The NBA season tips off next Tuesday. That means it’s time for my annual Uni Watch NBA Season Preview, which covers all the new uniforms (including the Pacers’ new look, shown above). It’s one of the largest columns I’ve ever done, especially for a pro league. Check it out here.
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Fifty years ago today: I wouldn’t have known this on my own, but reader Paul Bailey informs me that today is the 50th anniversary of the first ABA game, as the Oakland Oaks beat the Anaheim Amigos, 134-129, on Oct. 13, 1967.
Neither of those franchises retained those identities very long (the Oaks became the Washington Caps and then the Virginia Squires, while the Amigos became the L.A. Stars and then the Utah Stars), but that was part of the fun of the ABA, which always seemed to be in a state of flux. Along the way, the league gave us some of the best and most interesting uniform designs in pro basketball history (like the Nets and Stars unis shown above).
If you want to learn more about ABA uniforms, the excellent Remember the ABA site is always worth a look. And as mentioned in yesterday’s Ticker, longtime Uni Watch pal/ally Todd Radom just did a blog entry about the league’s visual legacy.
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The Ticker By Kris Gross
Baseball News: Astros SS Carlos Correa wore his home white jersey instead of his BP top like all his teammates during yesterday’s practice (from Chris Mycoskie). … Former Mets C Todd Pratt did a Q&A on the Mets Twitter account yesterday. He was asked about his favorite uni combo and said he preferred black jersey, white pants, and no stirrups. Like this (from Guy Fawkes). … David Sonny came across this 1940 Reds World Series ticket (although the term “World Series” doesn’t actually appear on it — it says “World’s Championship” instead). “I love the sales tax breakdown” he adds. … New caps and helmets for South Carolina (from @willchitty4). … Here is a really cool list of all the team names in baseball and how they fit in different categories (from Mike Styczen). … Given the possibility that the Yankees might make it to the World Series, the New York City FC/Columbus Crew SC match on Oct. 22 has been moved from Yankee Stadium to Citi Field. … Nats P Oliver Pérez wears No. 46, but he appeared to be wearing No. 47 cleats last night. Pérez has never worn 47 in his MLB career, but 47 is worn by his teammate Gio Gonzalez. Could he have been borrowing Gonzalez’s cleats? (From Alec Blomquist.)
Hockey News: Predators defenseman and Switzerland native Roman Josi is the face of the Swiss edition of the NHL 18 video game. As our own Alex Hider adds, he’s wearing an old jersey. … Charles Noerenberg points out the similarities between the Devils’ and Lightning’s 25th-anniversary logo’ are almost identical. … The CHL unveiled their 100th-anniversary national championship logo (from Wade Heidt). … An interesting find from Kyle Martinek, who stumbled upon the movie Ice Guardians on Netflix. “The preview showed a still of two NHL players, minus their logos. But once the movie started, the logos were back.”
NBA News: The NBA store in New York City now sells the new Nike jerseys, minus the ad patch (from Chris Rhode). … The Grizzlies announced they will eventually retire Tony Allen’s No. 9. Allen left Memphis this summer (from Mike Chamernik). … Here’s a look at the new Cavs court design.
We cover some pretty small details here at Uni Watch — belt buckles, shoelaces, wedding bands. But until now, I don’t think I’ve ever devoted an entry to the topic of facemask clips.
Some quick background: Back in the day, facemasks used to be screwed directly into the helmet shells. Then came the development of facemask clips, which made it easier to swap masks in and out and also, crucially, provided a bit of a “give” upon impact, helping to disperse the force of a blow.
I’ve been aware of facemask clips for almost as long as I’ve been watching football, but I’ve never given any thought to the different brands or designs. That changed when I recently received a note from longtime Uni Watch contributor/pal Michael Princip. As you may recall, he’s an industrial engineer who’s the lead designer on Schutt’s new F7 helmet. He’s also a helmet collector, and he was excited to tell me about one of his latest projects:
I thought you might be interested in a helmet DIY project I’ve been working on. Back in the 1980s, the original Shockblocker clips were introduced (or as I call them, Zide clips, because they were designed by a guy named Robert Zide). These were the first version of what would eventually become the current and more popular shockblocker clip.
That first version was monstrously big but simple in design, with surgical tube used as the shock absorber. A lot of NFL players wore them, including practically the entire Buffalo Bills team They’re very hard to find these days, and when you do, they’re very expensive. I had some royal blue 3D printer filament, so I decided to make my own clips.
