Ranking the 10 Best Uniforms in the NBA

Max RappaportFeatured Columnist IDecember 6, 2017

Ranking the 10 Best Uniforms in the NBA

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    Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

    When the NBA tapped Nike as its new official uniform provider, many teams took the opportunity to revamp their home and road sets (now referred to as "Association" and "Icon" uniforms).

    Many more introduced new alternates (aka "Statement" uniforms), some that harken back to popular looks from the past and others that push the limits of fashion in professional sports.

    With so many new uniforms in the league today, we decided to take a shot at ranking the 10 best of the 90 that have been unveiled so far based upon aesthetic, originality and use of color.

    But first, some dishonorable mentions.

Dishonorable Mentions

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Boston Celtics Statement (black)

    When executed properly, black alternates can be pretty dope (spoiler alert: a handful made our top-10 list). But in this case, the concept falls entirely flat. The Celtics are a classic NBA franchise with a timeless green-and-white look that's gone unchanged since their inaugural season 70 years ago, and they should stop trying to be something they're not. Not to mention that the uniform itself looks awful.

            

    Minnesota Timberwolves Statement (green) 

    Well, these certainly do make a statement...just not the one you'd want. This acid green uniform not only offends the senses, it also makes no other stylistic distinctions from the team's primary two uniforms. 

             

    Indiana Pacers Icon (blue)

    We appreciate any attempt to do something different when it comes to NBA uniforms, so we wanted to like these new Pacers jerseys.

    Unfortunately, they're just not good. The circular wordmark surrounding the jersey number is a cool design feature, but these uniforms otherwise bring little to the table. The side panels don't match the rest of the jersey, the colors are meh and the shoulder holes and collar have a different pattern seemingly for no other reason than to upset the especially meticulous among us.

    These feel like a primary uniform that will undergo an overhaul in the not-too-distant future

10. Los Angeles Lakers Association (gold)

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    Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

    Classic. Bold. Timeless. When you think Los Angeles Lakers, you think of these uniforms, which have largely remained unaltered since the team changed its colors from blue and white to the more unique purple and gold in 1966.

    Some prefer the team's purple Statement kit, but the gold uniforms have long been the de facto home set and really pop when juxtaposed with the Broadway-style lighting at Staples Center. This particular iteration of Los Angeles' uniform hasn’t changed since 1999, and for good reason. Why mess with a good thing?

9. Oklahoma City Thunder Statement (navy)

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    Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

    Since moving from Seattle to Oklahoma City and shedding itself of one of the coolest identities in the league in favor of one that looks like it was designed within NBA 2K's create-a-team feature, the Thunder have struggled to find a uniform that does justice to their play on the court.

    The team’s Association and Icon uniforms haven’t changed for the better part of a decade, and the franchise’s ill-conceived "faux-back" uniforms from 2012 largely fell flat. But with this new navy alternate, the Thunder have finally hit on something unique and worthy of fashion icon and reigning MVP Russell Westbrook. From the gradient back panel to the glitched-out OKC wordmark, these uniforms do make a statement. 

8. Sacramento Kings Association (white)

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    Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    Some had their doubts when the Kings announced last year that they would be eliminating black on their home and road uniforms in favor of gray, but the beauty of the final product quickly put those worries to rest.

    The light gray side piping on the team’s Association kit nicely complements its white base, and the clean wordmark and number font in purple make this one of the sexier sets in the league. These also happen to display the team's wordmark at a slightly lower point on the jersey than where most teams place it, which ends up looking pretty neat as well.

    Now they just need to get some decent players to wear these beauties.

7. New York Knicks Association (white)

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Similar to the Kings, the Knicks really benefitted from transitioning away from black. New York has kept its primary uniform set basically unchanged since 2012, which is great, because these are killer.

    In terms of stylistic features, they are pretty plain, but what makes the Knicks' Icon uniform so great is the color scheme. The Knicks are one of three pro teams in New York City to rock blue, orange and white, the colors of the city's flag.

