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Do Opposing Players Really Care About LeBron’s Headband?

By Mike Chamernik

The Cavs beat the Bulls last night to tie their playoff series at one game apiece. But the big news from a Uni Watch perspective was that LeBron James wore a headband for the first time in nearly two months. As you may recall, James said he stopped wearing the headband back in March to fit in with his teammates. He now says he went back to it to change his mojo.

Reporters picked up on this. Buried within the notes section of this game report is the following: “Not everyone was thrilled with James’ fashion choice. ‘I don’t care about no headband,’ [Bulls guard Jimmy] Butler said. ‘He’s a great player, headband or not.'” That means a reporter asked Butler — a guy who just lost big to a rival in a playoff game — “What do you think about LeBron wearing a headband again?”

I have some issues with that. If you follow NBA beat writers on Twitter or listen to basketball scribes on podcasts, you hear a lot about the declining access they get to players. As a media member myself, and as a basketball fan who wants NBA news, I find that troublesome. But when they do get access, they ask opposing players about LeBron’s headband? It seems incredibly dumb and lazy to try to create some sort of narrative around that. And besides, what did they think Butler would say? I doubt he even noticed, much less cared. The reporters in this case tried to make a story from nothing and wasted valuable access with the players. We all love uniforms and stuff like that here, but this whole thing bugs me.


Paul here. Mike raises some interesting points. I have two primary thoughts to add:

• LeBron James is, for better or worse, one of those larger-than-life figures who distort everything they touch. On the one hand, the continuing attention paid to his headband (or lack thereof) seems silly; on the other hand, fans seem to have a bottomless appetite for information about him, so the media machine continues to feed that beast.

• It’s one thing to write about the headband, but I agree with Mike that asking an opponent about the headband seems like a bit much. In the past I’ve always been in favor of other media outlets providing uni-centric coverage, because I thought it helped expand awareness of the uni-verse, helped further legitimize what I’m trying to do with Uni Watch, etc., but maybe asking an opposing player about LeBron’s headband could have the opposite effect, making us all look silly.


• • • • •

Cell phone case contest run-off: Matt Beahan’s stirrup-based design was the runaway winner in yesterday’s voting for the Uni Watch cell phone case design contest. But there was also significant write-in support for two of the non-finalists: Alex Giobbi’s luggage-sticker concept (several people said it would look even better without the red type across the case, and I agree) and Aaron Peak’s mesh fabric treatment.

So I’ve decided to have a run-off vote today between those three designs. Here they are side-by-side (click to enlarge):

And now I’ll ask you to cast your ballot in the run-off voting that will determine the final winner. No write-in votes this time — choose from among the three options shown above:

I’m voting for… free polls

Thanks to everyone for their enthusiasm and feedback on this project — good stuff.

• • • • •

Throwing back to the first throwbacks: A big milestone is coming up on July 11, which will mark the 25th anniversary of the date when the White Sox wore 1917 throwbacks. That is widely recognized as the North American sports world’s first turn-back-the-clock game.

My question is this: When did the other leagues follow the Chisox’s lead? Do we know when the first throwback games took place in the NFL, NHL, and NBA? What about college football and basketball?

If you know the answers to these questions, do tell. Thanks.

• • • • •

PermaRec update: The Manhattan Trade School student shown at right was classified as “Porto Rican” [sic] and described as “lazy and impudent” but also praised for being a “good writer.” Get the full scoop over on Permanent Record.

