Ranking Every NBA Team's 2021 'Earned Edition' Jersey

Sean Highkin@highkinFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2021

Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Because NBA teams didn't have enough uniforms already, Nike has introduced another set for just over half the teams.

As they've done in recent years, the 16 teams that made the playoffs last year have unveiled what are being called "Earned" edition jerseys to go along with their regular home and road (or, in official parlance, "Association" and "Icon," respectively), along with the "Statement" third alternate and the City Editions, as well as whatever throwbacks any of these teams may have.

Below is the definitive and objectively correct ranking of the 16 "Earned" editions, which were unveiled Wednesday.


16. Los Angeles Clippers

LA Clippers @LAClippers

The fine details. 🔬 https://t.co/xHHxVXwqxI

The Clippers' base uniforms were already among the worst in the league. The only thing that could have made them worse is if they made them gray, which is exactly what they did here.


15. Orlando Magic

Orlando Magic @OrlandoMagic

🔹Unveiling the 2020-21 @Nike Earned Edition uniforms - exclusively available to the teams who earned a spot in the 2020 NBA Playoffs 🔹 https://t.co/afVVAnQ6rb


14. Utah Jazz

utahjazz @utahjazz

📸 https://t.co/8QkZvEFCL3


13. Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers @sixers

𝐄𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐢𝐭𝐲. 🧵🔔 https://t.co/74QL4sH420


12. Denver Nuggets

Denver Nuggets @nuggets

Don't worry, we've got your homescreen covered. #WallpaperWednesday https://t.co/NZxeSm5RXW

No less than a quarter of the teams decided to go with no name on the front of the jersey, which is almost never good. They look like rec-league jerseys or warm-up tank tops. It's a shame, because the Magic, Jazz, 76ers and Nuggets jerseys have great color schemes.

The Nuggets, in particular, paid homage to their ABA-era logo. Those would be top-five if they would have just put their team name on it.


11. Portland Trail Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers @trailblazers

Debuting tomorrow ⚪️⚫️ https://t.co/UJzCtzYbC9

Gray is never a good look, but unlike the Clippers, the Blazers are at least starting from a better jersey design.


10. Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

Earned for the city. Our jersey selection is complete & debuting on-court tonight. @chime | #MFFL https://t.co/iJ2Drhs2bq

These aren't bad, but they're way too similar to Dallas' regular jerseys. They're basically identical to their normal navy blue uniforms, except they say "Mavs" instead of "Mavericks" on the front.

Maybe more than any other in the league, this franchise needs a complete redesign—preferably something closer to their green/blue/white uniforms and logos in the late '80s and early '90s. 


9. Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets @HoustonRockets

🧵 New threads debuting March 14th! https://t.co/jZAwX4YYsQ

These are basically just the Rockets' existing black alternates, but with red lettering instead of white. Again, not bad but not exciting. The Rockets are another franchise that could use a full rebrand.


8. Oklahoma City Thunder

OKC THUNDER @okcthunder

Debuting on court tomorrow. 🧵 https://t.co/XDhqqmKg45

The Thunder have still never had a truly great uniform since moving to Oklahoma City in 2008, but at least these ones don't have any orange on them.


7. Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

In this borough, nothing's given. A closer look at our Earned Edition fits 🔎 https://t.co/oQHnJx6cnL

These are based on the New York City subway system, which doesn't inspire a lot of good vibes or positive feelings in people, but it's great that they carried over the chevron pattern from this year's polarizing City Edition jerseys.


6. Indiana Pacers

Indiana Pacers @Pacers

😍 https://t.co/pPBtscFDth

It's basically impossible to mess up the Pacers' yellow pinstriped look from the early-to-mid 2000s. Like everything else associated with this franchise, they know what they're good at and don't stray too far from it here.


5. Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics @celtics

New threads for the second half 🔥 #EarnedNotGiven https://t.co/0sYg6BNyaq

With the caveat that the Celtics should really never wear any other jerseys besides their classic green and white, these are probably the best alternates they've ever come up with. The neon accents make the regular green of the lettering pop, and they don't try to shoehorn in too much white or gold.


4. Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers

Purple, Gold, and Gray. Check out the details of the #LakeShow Earned Edition Uniform. https://t.co/uDHGFeSvuq

Going back to the 2013-14 season, the Lakers have occasionally worked a black alternate into their rotation, and it's usually been pretty good. Their regular purple jerseys would be great, but they're ruined by needless black side panels. Strangely, though, the inverse works well here.


3. Miami Heat

Will Manso @WillManso

Pics have leaked all over social media, but they’re finally here. The Miami Heat will debut these Earned Edition uniforms tomorrow night. Why “Trophy Gold” as the color? This is the story of how these unique uniforms came to be. https://t.co/srOEkKLxQe https://t.co/XvySC32Z6L

The official term for this shade is "Trophy Gold." It's close enough to their regular jerseys that it makes sense but different enough to be interesting. The Heat usually do this stuff pretty well (see: the incredible Miami Vice run, the various monochrome jerseys during the LeBron era), and this is no exception.


2. Milwaukee Bucks

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

We didn't forget about your homescreen. #WallpaperWednesday https://t.co/QYSTPI2gZg

The Bucks should just make these their new permanent green road jerseys. "Bucks" on the front is a lot cleaner than "Milwaukee," and the deer-antler pattern on the side is fantastic.


1. Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors @Raptors

Inspired by the OGs. The old school, whose day one belief carried us to where we are today. Earned Edition - Available for pre-sale Mar 18 at 10:00am https://t.co/1Kl4t84H4r

The opposite of the Clippers. The Raptors took what were already some of the best uniforms in the league and added purple—a throwback to their early days. Everything about these is great.