NBA teams across the league unveiled new jerseys this past week as the global partnership between Nike and the NBA is slated to begin this coming season. Nike incorporated the input of players across the league combining that information with specific research into the movements of a basketball player during a game to come up with the perfect design for the debut. Overall, the new unis look very sharp, but there are certainly some that stand out above the rest. I’ve put together a list of my top, and bottom three jerseys based on appearance alone. Let’s see who made the cut, and be sure to tell me your opinion in the comments!
First, let’s understand how Nike conceptualized their design. They made a press release about their approach to the jerseys detailing the following:
On average, NBA players travel four miles per game. Rather than a smoothly sustained effort, their movements are typically contained to 1.6-second bursts, tallying hundreds of tiny directional changes over the course of a game. This kind of constant motion reflects the free-flowing nature of the sport and underscores the importance of a lighter and more flexible uniform silhouette.
In order to achieve these goals, Nike tuned the uniform design to the rigors of this increasingly intense 82-game season by employing 3D-body maps of players, including heat and sweat maps. This research led Nike’s designers to make significant changes to the weight, fit and construction — with special attention to enhancing agility.
NBA players, including members of last summer’s gold medal-winning USA Basketball team, tested an early version of the uniforms and provided specific feedback, requesting even more adjustments.
“The mental advantage of a quality uniform is priceless,” said Kyrie Irving. “The fact that Nike listened to all of our feedback while developing the new NBA uniforms speaks volumes, I’m excited for the new fit and feel.”
This insight prompted the designers to move the armhole, neck and side seams to eliminate distractions for athletes. The most significant change comes to the back shoulder of the uniform, where Nike designers altered the construction of the jersey.
Additionally, the hemlines on the bottom of both the jersey and shorts were modified to allow for full range of motion.
“When you look and feel good, you play good,” said Draymond Green. “I welcome any competitive advantage on the court and the new Nike NBA uniforms deliver on the feedback that we’ve provided.”
From what Nike, and test subjects from the NBA have reported, the new jerseys are specifically engineered to minimize distractions while maximizing the range of motion a player has. Nike has eliminated restrictive sections of the jersey specifically in the bottom part of the shorts where they’ve made a triangle shaped cut to allow for a more complete range of motion. The jerseys also incorporate technology to keep players as dry as possible during their rigorous 48 minutes of play per game.
So now that we know the basics, let’s dive into the fashion. Nike’s jerseys will come with matching tights that many players already wear underneath their shorts. As you can see in the image above, the shorts match the tights, socks and shoes with the recognizable Nike logo clearly visible.
As I looked through all the uniform photos there were a few that really stood out to me. Granted, some teams have an advantage simply because the colors the team has to pick from are more bold than others.
My grading criteria is loosely based around the following factors:
- Overall appearance of the jersey as a whole. Does the jersey have some excitement happening, or is it boring? Does it make a player look professional and formidable, or is is it too plain for a professional jersey?
- What does the font look like? I personally always hated the old Minnesota Timberwolves’ font. While I think it captured the spirit of the timberwolf claw marks, it appeared far too cartoon-like for my taste.
- Does the jersey capture the overall spirit of the team?
I’ll begin by listing the bottom three jerseys. These jerseys aren’t “bad” because, let’s face it, I don’t think we will see anything bad coming out of Nike anytime soon. However, I believe these jerseys lack a little luster and I will provide specific reasoning for each.
Best of the worst 0n my list is the Milwaukee Bucks. My opinion of these jerseys is that they aren’t very interesting. I specifically dislike the font selection (I have a number of font problems on the new jerseys.) The “Bucks” font is almost too rigid for my taste. It looks a little like the old computer font, that’s a little cheap looking for my taste. On the back of the jersey, the font is very hard to read as some of the letters blend together.
The word “Milwaukee” is too long of a word to use with this particular font in my opinion. However, I did rank the Bucks the best of the worst because they incorporated the phrase “Fear the Deer” on their shorts. While I think it’s a little bit of a rip off of the “Fear the Beard” campaign made by James Harden fans, I will concede that it’s clever, and pays homage to their mascot and the team’s region.
The next worst jersey on my list belongs to the Indiana Pacers. Even though their color scheme is fairly simple and therefore tough to work with, I feel like the overall design is too plain. I also have a serious problem with the font. Up close the lettering, and extreme arch make it very difficult to read. The letters are also very thin so from far away it will be nearly impossible decipher what’s on the front of the jersey unless you already know.
I do like the yellow side panel that acknowledges the Indiana farmland so all is not lost. If the font was larger, and the farmland detail was more prominently placed, I would have graded them much higher.
If I was a Chicago Bulls fan, I would be very disappointed with the new team jerseys. They look so similar to the ones they’ve had this whole time that I’m skeptical they made any changes. Chicago’s new uniform also doesn’t pay respects to their struggling city, and I think that’s a missed opportunity to generate pride from the locals who come to the games. I do like the Bulls logo on the side of the shorts. I think that a large logo that stands out is eye catching and will be a nice way to recognize the team on the court. Overall the jersey is boring and didn’t change a whole lot so I’m disappointed that this decorated team didn’t get a better design.
So, now that we’ve seen the “just ok” jerseys, let’s look at the really great ones (in my opinion). These jerseys really communicate a message and they do a great job of representing the spirit of the team.
Cleveland’s new jerseys are something their fans should really be excited about. My first impression was that they look serious, and like they mean business. The Red Bull sponsorship is so fitting for that team given the level of intensity and energy they play with each game. The lettering on the jersey is very clear, and the home and away jerseys have a unique detail on the shorts noting “CLE” on the away jersey, and “CAVS” on the home jersey. There is also a small phrase on the shorts that says “ALL FOR ONE” which is the team’s mantra. Overall these jerseys are sleek, stylish and the unique details give them a special meaning for the team and the city.
Coming in at second place, the Minnesota Timberwolves have actually simplified their jerseys quite a bit, and the reactions have been mixed. I personally think they look very clean and crisp. The previous Timberwolves jerseys looked a little too cartoonish for my taste, and I wasn’t a big fan of the amount of green incorporated into those jerseys. The new logos incorporate the old green coloring in the eye and nose of the Timberwolf as well as a green star on the basketball behind the wolf.
The lettering on the jersey is bold, clear and strong, and the clear colors of blue and white make the numbers on the jersey pop. I also like how the jersey appears to fit closer to the body. It gives a very modern appeal to the jersey and will likely make the players look very strong and serious as they head out on to the court. Well done Nike!
First place in my jersey book this year has to be the Phoenix Suns. To be fair, the Suns have some pretty bold colors, and my favorite color happens to be purple. However, these jerseys really look great. I specifically love the lettering on the front of the jersey. There are multiple shades on the lettering itself that make them appear almost three dimensional. They completely pop off the jersey and the purple and orange up against the white looks really nice.
The Suns logo sits at the middle of the waist band which you won’t see in games, but that little detail makes all the difference in the sea of purple on the shorts. On the Association (or away) jersey, there is an orange detail depicting blazing sun rays. If you’ve ever been to Phoenix in the summer you’ve felt these first hand. Phoenix is going to look sharp this season, and if Devin Booker goes off for another 70 point game he’s sure to look good doing so.
I’m certain there are jerseys I have overlooked, and as the season begins I will probably notice some jerseys I would rank differently so I’m excited to see them in action. Be sure to share your opinions and your favorites in the comments section!