...A Love Letter to the NBA All-Star Jerseys of the '90s

Sean Hojnacki@@TheRealHojnackiFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2013

Dear NBA:

I've seen the jerseys for this year's All-Star Game. They're decent, but I know you can do better.

Didn't you notice how enthralled all the fans were by the Hardwood Classics Night on Friday? The Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls all looked incredible.

And the Phoenix Suns' throwbacks from the '90s powered them to a comeback victory on Wednesday.

Sometimes styles from back in the day may be oldies, but they're goodies too.

So, the 62nd All-Star Game will take place at the Toyota Center in Houston on Sunday, Feb. 17. It's the culmination of a series of events which comprise All-Star Weekend starting on Feb. 15.

These include the celebrity game and Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, and the D-League All-Star Game, skills challenge, three-point contest and slam dunk competition on Saturday.

It's sure to be the most exciting weekend Houston has seen since since the 2012 Rodeo and Livestock Show.

But it's all a bit of a disappointment compared to the heydey of the All-Star Game back in the '90s. Just think about all the classic dunk contests with the likes of Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins.

Who won last year's competition? I'll wait for you to try and remember (Hint: It definitely wasn't Shawn Kemp). Give up?

It was Jeremy Evans, who defeated Chase Budinger. Not exactly household names.

Bring back the '90s jerseys, and you'll bring back the '90s magic.

In mid-January, adidas announced the special uniforms for this year's All-Star Game.

According to their press release (via NBA.com), "the uniforms take inspiration from Houston's rich aeronautical history." That seems appropriate for a game featuring the sport's best above-the-rim players, including All-Star starters Blake Griffin, LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

These jerseys also feature an "impact camo pattern," which will either make the players blend in or stand out. This allegedly "evokes the world's fastest fleet of aircraft with the classic silhouette of a basketball net."

Also, the letters and numerals are "inspired by the stenciled style on jet planes."

That's all very well and good, but I yearn for simpler times. Times when jerseys didn't evoke anything at all, but just had a gaudy cartoon related to the host city printed on the chest.

Like these.

Georgetown alumni Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning look resplendent in these 1995 All-Star uniforms. 

As one might guess from the lovely cactus on the jerseys, that game was played in Phoenix.

In 1996, the game was held in San Antonio. The jersey design? A cartoon basketball with a star shooting out of it. Don't Jason Kidd and Grant Hill look marvelous in them?

You can even ask their opinion as they're still in the NBA.

Those '95 and '96 uniforms were downright boss.

In 1994, the uniforms weren't particularly fantastic, but they were a triumph of graphic design (at least back then).

Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon battled over whether the home or away jerseys looked better.

Sadly, in 1997, you could not be bothered to design an All-Star uniform.

The East and West merely wore normal team jerseys, with one squad rocking their home unis, and the other rocking the aways. 

There was a special All-Star patch, though!

This ushered in a sad era where there was no special All-Star uniform at all.

Finally, in 2004, you realized that specific uniforms for the All-Star Game are a good idea and made something more special than a mere patch.

But it just wasn't like it used to be.

Don't get me wrong: There's nothing wrong with this year's jersey per se, but sometimes you just have to keep it old school.

So, for 2014's All-Star Game in New Orleans, you should bring back the cactus-jersey approach from '95. All I want to see on the uniforms is a cheesy cartoon Mardi Gras mask against some bright purple, green and gold.

They'd look great; they'd sell like hotcakes. And I don't even want a percentage!

Trust me, fans don't want "impact camo." They're pining for that fresh look from back in the day. So keep it old school.


Sean Hojnacki

(born 1983, fell in love with basketball in the early '90s)


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