Articles about the NBA on this blog have been few and far between, first because the NBA has mainly been a one-team show and second because my favorite team, the Orlando Magic, have done absolutely nothing of relevance the past seven years (the highlight on the calendar is the ping pong ball draft lottery). While I don’t believe that the NBA is the best league of the Big Four or even the best basketball association (March Madness, anyone?), the NBA is arguably the coolest league and a huge part of it is the awesome uniforms its players wear. NBA jerseys are more than just jerseys; they’re fashion statements. They’re also important- I picked the Magic as my favorite team because they rocked a great pinstripe look and won a lot of playoff games. To honor the NBA uniform, I’m gonna pick the best threads each team has worn. The aesthetic of the jersey, cultural relevance, historical significance and wow factor will be taken into account. If the teams wore these looks, I wouldn’t be able to peel my eyes from the TV screen!
Brooklyn Nets– The Nets’ recent move to Brooklyn netted immediate dividends for their on-court identity, as the Nets now rock a sleek black and white look. The best is this dark gray alternate, which features stars lining the side (always a plus).
Boston Celtics– As far as Celtics uniforms go, this alternate is a recent addition but it is one of my favorite looks in the league. This was the uniform that the C’s wore when they won the first NBA game I ever saw, in the Finals against the Lakers, and my first NBA jersey was a Kevin Garnett version of this jersey. The Celtic green is a classic look and the contrast of black numbers evolves this iconic set into the next century.
New York Knicks– The team known as the Knickerbockers has retained its iconic blue and orange look for decades, so nearly every look is equal in my eyes. The best is their current look, which has a lighter blue with white outlines that are pleasing to look at.
Philadelphia 76ers– Allen Iverson elevated this look to prominence and even today legions of NBA fans adorn his number three. This set minimizes the mediocre royal blue color characteristic of most Sixer uniforms. Even 76ers star and reigning Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons campaigned to bring this look back to the court.
Toronto Raptors– The Raptors, based off the popular Jurassic Park movie, are one of the coolest team names in the sport, so it should be no surprise that their threads are top-tier. The gold alternates popularized by Drake are some of the best uniforms currently used in the NBA today, but the best Raptors look is one of their first. The purple jersey features a cartoon velociraptor dribbling a basketball, along with a menacing team wordmark and pinstripes in the back. Bold, but it works well and holds up decades after the team’s 1995 creation.
Chicago Bulls– The Bulls are one of the NBA’s premier franchises and the team’s Jordan era looks are among the most iconic. The best is the look that the Bulls used in MJ’s first years, featuring a cursive ‘Chicago’ on the front and a beautiful mix of red, white and black. Bring it back.
Cleveland Cavaliers– This look was the one that the Cavaliers wore when LeBron first brought the franchise to league-wide relevance and it is one of the great forgotten sets of all-time. The dark red and gold is regal and sharp and fit for a King.
Detroit Pistons– I didn’t even know that the Pistons wore teal until a few weeks ago and they need to bring them back. The flaming horse atop the word mark is menacing and awesome , the colors mesh and the set just looks fun.
Indiana Pacers– Indiana has adopted a yellow and navy look for most of its history and its latest update is its best. The white uniform has a unique team workmark that wraps around the number and the yellow stripes along the sides add a modern feel to an otherwise mediocre visual identity.
Milwaukee Bucks- Fear the deer. After looking at this black alternate, I definitely do. The Bucks recently updated their logos and uniforms and the best thing to come out of it is this jersey, which features the cream and green Buck and incorporates ‘M’ from Milwaukee. The colors are far from conventional but stand out (in a good way) in contrast to black. One of the league’s ugliest teams is now one of its sharpest.
Atlanta Hawks- The Hawks primarily wore this unique blue and green design in the Pistol Pete days of the 70s and it is just the look the team needs now to break out of the uniform purgatory it now finds itself in. The Atlanta workmark is sleek, the green stripe is fashionable and there is nothing to hate about this look. Would definitely be an upgrade over the garish red and lime green set the team currently employs.
Charlotte Hornets– An elite uniform for one of the league’s best looking teams. The black and teal of Charlotte’s alternates is stunning, especially with the ‘Buzz City’ wordmark. A uniform that makes me want to watch a Hornets game.
