Good Sunday morning, Uni Watch readers. I hope everyone had a pleasant Saturday.
I’m joined today by Uni Watch stalwart Walter Helfer, who is back today with what I think is a really fun set of concepts. You may recall Walter had re-envisioned MLB’s City Connect uniforms a while back, and has contributed a number of articles I’ve hosted on the site over the years. Today, Walt will take a look at “NBA Tournament” uniforms. As you’ll recall, this year, the NBA introduced an “in-season” tournament, which featured new court designs and new “City” edition uniforms (which were designed to be worn on the tournament courts). Walter has concepted what he calls “Tournament Uniforms” which he feels — and I agree — would have been much better designs than those the NBA foisted upon teams. Not only has he done concepts for the Eastern and Western Divisions, he’s also created a set of “vintage” uniforms for defunct teams. We’ll look at the Eastern Conference today in Part I, and the remainder in additional articles.
NBA Tournament Uniforms Redux: Part I
by Walter Helfer
Frequent visitors to Uni-Watch know I’m not one to suffer in silence when professional leagues who ought to know better foist misguided and ugly uniforms on consumers of its product. I took on the City Connect project of Major League Baseball some time back, and now I turn my attention to the NBA’s in-season tournament. I tried to draw on what I find to be team’s trademarks, as well as their appearance when they enjoyed their greatest success. A hefty chunk of B-ball teams have never grabbed the brass ring, which gave me a degree of freedom not found in football and baseball. And, for your pleasure, I included the shorts and the backs; I’m nothing if not thorough. I can’t wait to read your input, and when necessary, correct my mistakes.
From a graphics’ point-of-view, the Dominique Wilkins-era uniforms are utterly crazy. But they have an undeniable following. The 2024 colorway adds more pep.
At a kiosk in Hampton Beach, we sold Celtics’ jerseys with color trim (perhaps a way to not tread on their intellectual property?) Some used yellow (gold), and others used lima-bean green. I’ve seen gold on some of their warm ups and apparel.
It was always going to be about the Dr. J uniforms. You knew that. I stopped short of using the spaghetti-strapped jerseys.
Alexander Julian is that rare clothier who “Gets It”. I especially like his use of multiple accent colors: On a lark I swapped the role of the accents and the team’s colors, and played up the resemblance of the jersey to a cricket sweater. And being the man of letters I am I fattened up the chest script.
One of my favorite uniforms so I tried combining the colors in a new way. The heavy black against the red lends an industrial flair to the tried and true… and Chicago’s nickname is well-known.
The Cavs have had more looks than I’ve had hot dinners. They also have a championship, which is one more than I have! Wine and gold are the most enduring colors of the the Cleveland palette. Had they not brought home the trophy in 2016, I was prepared to utilize their stripey 1976 uniforms; the team was enjoying a modicum of early success and the look was memorable.
The “Bad Boys” years had to be respected, but I liked the flaring stripes that appeared on their mid-’70s shorts. “Motor City” is one of the few nicknames that doesn’t make me cringe.
I went with a lighter shade of blue to represent Reggie Miller’s rookie year. I also whipped up a checkered flag logo to add some flair. Their logo game could use some punching up.
Okay, so I show my true colors as a Floridians fan. The Heat play fast and loose with their color scheme constantly, so let’s go full-neon. A rare expansion team with repeated successes.
I’m not a fan of the “Cream City” sobriquet (Milwaukee is a *beer* city!) so I married their angular graphics to the original green+red colors.
NEW YORK KNICKS
When’s the last time you heard the Apple referred to as “Fun City”? Okay, so it’s more ironic, now. Take a close look at the insignia over the player name. The arrangement of the “NYK” score bug in “New YorK” is a gift.
The closest this team has to Glory Days is early success with Shaquille O’Neal. Pinstripes are obligatory, but I also liked the uniforms with the sublimated star graphics.
I’ve wanted to do a uniform like this for years! The red oblongs on the sides are a callout to the 1983 uniforms, when Philadelphia was a powerhouse.
Torontosaurus briefly had a two-toned uniform which I quite liked. Not really a representation of their championship year, but the Raptors have a bit of an identity crisis.
Admittedly, this is a Baltimore Bullets design, but it’s irresistible.
Thanks Walter! Fantastic set of designs, and they’re arguably ALL better than any of the City uniforms the NBA trotted out this season. We’re all looking forward to Parts Two and Three.