    And like the Mets and Islanders, the Knicks always look fresh thanks to that iconic color scheme.

6. Charlotte Hornets Statement (purple)

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    Kent Smith/Getty Images

    The Hornets were one of a handful of teams that opted not to make any major alterations to their uniforms under Nike's leadership. But one thing they did change was to take their purple road uniforms and make them alternates, moving a teal kit into their top two.

    While this move is questionable due to the high quality of the purple unis, the fact that they now have "Charlotte" as their wordmark instead of "Hornets" is great. Localization is a nice touch in a league that's become increasingly global.

    And as another nice touch, Charlotte is the only team with owner Michael Jordan’s Jumpman logo on the right breast instead of Nike's swoosh logo.

5. Philadelphia 76ers Icon (blue)

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    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    Ever since they unveiled a revamped uniform set in 2015, the Sixers have had one of the best-looking jerseys in the NBA.

    This past summer, they decided to throw a drop shadow on their PHILA wordmark and their numbers, adding an early-90s tinge to a uniform that already paid homage to the team's 60s, 70s, and 80s looks with its "PHILA" wordmark, side-panel stars and v-neck cut.

    The result is a beautiful uniform that combines modern design elements with classic features and highlights one of the prettiest colors in the league, the team's primary blue. And it doesn't hurt that studs Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are the ones donning this jersey night in and night out.

4. Chicago Bulls Statement (black)

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    Noah Graham/Getty Images

    You can't go wrong sticking to an iconic look from the past. An earlier, pinstriped cousin of these black Bulls jerseys was the hottest sports apparel item in the mid-90s, with Michael Jordan propelling them to must-cop status.

    Honestly, any black, white and red uniform is going to look beautiful (see: Portland Trail Blazers), but these aren't No. 4 on our list solely because of color scheme or nostalgia factor. From the classic collar trim to the recognizable diamond pattern on the shorts, these uniforms are flawless. The red pinstripes on the old set never quite looked right in our opinion.

    The Bulls may not win a lot of games this season, but at least they'll look good while losing.

3. Portland Trail Blazers Icon (black)

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    Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

    The Blazers have long had one of the best looks in professional sports, but with the newest iteration of their classic black uniform, they outdid themselves.

    Portland kept all the best design elements of its kit from the year before—the red and silver collar trim, the iconic diagonal stripe and "Portland" instead of "Blazers" on the front—while cleaning up the letter and number fonts.

    This is one of the few NBA jerseys stylish enough to look good as streetwear, but it looks even better on Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

2. Golden State Warriors Statement (black)

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Sheesh. These are straight fire. While most teams keep things simple with their alternate jerseys, maybe throwing on a slightly different wordmark font or using a tertiary color as a base, the Warriors went all out creating something new and unique.

    The black, white and gold color scheme is awesome, but the defining feature of this kit is the oak tree logo at the center of the jersey. It's a tribute to the city in which the Warriors have played for nearly 50 years but soon will leave once a new arena is completed in San Francisco.

    The Dubs have worn uniforms in the recent past with "The City" featured on the front, paying homage to a previous era when they called San Francisco home. It's nice to see them give a nod to Oakland with "The Town" emblazoned on these jerseys. 

    Here's hoping these stick around after the Warriors move across the bay, because they're honestly better than anything the team has worn in a long time.

1. Milwaukee Bucks Association (white)

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Inspired by a classic and finished with bold, modern features, the Bucks' Association uniforms are truly a masterpiece.

    The block letters and numbers pop off the white base, and the all-green piping on the side of the jersey mixed with Mecca-inspired features (matching "M" letters) on the shorts complete the look. And as if these uniforms weren't dope enough already, the Bucks came through with an awesome local sponsorship: a Harley Davidson logo on the left breast.

    Bonus points for making the name "Antetokounmpo" look so good (and fit) on the back.