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Celtics Honor Bill Russell with New ‘City’ Uni Design

Most of the NBA’s new City alternate uniforms won’t be unveiled or worn until next month (although a bunch of them have leaked). One big exception is the Celtics’ new City design, which was officially revealed this morning.

The design is intended to be a tribute to the late Bill Russell (although it was already in the works, and even leaked, before his recent death). Among the design details:

  • The “Celtics” chest script is inspired by Slade’s Bar & Grill, a Boston establishment that was owned by Russell in the 1960s. You can get a semi-decent view of the Slade’s script here; if anyone has a photo providing a better view, I’d love to see it.
  • The 11 gold diamond icons down both sides of the uniform signify the number of NBA championships Russell won with the Celtics. The diamonds are positioned on black trim featuring a tone-on-tone version of the team’s parquet floor pattern
  • Russell’s No. 6 is featured on the waistband of the shorts, surrounded by 11 more tiny diamond shapes:

Lots of additional photos are available here.

Why did the Celtics unveil this uniform several weeks before the rest of the league’s City designs? Because they plan to wear it for their season opener tomorrow night, when they’ll be hosting the Sixers. They’ll wear it 10 additional times this season, for a total of 11 — again, the number of Russell’s championships.

For more info on this season’s new NBA uniforms, logos, court designs, and more, check out my just-published Uni Watch 2022 NBA Season Preview.

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Comments (51)

    There are a lot of positives in this design. Of course, the tribute to Russell is great & long overdue.
    Not using their traditional shade of green is a miss. The dark green with black is not enough contrast for me. Also looks like Bucks or 90s Sonics green not Celtic’s green?

    I like the gold, always liked those 2 or 3 Celtics alternate unis that used gold as a trim color, but the rest of this, I don’t know…

    Most of these “City” alternates are just dreck, but I really like this one. One of the sharper designs the NBA has come up…really nice.

    From a distance, this is a fantastic Bucks jersey.

    Everything but the shade of green is a win here.

    Great design and I love that shade of green but, as noted, it’s not the Celtics green so why use it? Maybe use their normal shade and use the darker green as the side panels?

    My first thought was that I really liked them, then my second thought was that they reminded me a lot of green link jerseys

    Looks like I messed up my tag in the link, should say green Washington Wizards jerseys.

    I love the gold diamonds down the side of the uniform. I wasn’t aware Russell had owned a bar in Boston, so the mimicked script is a nice touch. I also didn’t realize he was apparently a big investor in Vista Print.

    Ah yes. Of all the memories I have of Russell, the most endearing is his lifelong love of Vista Print.

    Well done all the way around. The green is a good choice-muted, somber, more in line with a remembrance.

    I’m in-line with what seems to be the majority on this one. I like everything about this uniform but the shade of green. Let’s be real as well, it would arguably be a more fitting tribute in the Celtics usual shade of green, bit in a “retail tail wagging the dog” moment doing so would probably hurt its sales since it would be too similar to a regular Celtics jersey. Perhaps I’m getting too cynical, but that’s what it seems like to me anyway.

    I wonder why diamonds and not shamrocks? 11 gold shamrocks down the side would have been perfectly in line with the Celtics brand.

    Totally agree with that. Shamrocks instead of diamonds. Diamonds are overused graphically in sports.

    It’s a good uniform.

    All/most redesigns and alternates exist largely as merchandise for young people, and that is the default explanation for anything that isn’t traditional, simple, etc. If that’s the case, why do so many go hard on the most OCD/spectrum/dork use of numbers (the new Nuggets Urban Collection jersey has two blue dashes on the inside of the neck trim, representing the One Mile marker on the second step up to Denver’s city hall!)?

    Maybe wear the Celtics uniform worn during BR era. Nah.
    Let’s say tribute but what we mean is put another retail item for sale and add black.
    Yes.

    One thing I love about the Celtics (and this isn’t something that I wish from every team, just a few in each league) is that if they attempted to drastically change the main uni sets, Red Auerbach would rise up out of his grave and dismantle the franchise bit by bit. So wearing a Russell era jersey wouldn’t look a whole lot different than their regular unis. Which begs the question for me as to why not find a different way to tribute him rather than come up with a whole different jersey that sort of memorializes him but in a way that also sort of ignores his actual history with the team.

