Skip to content

Making the NBA Just About the Uni Colors


. . .

I got a lot of problems with you people! And now you’re gonna hear about it!

I kid, of course — Happy Festivus, everyone!

Got an interesting E-mail from Thomas Fiers, who raised several interesting points during a discussion of NBA uniforms and uniform colors. You can click on the splash photo above for a larger view, and following this post, I’ll run a slideshow of each of his proposals. What are those? Well…see for yourself:

. . .

NBA Project 2000
By Thomas Fiers

Hello Uni Watch!

I’m a French Houston Rockets fan (among other interests like Japanese soccer and uniform collecting), and I wanted to share with you a little work I made based on a single question: You know better than me that in their history, nearly all the NBA teams changed their visual identity several times, so I wondered what would be to me the “perfect league composition of colors and uniforms”? Meaning, if the teams had to get an identity they would never change again, what would I want them to look like. So I made a summary.

It’s not about design, those uniforms don’t have any. They just have parts for a secondary color (collar and cuffs), and most of the time a piping for the third color. So it’s just about the team colors, the number of uniforms, the script they should show, and what colors they should have. Also, to keep it simple, I limited the team colors to a maximum of three, and drew the uniforms without any anti-aliasing because it is meant to be used by everybody to make their own “perfect league” and compare. Several questions helped me during the process and were the reflection of what I see as priorities in the choice of colors and uniforms:

• How can each team have a unique color scheme (mainly, how can you distinguish all the potential red & blue teams)?
• Should the teams show their nickname or their city name at home and away? My vision is a bit radical on this one, as I think all the teams should show their nickname at home, and the city name on away games.
• What function should have the alternate jerseys ? A wink to the past, or using one of the team minor colors as a main color?
• Should a team even have an alternate jersey?
• Should a particular jersey have all the team colors on it, or are only two of them just fine?
• Should a team sport its actual colors or the ones it had in the past that are more representative, or a mix of both?

My result shows quite a variety in the main colors used, some of them still underused compared to others but nothing scandalous:

√ White: 30
√ Black: 11
√ Red: 10
√ Blue: 8
√ Navy: 6
√ Yellow: 6
√ Purple: 4
√ Green: 3
√ Light Blue: 3
√ Teal: 2
√ Aqua: 1
√ Orange: 1
√ Redcurrant: 1
√ Grey: 1

Maybe too much black uniforms, but half of them are used as alternate uniforms. The main differences with the actual league are:

• The Bulls’ road jersey is showing “Chicago” again, the Lakers’ purple jersey is showing “Los Angeles”. New York gets a “Knicks” wordmark on the home jersey, New Orleans a “Hornets” wordmark again (while they still can). “Pacers” on Indiana’s home jersey, “Milwaukee” on the Bucks’ road jersey, you get the idea.
• Memphis is getting back its older scheme of black, teal and red. It makes the team stand out.
• Phoenix keeps purple as a main color while leaving space for black again (I know they’re going to ditch the purple to replace it by black and I think it’s sad).
• The Nets get a blue alternate uniform based on their New York Nets days.
• The Rockets get a navy blue alternate. With pinstripes or not, I don’t want to tell. The one they had is my all time favorite (I even customized an authentic one with my name, crazy I know) but the rest of the world hates it. Also, they’re using the yellow color again, with silver.
• The Pistons are getting back their teal uniform as an alternate. Mainly to make the team less boring and create a diversion from their results.
• The Timberwolves and the Mavericks are putting green back on their uniforms.
• The Bobcats get back an orange uniform as an alternate. The only one in the whole league.
• The Heat stops using 27 different uniforms per season.
• The Raptors use purple again. As for the big red Raptor… well that’s another story I think.
• The Sixers include black in their scheme, in memory of their Iverson days, and get an alternate uniform in that same color with a “76ers” wordmark.
• The Warriors get a yellow “The City” uniform again, as an alternative.
• The Hawks stop using that anonymous red & navy scheme they used for two seasons only after they were based in Atlanta, and are mixing it with their more unique red and yellow past identity.
• The Magic swaps the road and alternate jerseys, as the fans seem to like the black one more than the blue one since they started in the NBA with a black road jersey too. With Shaq in it.
• Boston, New York and Washington don’t need alternate jerseys.
• Denver, Cleveland, Washington, Sacramento and Portland already know what’s good for them, nothing to say.

