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Fashion Forward: The 10 Best (and Worst) Jerseys in NBA History

John FrielAnalyst IAugust 19, 2010

Fashion Forward: The 10 Best (and Worst) Jerseys in NBA History

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    With the release of a number of new designs from various teams, we break out our fashionable side and critique just what we think of the new jersey designs or color scheme. In the case of the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves, they did well with their new look.

    In the case of the Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers, not so much.

    Over the past 60 years, the current 30 NBA teams have put out a number of jersey designs that have corresponded with each decade. For example, the 1990's took a strange route when many teams wanted a giant eyesore for a jersey by placing their logo on the front, and sometimes the back as well, of the jersey.

    For the NBA, there can be a thin line between classy and gawdy and while many teams got it right on the money when it comes down to making a jersey that a team is proud to wear, there can be others that are making their super stars and multi-millionaire's look ridiculous on a nightly basis.

    While many teams keep a classy, clean look like the Boston Celtics green and white, the Los Angeles Lakers gold and purple, or the New York Knicks classic blue and orange. Other teams go through jersey after jersey until they find the right design that's easy on the eyes.

    The players themselves are what we want to see when watching an The players themselves are what we want to see when watching an NBA game, but it sometimes could be the jersey that they're wearing that could also add to the entertainment value.

10a. Best: The 1960-67 Los Angeles Lakers

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    The Los Angeles Lakers are known for the gold and purple. They have christened the colors as their own for over 40 years now with legend after legend donning the same color scheme and essentially, the same design.

    For a brief moment in the 1960's however, the Los Angeles Lakers were far from wearing purple and gold. Instead, they were in favor of a blue and white color scheme and their name in on the front of the jersey in script.

    While Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wore the standard gold and purple jerseys for their entire career, other Laker legends in Jerry West and Elgin Baylor wore the home white's and the road blue's for the latter part of their career.

    It's also interesting to note that the Los Angeles Lakers rivalry with the Boston Celtics began in these jerseys when the two fought it out nearly every season throughout the '60's.

10b. Worst: The 2004-07 Atlanta Hawks

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    The Atlanta Hawks have had a plethora of jersey designs and color schemes over the past 50 years with most of them being sight's to see. A few seasons ago though, they decided to go a different route and felt the need to look like a hot dog.

    While these were only the alternate jersey, the yellow, red, and black nightmares were an eye sore and it's no wonder why they only lasted three years before the team decided to go out and get a complete makeover with an entirely new color scheme and design.

    The jerseys today are actually worth seeing, but the mustard-yellow monsters that the Hawks used to wear will never be forgotten.

     

9a. Best: The 1971-72 Atlanta Hawks

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    If you even attempted to make a jersey with the colors being mint green, blue, and white, there would be a 99% chance of an atrocity to no end's of the earth.

    In the year of 1971 however, the Hawks attempted to make it work and completed the impossible by making it into one of the most revolutionary jerseys in NBA history. It's only disappointing that they didn't wear them any longer aside from a few retro night's.

    The mint green jerseys could be a stretch for some critics to consider worth seeing, but the jerseys with the blue and green reversed, ends any thought of these jerseys being anything less than extraordinary.

9b. Worst: The 2005-06 Sacramento Kings

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    The Sacramento Kings have always been different when it came to their jerseys. They were one of the first teams to feature a players last name under the number, rather than over it and were also the first teams to use purple and black as a color scheme.

    While the jerseys in the past have been hit or miss, none fell harder than the jerseys they wore back in 2005. Gold and purple only works for the Los Angeles Lakers, but the Kings obviously thought they could show off a different side as well by putting out these royal looking jerseys.

    The look they appeared to be going for was a sense of royalty, but all everyone else got from it was a sense of remorse and sickness. The purple stands out way too much on the gold and it turns it into one of the gawdiest jerseys in NBA history.

8a. Best: The 1995-2002 Seattle Supersonics

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    The 1990's were a strange time for NBA jerseys. Many teams had truly awful designs that were far from anything but classy and featured a mess of designs on one piece of fabric that never got a chance to look somewhat decent.

    The Seattle Supersonics did not make that mistake. They went the same route of making a dynamic, large design on the jersey, but kept it simple  with the name and only a little extra added. The color scheme was also a very nice touch with a darker green than what was previously seen and a touch of amber that had not been seen.

    While Seattle no longer has a team, the Oklahoma City Thunder couldn't keep the legacy of respectable looking jersey's alive. They should refute back to the green and red considering the Sonics saw some of their best seasons in them.

8b. Worst: The 2003-04 Dallas Mavericks

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    What's the first thing that comes to mind when you see that metallic shine?