    I don’t mean this a a backhanded “get off my lawn” but how about the team pays their uni advertiser back for the season and puts the “6” patch in that spot (which would also place it over the players’ hearts). Or gives that spot to a charity of the Russell estate’s choice. Or puts the 11 diamonds (or shamrocks) on the standard uni which is, essentially, the Russell era uni?

    The reason I don’t like the player number font — aside from it not being the traditional font — is that Russell’s No. 6 is in the correct font on this jersey — twice … once on the jersey and once on the shorts.

    It’s like when you have an open-book test and forget to open the book.

    This is the rare time when a uniform’s “storytelling” elements actually make sense. If Nike limited the “storytelling” to uniforms with these features, it would be something I could get behind.

    It’s not often I say this in today’s NBA, but this new uniform is a welcome addition.

    In general this is fine, and the fact that Russell has passed makes them more than appropriate for this season, but I can’t help but be frustrated in the fact that the Celtics can’t do ANYTHING that isn’t about them! It’s a “city” jersey, how bout trying something, ANYTHING having to do with the city of Boston/state of Massachusetts/area of New England that isn’t Celtics related?!

    It hasn’t escaped my attention that none of the teams from The Hub render “Boston” in script. Is there an issue with seeming too fancy?

    If I need a guide to tell me how this uni is a tribute to Bill Russell, it’s not a very good tribute. There’s the memorial patch that every NBA uniform has this year. Then there are the 11 diamonds along the side (not even Larry O’Brien or Walter Brown trophies) and a number 6 on the waistband, both of which you need to be close to see. If a half dozen people in the world will look at that script and say “That reminds me of Russell’s restaurant,” that’s a lot.

    From the stands, you wouldn’t think this uniform honors Russ if you didn’t already know. Even standard Celtics unis with the 1960s wordmark and number font (link) would do a better job.

    Love it as a uniform (except for the ever present diamonds) but as an unique tribute to Bill Russell I would have incorporated some USF elements in it. Fitting, as the Dons have green as a color as well.

    Irrespective of whether they are retconning the Bill Russell tribute onto this jersey, it’s not a bad jersey (ad aside). I don’t even mind the shade of green.

    Awful. If they wanted to honor Russell, they should wear the uni that he wore, not this gaudy abomination. Were Bill Russell living, he would have hated this.

    I read on the Chris Creamer site that Russell was actually involved in designing this uniform so I am not sure that your statement is accurate.

    This is a nice uniform by itself, but when associated with the Celtics and the nonstop stream of new uniforms every season, it is meaningless. Nothing about this uniform screams Bill Russell or the Boston Celtics. This is going to start a new trend that whenever an NBA legend dies, there’s going to be a uniform in his honor. Just stop, enough. Bill Russell is a legend, but we do not need a uniform to honor him. He has been honored many times over in other, more appropriate ways.

    “This is going to start a new trend that whenever an NBA legend dies, there’s going to be a uniform in his honor.”

    Whilst I wouldn’t put anything past the NikeBA, this uni was in the works well before Russell’s passing, and the Celtics noted the man himself had been involved in helping design the uniforms before he died. Whether or not that’s posthumous mythmaking or simply “fortuitous” timing, the fact remains that this uni was planned for this season before the GOAT left this earth. We can only hope this doesn’t become a thing when a future NBA legend dies.

    The Red Sox “city” jerseys are great! Sure, old boomers hate them, but the idea is to appeal to younger fans and not just old sticks in the mud (it’s 2022, we can do better than white home uniforms and grey road ones for every team). The Red Sox actually TRIED (and succeeded) in coming up with something Boston related that wasn’t about them, the Celtics should take note.

    It’s possible to discuss the merits of a uniform design without insulting people because of their age. Let’s please try to avoid that. Thanks.

    That’s fair. Shall I say, “people who don’t like change” as the ones who don’t like them (regardless of age)? Sure, it’s a ploy to sell more merch (for both the NBA and MLB), but as long as they’re gonna do it, what’s the harm in actually leaning into it like it’s designed to be (like the Red Sox do)? The Celtics need to stop being afraid to try something new!

    I’m not a boomer (but close!) and I LOVE the Sawx CC unis. After the ChiSox (which could and should be the template for a road uni — just strip off “Southside” and replace it with “Chicago” and boom…done), I think Boston’s CC uni is the second best of all the CC unis.

    link

    link

    If you click the second link, you’ll see it’s actually the younger generation that dislikes the BoSox CCs.

