Jerseys are the thread of the NBA—literally and figuratively.
Jerseys are made of team colors and logos, names and numbers; they are what every NBA fan identifies with.
NBA jerseys have evolved from functional, plain and ugly wool shirts to silky and stylish. They are now a bigger part of the game than Jon Naismith or even the NBA inventors ever dreamed.
NBA jersey sales are now the barometer we use to determine the league’s most popular players (1. Kobe Bryant, 2. LeBron James, 3. Dwight Howard) and it’s got to be amazing to be one of those guys who have their name and number on the back of thousands, if not millions of fans.
As a player ages, so do his jerseys, and they leave a lasting, tangible evidence of one-time greatness. Likewise, owning a vintage jersey gives a fan proof of how long they’ve followed a team, and just how diehard they are.
Nowadays, a fan is in the minority if they don’t have a jersey on while attending an NBA game. But the reach of the NBA doesn’t stop there.
NBA jerseys are now used as a fashion statement as well; remember when everyone in rap videos was wearing a jersey a few years ago? They have become an integral part of US popular culture, and the league has even extended its reach to Europe and China with their jersey sales.
There’s no doubt that jerseys are important to the NBA, but this list has been assembled to determine what teams are always looking their best on the hardwood, and what teams should burn their jerseys and start from scratch.
I selected the best looking jersey each team wears currently, including home/road and any throwbacks they’ve used in 2009-10.
So, without further ado, here’s the list of every team’s jersey, starting with the ones that would make you poke your own eyes out, and ending with the best the league has to offer.
Washington Wizards: First of all, naming a team after a mystical made-up character is just wrong. Second, their regular jerseys are terrible. The “W” looks like a wizard in his gown, and the colors are putrid. But the worst are the gold ones they wear at times.
Do they have a show on the Las Vegas strip or do they play basketball? Glitter and basketball just don’t mix.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Why does Minnesota’s basketball team have what resemble Christmas trees on the color of their jerseys? Plus, their colors are ugly all together and the lettering is too pointy.
Even the players don’t want to show up in those things; no wonder it’s difficult to win.
New Jersey Nets: The Nets are terrible, and their jerseys are worse.
I mean, who uses gray for a jersey color? Every team uses black and white, and they choose gray. Plus, their logo is silly, there’s not even a net in it any more!
Sacramento Kings: Ok, these are a little better than they used to be, when the Kings had silver all over their jerseys, but they are still bad. They’re plain, and the only thing that resembles a king is the tiny crown that dots the “i”.
They should have used Olde English for the “K” at least; instead these just get looked over, much like the team as of late.
Detroit Pistons: Like the Kings, the Pistons jerseys are much better than they used to be, and like Sacramento, these jerseys are just too plain.
Detroit, get your game up. (And I’m not just talking about their jersey designs.)
Oklahoma City Thunder: OK, see here, the thunder is a goofy mascot to root for. I’m sure they have epic thunderstorms in Oklahoma, but couldn’t they come up with something more creative than that?
On to their logo, it’s a shield with two color streaks in the background. They should have some dark, ominous looking clouds with just the hint of lightning peeking through.
Plus, the jersey is just too plain overall. I see colors, with the plainest typography, but where are the designs?
Milwaukee Bucks: Oh, the Bucks. This one is laughable.
Most animal mascots are fierce predators, but deer and the like are omnivores, plant eaters.
Oh, and the jerseys are just plain disgusting.
Bright green and red assure every night is Christmas night in Milwaukee.
San Antonio Spurs: Come on, you root for a team whose mascot is a piece of metal on a boot?
PS. Black and gray as primary colors = ugly. Every team uses at least one of those; be more original.
Phoenix Suns: It’s hot in Phoenix, we get it. So you made the sun into a basketball? Not cool.
Shouldn’t they be named the swimming pools or something cool to help their citizens forget about the heat for a little while?
And their jerseys are hideous, with the overwhelming gray stripes up the sides.
Los Angeles Clippers: Are they supposed to be ships? Or are they talking about toenail clippers?
It’s hard to tell because their logo is the team name with a basketball behind it.
