something you see commonly in American professional sports but not much elsewhere. My guess is the students wanted a UA or Nike Logo on the jerseys because they perceive those brand to be cooler/better. Also Russell jerseys designs seemed boring or outdated.

    Paul, I’m sure this has been mentioned before, but multiple jets players have been using the #newjetsunis on Twitter for a while now, led by linebacker Darron Lee. Jamal Adams has posted mocked-up photos of himself with the same #. Any idea as to whether or not they are really getting new uniforms or is it just a campaign by Darron Lee to get new uniforms?

    Just curious if there is a way to see what games features blue vs. blue? Obviously they’d have to be different shades but I’m just curious as to which teams those were?

    Not sure NBA-wise, but the Premier League (Man City home, Newcastle away, and Burnley away) has a ton!

    Light blue above. Light blue usually plays vs dark or standard blue, which is, off the top of my head, Chelsea home, Spurs away, Everton home, Leicester home, and Crystal Palace/Brighton/Huddersfield have half and half

    I feel like the “We Salute Our Kings” would go over much better if they had emphasized the “OUR.” Kinda like “We base it on merit, not heredity type thing.

    Still bad, but better.

    Yeah, no. The problem with monarchy isn’t how the monarch is chosen. (“Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony. You can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just ’cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!” link) It’s in the existence of a governing executive who is not accountable to the people by way of subsequent election. Plus, many monarchs throughout history have been elected one way or another, including in practice the Hanoverian monarchs of Britain whom the American revolutionaries overthrew. Once selected, by whatever means, the monarch serves for life without ever again having to seek the consent of the people to rule. That last bit is the problem with monarchy, not whether any particular monarch is “ours” or “theirs.”

    I suspect the “Our Kings” thing is a commercial appropriation of a form of African-American discourse that’s recently been sort of mainstreamed by responses to “Black Panther.” But there’s no way to make it anything other than distasteful in this context. Then again, the now-ubiquitous use of “warriors” to speak of people we used to call “soldiers” would also have been almost unspeakably offensive to Americans of the not-so-distant past.

    Great points.

    There’s another catch here too: sovereignty. The independent animating authority of a country is it’s sovereignty. It is the font from which all rights, laws, and rules flow from. In a traditional monarchy, that font is the ruler, personally. The King is THE sovereign. Here in the United States our Constitution specifically derives its authority, its sovereignty, from “We the People.” Not any one man or woman but the whole of the public, all the people. The supreme source of all laws and justice rests in the totality of the people. Their wishes, their aspirations NOT one person.

    I also really dislike the use of “warriors” over “soldiers.” A warrior is dedicated to fighting. A soldier does a job and then goes home to rejoin his or her fellow Americans.

    Paul – Is there an MLB cleat color rule anymore? Seems like lots of freedom to wear different team colors, gray, or white. Saw a Red Sox-Orioles game a few weeks ago with solid white cleats vs. solid orange cleats.

    Not only is the notion of a King bad for a free country that prides itself on its volunteer citizen (and even non-citizen) armed forces but its also terrible to use the male term.

    Using “Kings” makes military service seem like an exclusively male vocation.

    It’s monarchist, it’s militarist, and it’s chauvinist.

    A trifecta of bad.

    Guess no one else agrees. Totally bizarre to have only 2 Cowboys pictured on the cover of a Browns media guide. Hoping someone can explain. There’s always an explanation, right? Here’s my guess. Same company makes Cowboys and Browns media guides in 1979 and …

    Browns switched to white facemasks in 1975.
    ’76 -’77 media guides used photos of helmet with a gray one, as did the one for the ’78 season:


    In the 1990 ALCS game Clemons started in Oakland, that game STARTED around 11:30 am local time (I was there). At that time of year, the sun is creeping over the third deck between first base and home unlike regular day games that start at 1 pm where the sun is higher in the sky

    Love that Cangrejeros t-shirt, and the other Santurce shirts shown at the bottom of the page. Question: Their 1954 road jersey has the same blue script & red number as the Dodgers. Is there a relation between the two teams?

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