Okay, let’s go one thing at a time. First, here are some photos of NFL players wearing the original Shockblockers. Sure enough, they’re huge, just as Michael said. For some reason I never really noticed them until now (click to enlarge):
Michael also sent me some scans of the December 1983 issue of Pro Football Athletic Trainer (“The biannual publication of the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society”). It includes an article about the then-new Shockblocker. Unfortunately, the scan, which wasn’t done by Michael, cuts off part of the page, so the article is hard to read, but you can still glean a bit of information from it (click to enlarge):
Here’s the patent for the original Shockblockers (which has since expired). Michael used the patent drawings as a guide for creating his 3D-printed verisons (click to enlarge):
And here’s how his clips look on an old Seahawks helmet from his collection (click to slightly enlarge):
Not bad! What should we call this — the Princip Clip? The PrinClip? By any name, it’s very cool. Thanks for sharing this one with us, Michael.
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StripeRite update: The second batch of StripeRite socks (shown at right) is now on sale for only $10/pair, including shipping (a big discount from the usual $16.50/pair). You can also get the third batch at the regular price, although quantities are dwindling. The first batch, alas, is now sold out.
NFL News: The Eagles will go mono-white for tonight’s game in Carolina. … The Panthers, meanwhile, will go mono-blue and will also add a “51” memorial decal for Sam Mills (thanks, Phil). … Lots of high schools poach NFL logos for their football teams, which is lazy and unethical. But the town of Shelbyville, Ill., takes things a step further by putting the Rams logo on their water tower (from Eric Bangeman).
NBA News: NBA headbands now have subtle Nike logo creep. They still have the NBA logo, although many players appear to be wearing it on the back, or inside-out (from Mike Chamernik). … Uniform designer/historian Todd Radom has done a great piece on the visual legacy of the ABA. Highly recommended. … Grizzlies PG Mario Chalmers had a small hole in the back of his jersey during last night’s preseason game against the Rockets (from @HitTheGlass).
College Hoops News: One of UNC women’s coach Sylvia Hatchell’s former players sent her quilt made from UNC T-shirts (from James Gilbert). … Also from James: Pretty good article on the company that made UNC’s championship banner. … Whoa, check out this shot of a 1980s game between WVU and Youngstown State with both teams going untucked and YSU wearing SNOB! (Great find by Robert Hayes.) … Michigan State has added a memorial patch for former coach Jud Heathcote, who died in August (from our own Kris Gross).
Soccer News: Dynamo Dresden will wear an anti-racism slogan instead of their usual jersey ad (from Ed Żelaski). … Thought-provoking note from Omar Jalife, who writes: “I was at the U2 concert in Mexico City last week and saw this U2 T-shirt, which mimics Pumas UNAM’s (soccer) jersey. Obviously, the U2 number and Joshua tree below it are not in UNAM’s jersey, but the main point I want to make is that people are so used to advertisers on our soccer jerseys that even a bootleg T-shirt maker felt the need to add all the ads. Could this shirt accomplish the same effect without the ads? Of course it would, but now there’s a mindset that ads are part of the design itself. I just hope it doesn’t end like that in the U.S. sports.” … Here’s what appears to be a pretty comprehensive index of soccer team crests (from @_VToasty_).
As NBA teams have announced their jersey advertisers, I’ve dutifully covered the announcements and run photos of the patches. Simple.
But in recent weeks, a reader/commenter named Cole has been questioning my approach. He has repeatedly said (I’m paraphrasing here), “Why do you keep showing the ad patches? That’s what the advertisers want! You’re just giving them more exposure.” My initial response to Cole, which I repeated several times, was, “Look, news is news, and it’s my job to cover uni-related news, even if it’s news that I find distasteful.”
But after thinking about it a bit more, I’ve decided that Cole was right. Or, rather, we were both right. It’s entirely possible to cover the newsworthy aspects of an ad patch announcement without amplifying the advertiser’s message.
So: Yesterday the Knicks became the 17th NBA team to announce a uniform-advertising deal (a particularly annoying development for me, because it means I’m gonna have to see that fucking patch every time I’m in a bar this winter and glance up at the TV). If you really need to know the identity of the advertiser, I’m sure you can find that in some other corner of the internet. From a Uni Watch perspective, the only thing that really matters is (a) the Knicks are now in the ad-clad category and (b) their uniforms will look terrible as a result. How terrible? This terrible (click to enlarge):
That isn’t what their ad patch actually looks like, of course. But the net visual effect is the same: The ad patch ruins the jersey, and Mr. Yuk (yes, that’s really what he’s called!) also ruins the jersey. Same difference. Mr. Yuk also nicely captures the sense of uniform ads being toxic to the uni-verse, which they are.
Feel free to share those photos.
Now let’s shift into FAQ mode:
Are you going to keep doing this every time an NBA team announces a new jersey advertiser?