Come on, Donald Sterling, spend some money and get the players something to wear that they’ll be proud of!
Indiana Pacers: Usually jerseys with pinstripes are saucy, but these are too busy. Plus, the yellow is too flashy and almost sparkly a la Washington.
Memphis Grizzlies: These would be much nicer if there weren’t any white on the sides. Plus, why is there blue piping inside the letters and numbers?
Charlotte Bobcats: The lettering and numbers are slanted forward, which is reminiscent of a bobcat leaping forward, kind of cool. But the gray/silver accents simply look tacky.
Philadelphia 76ers: Their new old logo is sick, but their jerseys are just too damn simple. They almost look like practice jerseys at the neighborhood rec center.
Toronto Raptors: The stripes down the side would be much better if they were straight, and those two thick silver stripes don’t help, either.
Dallas Mavericks: What can I say, I love blue. The Blue on blue is very nice, although again with the silver inside the numbers. These would be that much better with some white pinstripes.
Portland Trailblazers: The Blazers jerseys are sweet, with their throwback style. Although, it would be nice to see an alternate come into play every once in a while.
Chicago Bulls: Sure, everyone loved the Bulls’ jerseys back in the 90s, but they are a bit played out by now. When was the last time Chicago was a threat in the playoffs? Maybe if they revamped the jerseys it would reinvigorate the team.
Atlanta Hawks: Atlanta has the coolest numbers, as the light lines create texture well. But, dark blue and bright red don’t go together very well, and the white lines are almost distracting.
Utah Jazz: Again, the dark blue with the baby blue looks amazing. Though, the lettering is awfully bold and boring.
Boston Celtics: The Cs jerseys are so classic they’re nostalgic. How can a franchise that impressive ever change what the players wear? Sure, they just have green and white, but it’s a simplistic masterpiece.
New York Knicks: Again, classic styling leads to their spot so high on the list. Orange and blue go together magically; these are timelessly updated.
Houston Rockets: Houston’s regular jerseys are blah, but the throwbacks they’ve worn this year are sweet. The red and yellow play off each other well, and the classic lettering is great to tie it all together.
New Orleans Hornets: Usually I don’t like teal, but the Hornets jerseys are spot on. Yellow, much wider pinstripes give New Orleans their own unique take and great look.
Miami Heat: The dominant black with red and a bit of yellow accents really work well. The lettering and overall design give the jersey an overall modern look.
Golden State Warriors: The regular jerseys the Warriors wear are putrid, bad enough to land them in the bottom five.
But, they are saved by the awesome throwbacks they wear on rare occasions. The “City” jerseys are awesome because they represent where the team plays, or used to at least.
The Golden Gate Bridge on the front and trolley on the back create a visual masterpiece, especially with that showy yellow.
Orlando Magic: Remember Penny Hardaway and when Shaq played in Orlando with him? These jerseys are from those days, and they are amazing. This is the one time that silver is acceptable, as the thin spaced stripes are a flashback to the early 90s.
Cleveland Cavaliers: I have to break it to all those Cavs fans out there, their regular jerseys are UGLY. But, those throwbacks they’ve been wearing are sick. The royal blue with orange is nice to the eyes, and the “v” in Cavs as the net is pure genius.
Los Angeles Lakers: The bright yellow screams showtime and the dark purple is cool and collected like a Kobe Bryant buzzer beater. Really, the only thing I can say bad about the jerseys is that they are overhyped, which is why they get No. 2 on the list.
Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets powder blue road jerseys are great, but their navy blue ones are immaculate. The navy and powder blue complement each other perfectly, and the yellow, cursive lettering sets the jersey off well.
Personally, I love almost every NBA jersey, but there had to be some lines drawn. This is a lighthearted piece, and many will disagree.
So, where do you think your team’s jersey should rank on this list? Higher? Lower?
Disclaimer: Rich is color-blind and may have mixed up a color or two. Please excuse this and let him know if he should change a color in the piece.
Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist and an NBA featured columnist on bleacherreport.com. He also writes for examiner.com and NFLTouchdown.com. Follow Rich on twitter/richkurt.