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‘That’s Ass’: NBA Nixes Lakers’ Black Uni Due to Court-Contrast Concerns

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Remember when the NBA unveiled all those ridiculous-looking court designs for its inaugural In-Season Tournament? The league’s insistence on using an “innovative” court format has just resulted in a uniform controversy.

Here’s the deal: As you may recall, the idea has been for the home team in each Tourney game to wear its City uniform. Naturally, teams made sure that their City designs would provide enough contrast against their Tourney courts. The Lakers, for example, have a BFBS City uniform this year, which provides enough contrast against their yellow-and-purple Tourney court design (although it’s not great against the purple):

The Lakers reportedly like the black uni and have even become a bit superstitious about it (which is understandable since they’ve gone 4-0 in the Tourney, making them one of only three undefeated teams). There’s just one problem: The Tourney semifinals and finals are being played in Las Vegas, and those games have their own court design. It’s similar to the 30 team-specific Tourney courts — bold colors, a center “runway” — but without any team branding:

The NBA has decided that the Lakers’ BFBS City uniform won’t provide enough contrast against that court. So, as first reported last night by ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, the league has decreed that the Lakers will instead wear their primary yellow uniforms for tonight’s Tourney semifinal game against the Pelicans, even though the Lakers are the higher-seeded team and will thus be the designated home team.

According to McMenamin, an unnamed Lakers player, when informed of the league’s decision, replied, “That’s ass.”

It’s hard to argue with that assessment, at least as it pertains to the entire City/Tourney visual program. Most of the uniforms are awful, the court designs are even worse, and the Tourney itself is a big “Who cares?” This situation with the Lakers seems like a perfect encapsulation of how silly it all is. Nicely done, NBA!

Update: Several outlets are now reporting that the Pacers are being hit with the same restriction:


ITEM! New Substack Article

Now that a handful of NHL teams have experimented with wearing colored helmets with their white road uniforms, I decided to see how that would look for all 32 teams and then write about it for this week’s Uni Watch Premium article on Substack. For many of the teams (including the Wild, shown above), I think it’s a big upgrade!

You can read the first part of the article here. In order to read the entire thing, you’ll need to become a paid subscriber to my Substack (which will also get you full access to my Substack archives). My thanks, as always, for your consideration.



Can of the Day

Although the can itself is in rough shape, that’s a doozy of a design. But ugh, such a missed opportunity — “Quick as a Flash” should have been “Quick as a Flush”!

• • • • •

Happy Hanukkah to all who are observing tonight. — Paul

Comments (32)

    USL League 1 is instituting an NBA-style in-season tournament next year, and it seems mainly to be driven by scheduling concerns. But it also seems to be an opportunity for more teams to make and sell third or alternate jerseys. Since the field will be green for all USL1 Cup games, though, teams will actually get to wear their alternate uniforms at home.

    I’m surprised that I mostly prefer white helmets for NHL teams with yokes. The exception for me is the Wild. The greener the better, I guess.

    If what you’re saying is true, that’s just silly. USL teams already compete in an in-season tournament, the U.S. Open Cup. Why not just make alternate jerseys for that competition?

    That’s a fair question.

    USL is making moves (and has more on the horizon) to position itself as the league that does things “the way the rest of the world does them.” (And by “the rest of the world,” of course, we mean “Europe,” and by “Europe,” of course, we mean “England.”)

    USL also is only a participant in, and not in control of, the USOC, so creating its own tournament (a la England’s League Cup, whatever that’s called now) gives it marketing rights and control over how everything goes.

    I don’t know that anyone grew up dreaming of Forward Madison winning the league cup or anything, but my sense is that’s part of it.

    I can’t help but draw comparisons between the Premier League and EFL in England and MLS and USL in North America.

    In addition to their respective leagues, in England you have the League Cup and the FA Cup. I guess the U.S. Open Cup is the American equivalent of the League Cup, since it’s open to all MLS and USL teams. The FA Cup is open to semi-pro teams as well, with some 729 clubs competing this year.

    Regarding the USL starting its own cup competition – I’m not aware of a country that has a cup that’s only open to a specific tier of its professional football pyramid, so the comparisons to the NBA are more appropriate.

    I can only watch them in short intervals. Those courts are a violent crime against vision!