I hope you’ll enjoy that little analysis. Feel free to share it with other uni-fans or to comment it, I’d be more than interested to have your opinion on it. Keep up the good work, I love what you do!

. . .

. . .

Thanks, Thomas. Very interesting ideas and concepts. Readers?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

all sport uni tweaks

Uni Tweaks Concepts

We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.

So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.

Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.

Like the colorizations, I’m going to run these as inline pics — click on each one to enlarge.

And so, lets begin:


First up is Tanner Karp, who has a concept for the Jacksonville team…when they move west:

Jaguars - Tanner Karp

Hey Phil,

I created a uni concept for the Jaguars if they end up moving to Los Angeles.

Thanks, Tanner Karp.

. . .

Next up is Josh Escobar, with a modern throwback for the G-Men:

1932 Giants - Josh Escobar


Here’s a picture I drew of the 1932 giants uniforms if it was to be worn today. It would love to see uniforms like these. I’m a big fan of throwbacks, no matter how ugly or unusual. I’m also a big fan of this website, I check it almost everyday.

Joshua Escobar

. . .

We close today with Kiechel Valentine, with a Roxpos crossover:

rox expos - Kiechel Valentine


I’ve always really liked the Montreal Expos uniforms of the 80’s. Here is a Colorado Rockies version of that design.
Thanks for giving them a look Phil.

Kiechel Valentine
Cheyenne, WY

. . .

And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Stirrup Friday

Stirrup Fridays…

Because we love the stirrup here at Uni Watch, this section is devoted to those of us who sport the beautiful hose on Fridays — a trend popularized many years ago by Robert P. Marshall, III. For many of us, it’s become a bit of an obsession, but a harmless one — a reflection of our times. Where we once had Friday ties, which has been replaced by Casual Friday — we now have Stirrup Fridays. It’s an endearingly simple concept — no matter where you work (or even if you don’t) — break out a fresh pair of rups to compliment (or clash with) your Friday attire.

Comrade is in holiday mode this week, so this is just going to be a sampling of your ruppage for the week.

. . . . .

Terence Kearns - Holiday Rups

Terence Kearns:


Went to a holiday party last night and had to show my cheer through my lower leg styling! Those are Comrade Marshall’s Irish offerings with a pair of smart holiday red sanis to make the look complete!

Sweet TeaEmmQue

. . .

trachten packers2 - John Korbo

John Korbol:


Here I am in “multi-culti” mode with my Packers stirrups combined with my genuine Austrian knickers, pausing outside the local Packers bar (The Park) in Burbank, California. Even though the Packers haven’t worn striped socks on the field for years (aside from the occasional throw-backs), these stirrups are instantly recognizable by any pro football fan.

John Korbol

. . .

James Poisso - OOPS

James Poisso:


Today’s stirrup is the “oops” SF Oaks stirrups Commrade Robert recently got in. Since today is the first day of winter, and the world did not end, I am wearing these Christmas stirrups a little early.

Side note – We’ve been in Islip since Sunday night. I don’t know if it is possable or not to grab a beer. Figuring out my schedule when we are on the island is never easy.


. . .

John Kimmerlein-Oaks

John K:


For the Stirrup Friday just before Christmas, I went with the Oaks. You just know that the North Pole Nine wore this style, and looked good doing it. And they work so well for holiday occasions for we folks south of the Arctic Circle, also. Worn over dark socks, the dark green is the perfect stealth-but-festive option for office parties, family gatherings, and even Christmas Eve Mass, or so I am told.

A few notes on the props. The sled also has ties to classic baseball: I pulled it off the bottom of Lake Otsego in Cooperstown as a kid. Really! We added the wood and it has had a place under the tree ever since.

And I admit to staging some “ornaments” received over the years that may be of interest to Uni Watch folks. I will neither confirm nor deny if they actually hang on our tree, or what position of prominence (or how well-hidden) they may be.


. . .

And here’s one that Comrade and I had inadvertently forgotten about, but it certainly deserves to be shown:

Bob Andrews - 1968

Bob Andrews:

Hi Phil,

I wasn’t sure if I should send this to you or Robert directly. This is my youngest brother Jack posing in his Little League uni in our backyard in the summer of 1968.