    If it was either a robot or a factory, then you guessed what nearly everyone else who saw this jersey thought as well. These jerseys are legendary for being bad considering they only lasted one game to much avail from the Dallas faithful.

    Many teams have silver in their color scheme, but none have this robotic, metallic silver that the Mavericks attempted to pull off in the 2003-'04 season. Dallas wised up thanks to the reception of the Mavericks fans and intelligently scrapped this metallic trash.

7a. Best: The 1990-99 Indiana Pacers

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    If you think the jerseys the Indiana Pacers wore for the latter part of the 1990's resemble an outfit that a track and field athlete would wear, then you would be right because Florence Griffith Joyner designed the jerseys that Reggie Miller and Pacers donned for nearly a decade.

    Indiana saw most of their post season runs in these jerseys and saw some of the most memorable games in the jersey as well with Reggie vs. Spike Lee being one of the most unforgettable.

    The sleek, simple design was one of the cleanest looks of the 1990's as the Pacers had some of their most impressive seasons in these track outfit's.

7b. Worst: The 1991-94 Philadelphia 76ers

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    Like I said before, the 1990's were a strange time.

    Prior to this abomination to mankind, the Philadelphia 76ers carried one of the cleanest looking jerseys in the NBA with a simple red, white, and blue design. Then the team decided to throw some stars on and then they decided to just mash it all together in to one big hodgepodge of colors that would even make Uncle Sam sick.

    It's such a ridiculous concept for a jersey that it can even pass off as an "it's so ugly, it's nice" type of uniform, but it's still a huge stretch considering just how big of a mess it is with the absurd number of stars and the way the Philadelphia 76ers nameplate comes to you like you're supposed to be wearing 3D glasses to get the true image out of it.

6a. Best: The 1998-2003 Orlando Magic

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    The pinstripes the Orlando Magic debuted with reminded us a little too much of the New York Yankees with nearly the same color scheme, but when they dropped the pinstripes for stars, it featured an entirely new, exuberant Magic jersey.

    They kept the original Magic nameplate on the front, but used a silky, shiny touch to the material of the jerseys while littering it with stars that contrast with the color of the jersey.

    The black and white striping on the sides only adds to how much this jersey stands out. As an owner of this jersey, I personally believe it is one of the most well-designed jerseys in NBA history.

6b. Worst: The 1995-2001 Vancouver Grizzlies

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    Just a tacky mess and I'm not even talking about the pajamas Scottie Pippen is wearing in the background.

    The first impression is always a lasting impression is completely true after seeing the abomination's the expansion Vancouver Grizzlies put on in their few years of being an NBA team. The giant grizzly bear on the shorts is a little too much and the teal should never be put on any NBA teams jersey.

    The piping around the sleeves is a different touch with a unique design, but this jersey is too tacky to even begin describing.

    I used the white jersey because the road teal is just too awful for words.

5a. Best: 2009-10 Portland Trail Blazers

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    The most recent of the jersey's on this list features the new gems put out by the Portland Trail Blazers. The red jersey features a jump-off of the retro 1970's Blazers unifors, while the white utilizes the team's nickname in Rip City on the front rather than the name of the team.

    With the white jersey using Rip City, it becomes only the second other jersey to use a name not having to deal with the city or the actual nickname being placed on a jersey.

    A classy touch by the Blazers bringing these back to life and breaking out one of the nicest jerseys in the game today.

5b. Worst: The 1996-2001 Detroit Pistons

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    Oh, we get it! Horsepower! Since Detroit is the automotive mecca of the United States and the Pistons play there, let's put a giant, flaming horse equipped with flaming tailpipes on a dark teal jersey!

    Just an all-around mess of a jersey that literally features a horse with it's mane on fire on top of the Pistons logo that has tail pipe's blowing out fire coming out of each 'S' in the name.

    Like I stated before, teal should never be any team's primary color and it shouldn't be slathered over an entire jersey.

4a. Best: The 1973-85 Washington Bullets

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    While some might consider it a near resemblance to the American flag, overall the Washington Bullets had one of the most unique jersey's in NBA history.

    Horizontal stripes on any jersey is a stretch, but somehow the Bullets pulled it off when they brought out these gems in the early 1970's during their move to Landover, Maryland and keeping them until the late-1980's.

    A few interesting notes about the jersey is that they are the only team with a lowercase letter to start their nickname and that this jersey has become one of the most coveted to a jersey collector and retails now on the Mitchell & Ness website to over $400.

4b. Worst: The 1995-99 Toronto Raptors

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    For some reason, Canada couldn't get it right when it came down to NBA jerseys.

    Seriously, how are you supposed to intimidate an opponent or even be taken seriously when you're wearing that. You have Jurassic Park, complete with a basketball jersey and sneakers, dribbling a basketball and clearly not paying attention to what's going on in front of him.