    The saturation of NBA uniforms is comically absurd. I’d like to know who it was in the league office who influenced/approved the path it has chosen. Further, I would love to see Paul interview this person and find out the origins of this nonsense. -C.

    It is freakin’ ridiculous. The Sixers should have kept their parchment-colored uniforms with “Philadelphia” on the front (all spelled out, not shortened). And perhaps a variation on the “We The People” court.

    Does this mean green football jerseys should not be allowed? Also, isn’t this all just TV production with competition and fair play as checklist items way down the list?

    Green *jerseys* on football fields are OK.
    Mono-green unis on football fields are not, as far as I’m concerned… unless you’re wearing them at Boise State or Eastern Michigan.

    As Scotty said in Star Trek III
    “The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.”

    Elaine: Search… for Spock?!
    Kramer: Yeah, I know Jerry will tell you that The Wrath of Khan is the better picture, but for me, I always…
    Elaine: You doofus!

    To the Substack article (and well done on it, Paul!) I wonder if this is a hint we are about to see NHL teams go to a full time option of color helmet to make travelling with two different sets of uniforms a little easier. 25 helmets and visors take a lot of space, but sweaters and socks not so much.

    This of course begs the question: why have In-Season Tournament uniforms and In-Season Tournament courts when one can’t be worn on the other.

    Seems like no one in the league thought this through.

    Light-colored helmets (orange Flyers’, gold Penguins’ buckets) for the white uniform, otherwise white helmets with white jerseys. I can’t get behind this new trend. It looks amateur.

    Maybe this is my own observer bias and personal preferences talking, but it seems to me that you see fewer people wearing basketball jerseys than baseball, football or hockey jerseys. I think a lot of it comes from the fact that tank tops are the standard in basketball. Simply put, a lot of people don’t look good in tank tops. Many restaurants and other places with dress codes (including jobs) frown on uncovered shoulders, further limiting their ability to be worn. It is interesting to me that the NBA then has become the first league to go off the deep end with excessive amounts of wardrobe options – and courts to match – to obliterate any semblance of a consistent visual package because I can’t imagine fans are buying 5 jerseys to keep up a different look every year.

    Good on the NBA to nix them for valid accessibility reasons. Bad on the NBA for having such a hideous court for this in the first place.

    Meanwhile LeBron when interviewed about the In-season Tournament was quoted this week as saying (I’m paraphrasing here because I refuse to cite Twitter/X): “Adam Silver is a Genius and the In-season Tournament is brilliant.”

    I could NOT disagree more.


    How about they cut the season down to 46 games (2 against every in-conference team, 1 against every team in the other conference) add extra days between games (cuts down on games cannibalizing TV viewers from each other and ideally cuts down on “load management” and missed games due to injury), change the all star game into a 2-on-2 NBA Jam style round robin where every team sends 2 players and one backup only to be used in case of injury and make it a 4 day weekend event. Don’t mandate teams to get ANY new uniforms ever if they don’t want them. Stop calling it the “play in tournament” because that seems to make the players mad. Just say those teams are wild cards

    That fixes so many of my problems with the NBA.

    I’ll watch Thursday Night Football between the Patriots and the Steelers before I EVER watch the NBA “In Season Tournament”.

    So 18 of the 30 City Edition uniforms had black or dark gray bases… Just change the freaking court design. NBA looks so stupid for this

    And so the ridiculous court design and stupid uniform designs come back to bite the NBA in its behind. The most sickening thing: these multi million athletes enjoying all of this for 100.000 bucks per person extra for the winner. Nothing sounds more professional than the word greed. Nothing motivates more than money. Good lessons.

    The In Season Tournament has been nothing short of an enormous success. Anyone who follows the NBA as a sport will whole-heartedly agree. As a Uni-Watch follower, I agree that the courts are a bit much and the fact that it determined the uniforms that the teams are allowed to wear was a miss by the NBA. With that being said, I think it was really beneficial as a fan to have these unique court designs because it made it very clear immediately that this was an In Season Tournament game. Keep the uniformity, go with a more traditional color scheme. The players clearly want to win for reasons beyond a $500,000 bonus because they’re professional athletes who are extremely competitive by nature. This tournament means something, they’ll figure out the floor an uniform issues.

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