Ranking the Coolest NBA Jerseys Worn So Far This Season
By this point in the season, we've seen what each NBA team has to offer. The rosters are set with the trade deadline gone, and the playoff picture is progressively coming into focus.
But we've also seen the coolest jerseys that all NBA teams have to offer. If the 16 playoff teams were decided on style, these would be the rankings for the postseason fashion elite.
Oddly, the East's eight coolest jerseys have all been worn by playoff teams, while there are a couple of sleepers in the West underperforming with superior style.
As could possibly transpire with the actual playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers came up short. Frankly, I'm a big believer in the power of the old scoop-neck uniforms from the Showtime era.
And then there are teams who routinely persist in sporting rank jerseys, causing them to miss the rankings as well.
I will spare my direct criticism of those franchises lacking in swag, but if I were to name a few, the Charlotte Bobcats and Minnesota Timberwolves might very well come up.
So who cracked the rankings? You had better believe the Miami Heat made this list, as did most of the Hardwood Classics celebrants, but the "BIG Color" jerseys worn on Christmas Day scored zero points.
Based on a complicated and entirely subjective set of criteria, these are the sweetest 16 jerseys from this season.
16. Houston Rockets
Though I have heretofore been underwhelmed by these Houston Rockets jerseys, they've finally found their purpose.
Even the accent on the shorts evoke a rocket (an homage to the city's rich aeronautical history), and Houston has left slower opponents in its vapor trail.
The Rockets brought in the big beard of James Harden and the lack of sanity provoked by Jeremy Lin. As a result, they have played the most entertaining basketball of any team in the league.
I prefer their home jerseys to the alternates because the Cleveland Cavaliers rock the ketchup-and-mustard look with much more style (though ketchup should never go on a hot dog).
15. Memphis Grizzlies Alternates
This is probably a controversial choice, as the Memphis Grizzlies struggle with their style for the most part.
But what can I say? I'm a sucker for powder blue.
Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol have been splendid all year, but particularly when the Grizz sport their alternate uniforms. Look at how Z-Bo makes it pop with the matching headband!
Too bad they traded Rudy Gay and now have no scorer.
14. Indiana Pacers '90s Throwbacks
The retro nature of these throwbacks is not immediately apparent until you imagine Rik Smits wearing the jersey. The Dunking Dutchman—coming straight outta Eindhoven—was with the Indiana Pacers for his entire career.
He donned this version of the uni for his final three seasons, and the Pacers kept the design until 2005.
The pinstriped classics keyed Indy to a 102-89 win over the Miami Heat on Feb. 1.
13. Sacramento Kings '90s Throwbacks
Ah, the Sacramento Kings of the '90s. For a franchise that has had exactly one cool jersey since the departure of Reggie Theus, it's a good thing they reintroduced these Mitch Richmond-era throwbacks.
The '94-'97 checkerboard alternates helped power Sacramento to a 120-109 victory over the Utah Jazz on Feb. 9.
Checkmate. I mean, king me.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder Alternates
Somehow, these faux retro jerseys have gradually won me over. I hated them at first. The wide white trim around the neck and arms, the vertical lettering and off-centered number—it was just so unsettling.
But like a Jackson Pollock painting, the meaning began to take shape after prolonged exposure.
These alternates are like an Instagram filter on a uniform. If you've only existed for five years since rebranding, why not design a fake throwback?
The expansion Tampa Bay Rays did it in MLB. Fittingly, manager Joe Maddon modeled them, as he was the only person alive when the throwback would have been worn.
This OKC style looks like the basketball jerseys they would rock on Mad Men.
11. Chicago Bulls '90s Throwbacks
Those red pinstripes against the black are ever so subtle, yet powerful, much like the talents of Richard Hamilton.
The Chicago Bulls have some of the best jerseys in the NBA, but these are a special twist. They rocked the pinstripes from 1995 to 1997 and coincidentally won two championships.
But the retro look certainly didn't help them in their 86-67 loss to the Miami Heat on Feb. 21.