    Of course, we can argue whether or not the CC unis should even exist, but once Manfred League Baseball whored itself out to Nike, this was bound to happen…

    I’m a HUGE “get rid of the grey road uniform for MLB teams” guy. Home whites are great, but the White Sox should be in black jerseys and pants (like the CC), the Red Sox blue and blue, the Dodgers blue (like the CC), etc. Hopefully the city connect uniforms will at least normalize pants that aren’t just grey or white!

    I’m with you a little bit — I don’t think all teams should have an all gray road uni. As we saw in the 70s/80s, a powder blue roadie works quite well, and more recently, the Padres twice (link and link) went with non-gray road unis of recent vintage, not to mention their yellow-mustard kit (link). Several other teams have worn monochromatic uniforms that weren’t gray on the road (link), and of course some teams even went mono-color at home (link and link) — and you also had the 1970s Bucs doing both gold and black (link and link) both home and road, and also mixing and matching.

    I’m not a fan of mono-color at home (that should be a white uniform), but I’m ALL for non-gray road uniforms. I personally hate when teams wear a softball top with white pants (although sometimes this can look really good, for example: link and link), but by and large a home white uniform is preferable. And no team should wear a colored top with gray pants. I’m not sure when MLB instituted a “no white pants on the road” rule, but it’s gotta go.

    Of course, MLB/Nike aren’t in business not to sell jerseys to fans, so you’ll ALWAYS see alternate jerseys (or CC unis) at home. Heaven forbid teams could avoid that and wear white at home and wear their preferred color (even if it’s gray) on the road. And while I’m not opposed to non-gray roads, there are also some gray road unis that look great and should always be gray (link).

    Just my $.02. YMMV

    The worst look in MLB is when teams replace their gray road jersey with a color one, but leave the grey pants. It looks like half a uniform that wasn’t planned ahead of time (not unlike when NFL teams were mandated to keep the single helmet the last decade and it didn’t work with their color rush looks). It’s KINDA ok if the player is showing their socks (Acuna), but it’s REALLY bad when they wearing the full pant look (Riley).

    Phil, what we saw in the 1980s is that powder blue is horrible. The only team for which a non-grey road uniform worked was the Royals, when they had a road uniform that was a bit darker than powder blue.

    For all other teams powder blue was ugly. For teams such as the Cardinals and the Phillies, it was embarrassing. The return of powder blue in various alts has been an aesthetic nightmare.

    The most important point is that it is not possible to do better than white at home and grey on the road. There is exactly one current non-grey jersey that has any merit, and that is the Mets’ blue road jersey. But even that is not necessary, and the set would be better without it. (I must confess that I found myself liking the White Sox’ black City Connect set; still, I certainly wouldn’t want to see any other teams in pants that are not white or grey.)

    Ferdinand. I would respectfully disagree with your assessment of powder blue. You can’t seriously argue that this (link) or this (link) wasn’t a gorgeous uniform. Teams with blue, like those Expos or ChiSox, looked good in powder. I will agree with you that teams with red (Phils, Cards, Twins, for ex.) didn’t look good in the light blue roadies. But teams like Seattle or Toronto — or KC and the Expos — who were born in powder blue, looked better than they did in gray. It’s all subjective and a matter of opinion of course, but you’re wrong ;).

    Also, the Mets have ditched their “New York” road blue jersey, mercifully. They wore ONLY gray for every road game this year. I’d argue the only non-gray road jersey (and it is worn at home as well) that *works* is the ChiSox black top, simply because it works with the color scheme (link) and that’s only by virtue of the team having a white/gray stripe on the sleeve.

    Lots of good comments here already. Watching these in action on TV now, and between the color scheme and the number font, these uniforms really do make the players look more like the Sonics of the 1990s than anything resembling the Boston Celtics. Worse yet, they used almost the exact colors that the Milwaukee Bucks, their most formidable competitor in the Eastern Conference at the moment, now deploy. And for uniforms meant to honor Bill Russell, they also fall short of meaningfully doing so; the diamonds on the side panels and the waistband are decent enough touches I suppose, but the Celtics script resembling Russell’s restaurant is a stretch and a half and presumably won’t be even be noticed by most. In a vacuum these uniforms don’t look terrible, but with added context these honestly do come across as nearly as lazy and uninspired as many of the other unnecessary NBA alternate uniforms of recent years. And they look even sillier when clashing with their classic court (now featuring a big number 6 in each painted area, which actually is a tasteful and fitting tribute to a man who dominated down there).

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