Well, ideally there will be no more NBA teams announcing new jersey advertisers. But if there are any, then yes, I hope to keep doing this.
More than half of the league’s teams have already announced their jersey advertisers. Aren’t you locking the barn after the horse is already gone?
Yeah, I wish I’d thought of this sooner. But hey, better late than never.
What if a team uses its ad patch for a charity initiative, as the Jazz have done?
I’ll gladly show that type of patch. Good deeds deserve positive reinforcement.
Will you be Photoshopping the ad patches every time you run an NBA game photo on the site?
I’d love to do that, but the reality is that it would be too cumbersome. I’ll continue to do it when teams announce a new ad patch, however. And I’ll do my best to avoid mentioning the name of any uniform advertiser, at least here on the blog.
What about on ESPN? What about Twitter?
I think it’s safe to say that Mr. Yuk will not be appearing on ESPN. As for Twitter, I’ll have to think about that going forward.
If you’re not going to be consistent about it, why bother?
Because this website is my personal space, a place where I can control my own personal message. If I can do that without rubber-stamping or amplifying the exposure of the NBA’s uniform advertisers, that’s what I’m going to do. Think of it as a small way of expressing mockery, outrage, and despair over the uni ads.
Isn’t it your job to tell us what’s happening?
I’m telling you the only things that matter from a Uni Watch perspective: The Knicks have decided to go ad-clad, and their jersey looks awful as a result. The other details aren’t particularly relevant from a Uni Watch standpoint and mainly serve to further the advertiser’s agenda, which is something I’d prefer not to do if I can reasonably avoid doing it. (As an aside: While I won’t mention the Knicks advertiser’s name, I will mention that their corporate slogan is “Make it beautiful,” which is particularly ironic in this context.)
What about putting Mr. Yuk over the Nike logos?
Don’t tempt me.
You’re such a hypocrite! You’re trashing these ads, but there are ads all over this website.
I realize it may seem that way to some people. But uniform ads are a big deal to me, and so is the larger spread of advertising where it doesn’t belong. Obviously, we all have to choose our battles. This is one that I’ve chosen.
There are currently 13 ad-free teams. The regular season begins in six days. #NoUniAds
(My thanks to Steve Vibert and Nic Schultz for their Photoshop assistance, and to Cole for pushing me on this issue.)
NFL News: A Cowboys fan lost a bet with his wife over Sunday’s game and had to burn his jersey. Unfortunately, he decided to burn the jersey while he was still wearing it (from Brinke). … We may have mentioned this before, but the 49ers players wear jerseys with an ad patch during community events (from RyanMaquiñana). …Curtis Akey was watching Manhunt: Unabomber, a show that takes place in 1995. One character appears in a scene wearing an Eagles jacket with a modern logo, which wasn’t introduced until 1996. … ICYMI from the baseball section: There was a Tom Brady sighting at the Cleveland Indians’ fall league game yesterday (from Aaron Bachmann and Robert Hayes). … NFL commish Roger Goodell wants players to stand for the national anthem, although it’s unclear how he intends to ensure that. Meanwhile, a labor union has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board regarding Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’s threat to bench any player who doesn’t stand.
College Football News: The Gators aren’t the only Florida team wearing a wild one-off this weekend: UCF will wear space-themed helmets on Saturday against ECU (from Paul Kilgas). … Miami will go BFBS on Saturday against Georgia Tech. … A member of Northern Iowa’s band lost his or her instrument in the field goal netting during a game last weekend. … Southern Miss will wear 1980s throwback helmets for homecoming this weekend (from Ben Goss). … North Texas will go black/black/white this Saturday (from Garrett Gough). … The ACC Tracker has been updated for week six.
Hockey News: The Golden Knights went without advertising on the boards for their first-ever home game. Instead, they memorialized the Route 91 shooting victims with “Vegas Strong.” It was the first NHL game without advertising on the boards since — anyone know? … In that same game, the officials wore “Vegas Strong” helmet decals. … The Green Bay Gamblers will wear military appreciation unis on Oct. 28 (from Brian Kehrin). … The Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League have changed their nameplate design (old on left, new on right) (from David Hein). … The Colorado Eagles are moving from the ECHL to the AHL in 2018-19 (from Wade Heidt). … New sweaters for Youngstown State (from Robert Hayes).
Basketball News: The Nuggets announced that they will retire Fat Lever’s No. 12 during their game against the Lakers on Dec. 2. Lever played six seasons in Denver, beginning in 1984 (from Mike Chamernik). … New uniforms for Cal (from Phil).