Miami Heat- The pink Miami Vice alternate that the Heat just added is fashionable and is sure to be a popular pick among NBA fanatics, but I’ll go with this rarely worn alternate from the franchise’s Big Three days. The use of red is over-the-top and perfect, while the white outlines stand out and make the uniform as hot as the team’s name.
Orlando Magic- My favorite uniform in the NBA. This jersey was one reason that I decided to follow the Magic and I still regularly wear my Dwight Howard Magic uniform. The workmark is fun and works well with the pinstripes and magical blue color. You can’t go wrong with any of the uniforms the Magic have worn, but this is my personal favorite.
Washington Wizards– Just looking at the American flag on the side is enough to sell me on this look. Nothing to hate about this alternate.
Denver Nuggets– The Carmelo Anthony-era Nuggets jerseys give the team an iconic look with its sky blue and bright yellow colors. Unfortunately, Denver underwent a drastic wardrobe change to a navy and maroon look that is one of the league’s worst.
Minnesota Timberwolves- The best part of this jersey is the side, but the team’s ‘Wolves’ workmark and black-on-white contrast also work well. Too bad the T-Wolves moved on and left this one in the past.
Oklahoma City Thunder- Reason number one to bring the SuperSonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder) back to Seattle. The white arch on this jersey is a fantastic feature and the color scheme stands out.
Portland Trail Blazers- Rip City! Alright, the Trail Blazers are not an especially visually impressive franchise, but the Rip City alternates are exciting. The slick Rip City wordmark and round numbering fit well with the team’s identity.
Utah Jazz- The iconic mountain look from the team’s glory days still holds up. They’re much better than the team’s current blue, green and yellow scheme and make great use of light blue and purple.
Golden State Warriors– The trolley car on the back is the best part of Golden State’s throwback jersey, though the bright yellow color and clean wordmark also add a lot. Honestly, any jersey looks respectable when Steph Curry is draining threes in them.
Los Angeles Clippers– The Clips are an underwhelming franchise with underwhelming jerseys, so I’ll go with this baby blue alternate that harkens back to their days as the Buffalo Braves. It’s a nice set that does nothing to offend the viewers and looked great when Chris Paul was lobbing alley-oops to Blake Griffin. Sadly, those days, and the use of this uniform, is gone.
Los Angeles Lakers– It’s a classic and regal look that is a perfect fit for the Lakers’ ‘Showtime’ moniker. Purple and yellow is an iconic color scheme for one of sports’ premier franchises and even though I hate the team, I can’t hate this look.
Phoenix Suns- Who would have thought that purple and orange is a great look, but the Suns have rocked it for decades. Their most recent update is the best yet, with a fearsome wordmark and sharp numbering. If Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton can return the Suns to relevance, this scheme should catch the attention across the league.
Sacramento Kings– The checkerboard pattern that the Kings wore primarily in the early 2000s fits their name perfectly. Add in the purple and black colors and this is one of the best throwback unis in the NBA.
Dallas Mavericks– The Mavs have really only had two uniform sets in their history and I’ll go with their most recent, the one that they used when delivering their first NBA title. The royal blue, navy blue, and silver work well together and make the team fit in well in Dallas. Will always be synonymous with the great Dirk Nowitzki.
Houston Rockets– Another great and fitting team name that has an appropriately sweet uniform set. The shade of red is appealing and works well with the secondary gray color. The Rockets are never an eyesore.
Memphis Grizzlies– The Grizzlies’ rare MLK day alternate jersey is unbelievably great, though its use as an everyday uniform is probably unnecessary. The teal highlight, interesting side pattern, and eye-catching wordmark made this alternate worth the effort.
New Orleans Pelicans– I’m going back to the Pelicans’ days as the Hornets, when the team was led by a young floor general by the name of Chris Paul. The Hornets’ color scheme of greenish-teal, yellow, and purple may seem like a mess, but the jerseys were among the league’s best when they were around.
San Antonio Spurs- I’m closing with a classy look from a top-tier NBA franchise. The San Antonio Spurs aren’t flashy with their black and silver colors, but like their team on the court, they get the job done. The use of the primary logo makes this alternate the best of the bunch, but any of the team’s uniforms could get this honor.