The Cleveland Cavaliers unveiled their new uniforms Tuesday, officially signaling the arrival of the post-LeBron James, new-look Cavs in more ways than one.
I don’t know if it’s marketing, or just figuring out what actually works and then leaving well enough alone, but teams always seem to be searching for a new image.
OK, it’s marketing.
I liked what the Cavs wore the past seven years. Those uniforms marked a return to the team’s original colors of wine and gold, and they had just the right amount of pizazz to match the youth and vitality earmarked by LeBron’s arrival with the team.
Now the Cavs have simplified things. No flash, just block lettering and deep, simple colors. In fact, the precise wine and gold hues that adorn these uniforms hearken back to the original colors worn by the team in the 1970s.
I’m OK with it. The new look was planned long before James decided to leave, so the changeover is a coincidence, and not just a reaction to his departure. These things have to be approved long in advance, anyway, or else you’d have NBA teams changing things up so often they’d look like the University of Oregon football squad.
(Lest you disagree, think of the Ducks' bizarre jerseys with the wings on them. Then think of the same thing worn by an NBA team. Then remind yourself that the Atlanta Hawks did exactly that a few years ago, after somebody in the front office apparently said, “Nice, let’s wear them.”)
You know what all this uniform changing makes me think of?
The Chicago Bulls.
Go check ’em out. White. Black. Red. “BULLS.” A number. A name. That snorting bull logo.
What’s to change? They won six titles in eight years wearing those simple, understated uniforms, and they’re still wearing them.
The San Antonio Spurs have done pretty much the same thing. Not much has changed with their look over the years. All they’ve done in them is win.
What matters is the team that’s wearing the uniforms.
It’s widely expected that the Cavaliers team that will take the court this fall will not be as talented as their predecessors. A new uniform won’t change that.
However, there’s something about it that just seems right. Coincidence or not, it’s providential that the Cavs will sport a new look in 2010.
They have a new coach in Byron Scott. He’s been successful before. He never got the time of day from James, let alone the chance to coach him.
So be it. He appears determined to buck the odds and keep a winner in Cleveland, and something about his hiring just feels right.
They have a team full of guys who knew LeBron as a teammate and friend, yet were the forgotten ones in the whole “Decision” debacle. They, as much as anyone, felt the sting of his departure. Limited though they may be, they will take the court this season with something to prove.
Finally, they have a fanbase that desperately needs to move on. Not only does a new look let them do that, but let’s face it—they need something to replace the old jerseys that they burned, converted to rags, gave to charity, or otherwise disposed of.
It was interesting to read this week about LeBron’s comments in an upcoming GQ magazine article, in which he reportedly says he could see himself returning to the Cavaliers someday if the city and fans would have him.
I suppose anything’s possible, but I can’t imagine the fans ever welcoming back someone who now admits he grew up “hating” their city.
No, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see Mr. James in the wine and gold again.
The new uniforms represent a new look for a new era. Let the games begin.
(For a slide show ranking the team's previous uniforms, published last spring to commemorate the team's 40th anniversary, click here.)