Soccer News: Jan Vertonghen appeared in his record-breaking 97th match for the Belgian men’s national team yesterday, and the team awarded him with a No. 97 jersey — including patches! (From our own Jamie Rathjen). … Tailor made for Uni Watchers: Hank Willis Thomas is a British artist that works in soccer uniforms (from Sean Kane). …
What Paul did last night: After work yesterday, I joined my friend Carrie in Manhattan to check out a pair of gallery shows. Our first stop was the David Zwirner Gallery, where we wanted to see the exhibit of wire sculptures by the late sculptor Ruth Asawa.
You can see the main exhibit room in the photo above — the stuff is completely amazing! Here are some additional photos (if you can’t see the slideshow below, click here):
If you want to see this show, it’s at David Zwirner, 537 West 20th St., NYC, through Oct. 21.
After that, we walked a few blocks to the Sikkema Jenkins Gallery to check out the new current exhibit of paintings by Kara Walker, which I wasn’t able to get good photos of (the work is very large and my pics don’t do it justice). Then we walked a bit on the High Line, where we came upon this sculpture, which seemed like an apt metaphor for any number of things (click to enlarge):
After all that art, we were hungry, so we went to my favorite Chelsea pub for burgers and beers. A very nice evening. Hope yours was good, too.
The Swamp will be a bit swampier than usual this weekend, or the Gators will be more Gators-y than usual, or something like that, as Florida will be wearing a “swamp green” gator-print uniform. The new design, which was unveiled last night with no buildup or warning (at least that I was aware of), will be worn for Saturday’s game against Texas A&M. According to a press release, it’ll mark the first time the Gators have deviated from their familiar orange/blue color scheme.
Here are some additional photos (the first of which you can click to enlarge):
Okay, so this is the part where I’m supposed to say how this is a costume, not a uniform, and how it’s just a bad joke, and how I hate the whole thing.
And yeah, it is a costume. But guess what: I don’t hate it. I mean, I wouldn’t call it attractive, and it’ll probably look a lot worse on a green gridiron, but I think it’s a fun idea. I agree with one of my Twitter followers, Juan González, who gave this assessment last night: “So ugly they’re awesome. Helmet, pants, and socks should have included the gator skin, too.” Exactly! If you’re gonna do it, do it all the way.
Another one of my Twitter followers, Jeremy Posner, raised a more serious concern: “Those uniform numbers are invisible for those of us who are red-green colorblind.”
As you might expect, Juan and Jeremy weren’t the only people on Twitter to offer their thoughts on this uniform. Most of the responses were predictable (the same barfing GIFs again and again, yawn), but a few of the reactions were inspired. This one was my favorite:
Baseball News: For the first time ever, Cleveland worethe block-C caps in a postseason game last night (from MD and John Sabol). … The home plate ump in that game had some issues with his postseason patch and memorial patch. … The Red Sox’s Hanley Ramirez lost his helmet during a hard swing yesterday, and because he puts so much pine tar on his helmet, a clump of dirt stuck (thanks Paul). … Cleveland 2B Jason Kipnis was wearing a shirt with a personal logo inspired by the MLB’s batterman silhouette during a pregame presser yesterday. The logo is inspired by Kipnis’s distincitve batting stance (from Mike Menner).
NFL News: The Broncos will be going mono-blue on Sunday (from Phil). … For anyone looking for a close up of the “Crucial Catch” captaincy patches, here you go (from Zach Zaidman). … Here’s a great photo gallery of Giants’ great Y.A. Tittle, who died yesterday at age 90. RIP (from Phil). … Vote here for your favorite uni matchup of this week’s NFL games (from the Uni Watch Fan Page). … This may have been covered before, but it appears that the Steelers are keeping Ben Roethlisberger’s helmet stripe intact this year, even though he wears a Speedflex helmet. However, RB Le’Veon Bell also has a Speedflex helmet, and his numbers and stripe are both cut (from Omar Jalife). … KPTV, a Fox affiliate in Portland, used an old NFL logo during a recent broadcast (from Neal Hanson).
Hockey News: I don’t think we’ve seen this in hockey yet: The Blue Jackets are using 3D helmet logos this year (from Patrick Thomas). … Sabres RW Kyle Okposo had a misspelled NOB last night. … The Blackhawks have added a small “3” helmet decal for former player Pierre Pilote, who died in September. It wasn’t there for their home opener, but they added it for their second game and have kept wearing it (from Bill Schaefer). … No photos yet, but the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL will unveil military appreciation jerseys today at 11 (from Terry Charles). … Adam Lilyquist got a T-shirt heat press for his birthday, and the first shirt he made was inspired by theHawks from the movie Mighty Ducks — aka, the “bad guys.” … The Oilers updated G Cameron Talbot’s bobblehead to reflect his new gear and the team’s new Adidas uni.