-Bob Andrews

And, finally — one just for the Holidays, from the movie, “A Christmas Story,” (as interpreted by Pete Woychick), who notes, “It’s a major award”:

major_award - Pete Woychick

. . .

And that ends today’s look at Stirrup Friday — all of you who participate, send me your pics and a brief (~50 words) description of their relevance, and I’ll run ’em here on Saturday (and sometimes Sunday too!).

And now a few words from the leader of the Stirrup Nation, Comrade Robert Marshall. Comrade?

. . .

Merry Christmas comrades,

The revolution is shut down until December 30th for the holiday, but how could we not show a shot of John’s Christmas look, this weeks winner. I will start giving away stirrups again in the new year, any entries we receive will be run then.

from each according his stirrvp, to each according his strype,
Robert Marshall

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Screen Shot 2012-06-24 at 10.32.36 PM

“Benchies” first appeared at U-W in 2008, and has been a Saturday & Sunday feature here for the past two years.

. . . . .

Now, in the best tradition of the Wise Guys bearing gifts…

12-23-12 s-Peace

Click to enlarge

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Shipwreck vs. Skipper 12-23

Shipwreck vs. Skipper

Heading into yesterday’s games, Skipper held a 3-1 vs. 1-3 lead. Shipwreck needed a big day to keep close. Both had picked ECU (getting 6 points) while Shipwreck selected UW (getting 5.5) while Skipper took Boise. Shipwreck got the one game on which they chose different teams, with a cover by Washington. Skipper took a big “Oh-Fer” losing both games, while Shipwreck went 1-1. Lets take a look at the games:

. . .

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Things looked good for the ECU Pirates, who looked downright spiffy in their purple/white/white combo, taking on the UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, whose uniforms suffer from a host of maladies, including those awful Russell shoulder treatments (which are actually are sublimated Fleur de Lis’, but you can’t see that unless you’re 2 feet away), pinstripe jersey panels and really awful number fonts. After sprinting out to a 21-point lead, ULL looked unstoppable, but ECU fought back, eventually tying the game. Sadly, the uni gods did not shine their light favorably upon the Pirates, who fell 43-34. With a spread of 6 points, it wasn’t quite enough to cover. Shipwreck: 1-4; Skipper 3-2

. . .

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas: Out in sin city, the uni gods had a very tough call to make: Should they favor a team who goes BFBS over another team who goes BFBS? And, would either team be fool enough to actually wear BFBS in their bowl game? Sadly, yes. Boise State, who have gray and orange tops and bottoms at their disposal, crossed the uni overseers and inexplicably went black/blue/black. It was a close game, with Boise leading most of the way until a late field goal put Washington up with about 2 minutes to play. The Broncos themselves marched back down the field and kicked a field goal of their own — and they would hold on by the final score of 28-26. Now, the Huskies didn’t exactly look great, sporting gold lids, white tops, and purple stripeless pants, socks & shoes, but at least they wore school colors. And while the uni gods did not reward them with a win, they did give them the much more important cover. Shipwreck 2-4; Skipper 3-3.

. . .

There you have it kids. Lots of games this week before the big championship week kicking off next Monday. Can either Shipwreck or Skipper even go .500 this bowl season? Stay tuned.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

That’s all for this fine Sunday. So, in the spirit of Red Rider and George Bailey…

It's A Wonderful Stirrup - Robert Marshall

Merry Rupmas to all, and to all a Good Night!

Now, on to the feats of strength.

. . .

“With all the different teams wearing memorials and the such, I wish they would just write ‘GUN CONTROL, GODDAMNIT!’ where the team name should be. Wearing the ‘Sandy Hook’ logo is so reactive, but I guess it makes people feel better.”

Comments (56)

    Agree with the atl hawks change back to red and yellow. How on earth do you change to red white and blue overnight? So generic looking now and not their identity at all .

    Perhaps because the Hawks’ original colors when they arrived in Atlanta (and while they were in St. Louis) were red, white, and navy.