10. Milwaukee Bucks '90s Throwbacks
These hunter green, white and purple classics also feature the haunting image of a proud buck standing tall.
Glenn Robinson made these loud, odd jerseys look good. With the addition of J.J. Redick, the Milwaukee Bucks have one of the most stacked backcourts in the league to go with a potential Defensive Player of the Year in Larry Sanders.
Amazingly, these are the best uniforms in Bucks history.
9. Denver Nuggets Alternates
They don't call him the Manimal for nothing. Denver Nuggets second-year player Kenneth Faried brings an on-court ferocity not seen in the Mile High City since, well, Dikembe Mutombo, of course!
This variation on the classic sunrise-over-the-Rockies jerseys has brought the Nuggets good fortune. They are practically unbeatable at home and have molded themselves into postseason sleepers.
These jewels, blue and yellow, the type of stuff that make 'em call you Danilo. Gallinari, that is.
8. Brooklyn Nets
Sure, the Brooklyn Nets' uniforms might be slightly, shall we say, monochromatic. But all things that are black and white are good, right? Movies, cookies, racial harmony, Michael Ian and Shaun.
It's been an up-and-down first season in Brooklyn, but the jerseys look cool. Jay-Z made sure of that.
7. Atlanta Hawks '90s Throwbacks
I never really liked these Atlanta Hawks uniforms. They arrived on the heels of Dominique Wilkins' reign, and it felt like sacrilege to omit the big yellow numbers.
But consider just how terrifying that Hawk is. It appears to be snarling while also lunging at your eyes with its talons. Good thing someone shoved a basketball in there.
Plus, remember how good Dikembe Mutombo looked in these? "No, no, no, not in my house!"
6. Phoenix Suns '90s Throwbacks
The Phoenix Suns kicked off the throwback movement on Jan. 30.
These Charles Barkley-era jerseys spurred the Suns to a thrilling victory over the L.A. Lakers. Phoenix closed a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to burn Mike D'Antoni's squad.
The streaking cartoon sun looks amazing against the black background. Quintessential '90s. Now bring back the purple ones!
5. Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics simply have the best uniforms in the NBA. While their constancy harms their cool slightly, the green and whites are the standard-bearer.
The quality of their style is not even besmirched by the gruff manner of Kevin Garnett.
Classics. See, L.A.? Scoop necks!
These are almost as good as the New York Yankees' pinstripes.
4. Los Angeles Clippers Alternates
The crucial change that the L.A. Clippers made to their alternate jerseys was the color of the lettering. Previously, the red script on the light blue jerseys was practically illegible.
Now, the white lettering shines through, just like the Clippers' enthralling level of play.
3. Miami Heat '90s Throwbacks
Imagine for a moment that you had a time machine, and LeBron James was on the Miami Heat in the latter years of the '90s.
He'd be playing with Tim Hardaway, Alonzo Mourning, Jamal Mashburn and Dan Majerle. Michael Jordan's legacy would be totally different.
But you do not have a time machine, so you'll have to settle for the Big Three throwing down in these retina-singing throwbacks. LeBron is playing at an otherworldly level, and Dwyane Wade isn't far behind.
The Heat appear set to broil the rest of the East come playoff time.
2. New York Knicks
Bruce Springsteen famously sang of the glory days and claimed "they'll pass you by." But that is not the case for the New York Knicks.
After 15 years of weird paneling on the side of the uniforms, the Knicks have circled back to the look of the Patrick Ewing teams. The lettering is slightly less arched, but otherwise it could be 1994 all over again.
As Walt Frazier might say, these jerseys are a divine redesign. Threading and shredding.
1. Golden State Warriors
These Golden State Warriors jerseys first dropped in 2010, but the logo is really just a stylized version of their "The City" logo from 1970.
Now that Stephen Curry has etched his name on the wall of great performances in Madison Square Garden history, the Warriors have proven capable of running with any team. They just need to hope for stops on defense.
These jerseys elegantly blend modernity with '70s style, which can almost make us forget about their uniforms with sleeves.