    The Raptors best season with this jersey was their second season when they won 30 games. Should we blame their disappointing seasons on the jersey?

    Absolutely.

3a. Best: The 1993-2000 Phoenix Suns

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    It's unbelievable, but somehow the Phoenix Suns made a terrific looking jersey out of the colors purple, orange, white, and black.

    Used for most of the 1990's, the Suns jersey featured a basketball streaming across the right side of the front  before exploding into a fireball on the left side. It all seems like too much, but it actually worked out and is one of the most well-designed jerseys in NBA history.

    The placement of the letters and numbers are interesting too with each of them surrounding the stream of fire that the basketball has left behind on the jersey.

    Who knew that Charles Barkley could pull off purple?

3b. Worst: The 2004-09 Charlotte Bobcats

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    Ever hear of overdoing it?

    I own this jersey as well and the only thing I can say about it is: Halloween.

    This nightmare looks like a pumpkin with a blue outline and Charlotte and a few numbers carved into it. While some teams such as the Phoenix Suns have used a light orange in the past, the Charlotte Bobcats used a bright exuberant orange on an extremely shiny material.

    Thankfully now, the Bobcats have retired these abominations for good and have switched to something a little more subtle with pinstripes, but the original jerseys are so loud that I can still hear them.

2a. Best: The 1962-71 Golden State Warriors

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    "It had the bridge on the front with the words The City and a cable car on the back... Imagine, we’re in New York, people from New York consider it the Big Apple, The City...I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but nobody wanted to be the first to take the jacket off. Finally, we take the jackets off and I’ll be darned if we don’t get a standing ovation from the New York crowd."

    A direct quote from former Warrior Al Attles on the jersey when he first wore it.

    The first team feature something other than only a nickname and a number on the front of the jersey, the Golden State Warriors got it perfect when they came out in 1962 with these on. The front features the Golden Gate Bridge, while the back features an actual trolley with the number placed inside of it.

    The jersey is phenomenal and was revolutionary as one of the first teams to go off on a tangent while designing their jersey.

2b. Worst: The 1981-93 Denver Nuggets

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    It's exactly what you see. It's a jersey complete with a rainbow going across the entire uniform. Even the shorts are just as colorful as the jersey itself.

    For some reason, the city of Denver was in a rainbow haze for most of the 1980's and designed this monstrosity of colors. It features the Denver skyline with a very exuberant rainbow surrounding the entire city. The number and team name in yellow somehow makes this more of an eye sore than it already is.

    It's just an overall ridiculous design and I don't know how you can exactly size up an opponent when you're basically wearing an extremely colorful rainbow.

    The logo also looks like tetris.

1a. Best: The 1979-96 Utah Jazz

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    No team put the right color scheme and design than what the Utah Jazz had going for nearly two decades.

    It's simple with the Utah Jazz nameplate and the players' number on the jersey, but the blue and yellow color scheme coupled with the musical note in place of the 'J', it makes this jersey stand out among the some of the best in NBA history.

    They can thank the city of New Orleans for the original design, but the city of Utah would perfect it by adding their name to the front of the jersey. They would move away from this design for the next decade, but are now bringing it back after revealing their jerseys for the 2010-'11 season which bear a striking resemblance to the classics.

1b. Worst: The 1997-98 Milwaukee Bucks

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    This jersey is by and far the most ridiculous looking thing the NBA has ever set it's sights on. We can understand the Houston Rockets having a small rocket on their jersey in the 1990's and even the Toronto Raptors having a giant dinosaur on their jersey, but this is just awful.

    If they would have left how it was with the purple and green, then it would have actually been considered a decent looking jersey, but then they decided to throw on Bambi to take up the entire front of the jersey.

    The buck looks confused as well, I can't tell if it's either mad or about to get hit by a car. No NBA team should have to wear something along these lines again and something like this should also never be created or replicated.

    Fear the Deer has come a long way.

Bonus. Best All-Star Jersey: 1992

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    The 1991 NBA All-Star game was one to remember mainly for the fact that Magic Johnson had returned to grace an NBA court after announcing his retirement prior to the start of the season.

    Magic would have an exceptional game and would go on to win MVP honors. Aside from that, the jerseys were phenomenal. While they do bear a resemblance to something that someone in the movie 'Tron' would wear, it's still an interesting look and a classy jersey.

    The design on the shorts to match only adds to how astounding this All-Star jersey looks. No other All-Star uniform has even come close to the overall design of it.

Worst All-Star Jersey: 1996

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    Yes, that is a pepper on the jersey. Yes, those jerseys are also teal with a pepper on it.

    No comment.

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