    Well, considering that we’re not worrying about specific wordmarks or number fonts or anything like that… overall I agree with most of your color choices. There are a few oddities to me though – why is white a Knicks color but not a Pistons color? Why list Miami as red, white & yellow, and have them wear a black uniform? Call ’em black, red & white. I also think there’s something about having the apparently forced white uniform which throws things a bit off. I mean, if your goal is to give each team a unique color scheme, and you decide that the Nuggets should be light blue, gold and navy – then their 3 uniforms should be… wait for it… light blue, gold, and navy.

    I agree with everything The Jeff writes.

    It’s a great, intriguing effort. My main quibble is the teal alternate for the Pistons.

    Teal is to the Pistons as that summer when I sported a middle part and feathered bangs is to me: it happened. There is ample photographic evidence to prove that it happened. That doesn’t make it any less embarrassing.

    Really interesting column today I love that Giants throwback, great drawing Josh. Very interesting color guide for the NBA Thomas. If I had to pick a nit it would be that the “teal” Memphis & Detroit are assigned is more of a “jade”, I always associate teal with the old Charlotte Hornets.

    Josh: That’s a great idea for a throwback! It makes me think of Northwestern’s current jersey, which I’m a huge fan, but the helmet and pants just makes it it’s own unique thing. Great job!

    Thomas: That’s a great concept. I may not be totally on board with your color choices, but I, too, think teams should “OWN” a color scheme.

    Agree with most of the color choices, and also with The Jeff. If teams can “own” a certain color combination, it makes the need for a mandatory home white uni superfluous. I always hated it when for example the Blazers play in Chicago and their road unis match perfectly with the United Center floor…shouldn’t the home team be mirrored on the court design? Let’s do away with the mandatory whites and leave them to the teams which specifically include white on their color identities.

    PS. Minor nitpick, I think OKC’s secondary color should be orange, not red.

    Hello Uni Watch and thanks for posting my little work ! I’m glad to see that most people here agree with most of my point. There are nitpicks but that also is the point of the chole thing as I started this work to compare with other people’s own vision on the subject, and what I read here is very interesting !

    About the white jerseys, well, I always thought it was an official rule (gold being allowed for the Lakers since it’s a light color close to white), but maybe it isn’t ? The Jeff told about the Nuggets, I guess they would also be allowed to wear gold at home, but it’s not really representative of their history in my opinion.

    JJ, the OKC’s secondary colour on the picture is red-ish orange, but maybe it can look like red depending on the screens, since it’s very close to red indeed.

    Anyway, thanks for your comments, and thanks again to Phil for including it in his column !

    About the white jerseys, well, I always thought it was an official rule (gold being allowed for the Lakers since it’s a light color close to white), but maybe it isn’t ?

    It may still be a rule, but it’s getting harder to tell with the NBA lately… you’ve had a few color vs color games here & there with teams wearing “road” alts at home, and there’s the whole red vs green xmas day thing of the past few years as well.

    Heck, the mere fact that the Lakers get to have an exception made for them says to me that any other team could also get permission to wear a non-white uniform if they really wanted push the issue.

    How about every team instituting one primary uniform (instead of home and road)? Color vs color isn’t something to be avoided anymore. And each team would have an alternate to be used when visiting other teams with the same primary uniform base color. Just throwing the idea out there.

    Well, I don’t think the NBA would break a tradition like this if it doesn’t bring more money. But otherwise, yes, it could be done. It’s basically how it’s done in soccer.

    Thomas I LOVE what you’ve done. NBA uniforms are soo out of tune, too bland if you ask me.
    And that throwback Giants is AWSOME! Nike should look into getting this out next year.

    The Raptors wear red for Canada, switching back to the God awful purple won’t win them any fans – most of whom want them to change their name back to the classic Toronto Huskies.

    “With all the different teams wearing memorials and the such, I wish they would just write ‘GUN CONTROL, GODDAMNIT!’ where the team name should be. Wearing the ‘Sandy Hook’ logo is so reactive, but I guess it makes people feel better.”

    Putting something about gun control on jerseys isn’t reactive either? Good one.

    At the risk of putting words in the original commenter’s mouth, I think what he meant is that one approach is simply a feel-good measure, while the other approach (if it ever took place) would be more proactive because it would be trying to create actual changes in public policy. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to agree with the policy change, but he’s right that it would be a more proactive approach.

    “the other approach (if it ever took place) would be trying to create actual changes in public policy.”


    yeah, but why would we ever want to do that?

    It is amazing at how good these SIMPLE color schemes and word marks make each NBA uniform look. Great idea!

    Agreed. I enjoyed viewing the slide show.


    I think Alternative uniforms are the bane of the Athletic Aesthetic world. It’s just so much excess and makes no sense. Tertiary colors highlighted and randomly introduced colors belong on the merchandise taking up space in team stores.

    I’m on board, as well. I thought he did a good overall job. Naturally, we’ll all find something we disagree with, but who would reasonably expect to agree with all 30 teams? A good discussion starter.

    I want to see that Giants sketch in Cleveland Brown and Orange. If CLE does a re-design, Josh’s drawing should be the template. Bravo!

    Love the Giants throwback except for the design break in the side panels. Would be better if it wrapped all the way around.

    The black Timberwolves uni is an epic fail. Minny needs to completely eradicate black. Green alternate or no alternate.

    As a TWolves fan since the team was 1st announced I like their current set and color combo. Ironically before they got their team I was a Celtics fan so I guess I’ve gone from one extreme to another. Better than seeing them go full time retro or throwback though. That’s still the fad I hate just as much as this stupid cammo/matte helmet fascination.

    I like the Giants throw back uni. I’ve always wondered when, not if, the Toronto Raptors will change their name/colors. It’s not like they have a great history that they are beholden to preserving. One last question since I’ve already jumped from football to basketball, now baseball. All this talk about the HOF and one of the candidates is Lee Smith, I’m not a Smith fan…he’s kind of nondescript to me, stats wise. All these articles mention Rollie Fingers. My question is for the older fans. Why is Rollie Fingers a slam dunk HOFer? Second ballot induction. Nothing really jumps out at me. Any insight?

    Smith earned most of his saves in the LaRussa era, in which you come in at the start of the 9th with a 2- or 3-run lead and just pitch one inning. Big cushion, no fire to put out.

    Fingers earned his saves by coming in during 8th or even the 7th, usually with runners on the bases. He truly SAVED games. He also anchored Oakland’s early-1970s dynasty, helped pitch the Brewers to the 1982 pennant, won a Cy Young Award (still very rare for reliever), etc., etc. Along with Bruce Sutter, he was one of the two dominant relievers of his era.

    Also: The mustache didn’t hurt.

    LOVE the simple NBA uniforms. I’d be curious to see how that same concept would work applied to other leagues. Giants throwbacks are also awesome.

    Jags concept is meh. I appreciate the return to the old number font, but the “LAJ” logo looks like it could be the logo for some generic hotel chain… and those pants, the less said about them, the better.

    just got back in, and i KNEW you’d leave a comment to that effect…was saying it to myself in the restaurant where the game was on

    A few days late but congrats on getting the cast off, Paul! That whole process made me think of my dad. He broke his left arm a few years back while being a good Samaritan. It still gives him a lot of trouble but he was a lot older than you are when it happened and when given the choice of 2 PT’s to go to he picked the wrong one which did more harm than good. Good luck with yours! Hopefully you’ll be back to 100% soon!

    What is the website people get their stirrups from? I am not having any luck searching for a good one.

    I really liked those NBA unis; the only one I would tweak is Milwaukee’s green-on-red alternate. Perhaps some white outline of the names and numbers would make my eyes hurt less. Other than that, very well done!

    I like the suggestions by and large, but two things:

    1: As a Suns fan, I heartily applaud your decision to minimize the orange and maximize the purple. The Suns are the Purple Gang from Phoenix, dammit, and no amount of cynical marketing should change that. Accordingly, though, I think the black alternative jersey is unnecessary. I hated it when they unleashed it in ’95(ish) almost as much as I hate today’s orange ‘PHX’ monstrosity (so we’re representing the airport???). Besides that inclusion, the Suns suggestion is perfect.

    2: A few teams are a bit too heavy with the light green. The Bucks, I think, deserve a deeper green; the Grizz look way better with their seven-shades-of-blue assortment, and I have no idea why you gave the Pistons an alternative jersey that looks like the girl from The Exorcist expelled pea soup all over the uniforms.


    PS: Nice job reconciling the fact that the Thunder (who really shouldn’t exist anyway but I hated the Sonics as a kid so I really shouldn’t care that much anyway) have seventeen different colors.

Comments are closed.