• • • • •

Uni Watch News Ticker
By Mike Chamernik

Baseball News: Here’s Phil’s latest Sporting News piece, which is a ranking of American League uniforms. ”¦ The Pirates have a nice team history display on the wall outside of their clubhouse (from Jerry Wolper). … The Royals will wear Negro League throwbacks on May 17. … The White Sox put Blackhawks and Bulls jerseys on the statues around Sox Park (from Ryan Lindemann). … Also, White Sox 1B Jose Abreu wore a Blackhawks jersey to play Shoot the Puck. The jersey was customized, too. … “Russell High School (Kansas) experimented with its new baseball uniforms for 2015,” says David Steinle. “This is what you get when you mix the Astros’ tequila sunrise with the Blue Jays’ split lettering and numbering font.” … Texas’s Kempner High School wears Hawaiian shirt-patterned jerseys (from Tyler Evans). … A Texas HS playoff baseball matchup has teams using the Royals and Philadelphia Eagles’ logos (from Dwight Ternes). … The Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels will wear Jumanji uniforms in June (from Matt Anderson). … Though he still uses Mizuno gear, Ichiro now uses brown bats with the Marlins instead of the jet black bats he used previously. Also, Ichiro used to wear Asics spikes, but now he wears a brand that neither Thomas F. Erichsen nor I can identify. … Recent Mariners call-up Chris Taylor has some great hosiery (from Andrew Rader). … Thanks to a fabric fold, mild comedy ensued when these A’s teammates stood next to each other. That’s Marcus Semien and Billy Burns. … Here’s an interesting piece on baseball players who wear No. 69. That reminds me, I was talking with a coworker who played football in high school (at T.F. South in Illinois), and only two uni numbers were made unavailable: No. 20, retired for current NFL RB Pierre Thomas, and No. 69. It was taken out of circulation because the coach didn’t enjoy sophomoric humor. ”¦ The Mets wore their standard blue caps with the orange “NY” logo last night, but reliever Alex Torres’s padding halo had the outlined logo that goes with their alternate home cap. ”¦ Cubs P Jon Lester’s undershirt had a black body and colored sleeves last night. Turns out he did the same thing with the Red Sox and A’s (fromGregg Elkin and Moses Massena). ”¦ Mets P Jacob deGrom showed what he would look like without his usual long hair.

NFL and College Football News: Here’s what it would look like if NFL teams switched colors with various opponents (from Brinke). … New uniforms for Elon University. … Not sure if we’ve had this here before, but new uniforms for Duke (from Brian Walsh).

Hockey News: The Rockford Ice Hogs took a uniform-based shot at their AHL playoff opponent, the Grand Rapids Griffins (from Dave Soline). … Here’s an illustrated history of the adventures of the Stanley Cup.

Soccer News: A few teams had their new unis leaked recently, including Fulham, Chesterfield FC, Pachuca CF and the Wolverhampton Wanderers (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary, AS Roma has a new uniform and stadium sponsor, and PSV Eindhoven, a club switching to Umbro kits next season, will wear “farewell” kits in honor Nike, the club’s supplier for the last 20 years.

NBA News: ESPN and TNT are using the Wizards’ former logo. To be fair, the Wizards only changed their logo a few weeks ago, and while most teams roll out new designs after a season ends, the Wiz made their changes effective immediately for the playoffs. … Pope Francis met with the Globetrotters, and he was given a personalized No. 90 Globetrotters jersey. “I didn’t get the significance of the number,” says David Teigland. “It seems, according to the press release, that it’s because of their 90th anniversary tour. Seems a little cynical to use the pope for promotional purposes, no?” … Not sure what reminded me of this, but one of my favorite possessions as a kid was a Dutch Boy paint promotional sheet, like this one, that listed and showed the colors for all the NBA teams.

Grab Bag: New logos for Green Bay Youth Rugby. … Someone is pretty skilled at drawing the ESPN logo by hand. … Andrew Hoenig was looking through a book of rejected cartoons from The New Yorker and found one that we might enjoy. … Can you name the seven Big Four sports teams that have purple as a team color? (Thanks, Patrick O’Neil.)

Comments (82)

    FYI Poll doesn’t work. This is the message:

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    I don’t have a problem with a writer asking Butler about LeBron’s headband, since you never know when you’ll get an interesting answer. When the answer is reasonable but uninteresting, like Butler’s, it doesn’t have to get into print.

    Re: Lebrons Headband question.

    Like a commenter mentioned earlier, you get an interesting answer and it’s good, typical answer and it’s not really worth printing.

    But ultimately the most annoying thing is that these players continually get peppered with the same mundane questions over and over and over. I was watching the interviews after the game with the Capitals last night.

    “How are you guys excelling at winning these one goal games?”

    “Well, we really wish we had a 7 or 8 goal lead but you know, we know how to play hockey and we’ve won a lot of games already we have experience and stuff, so we’ve just done the same things every other team has done to protect one goal leads.”

    “What’s it going to take to beat these guys in game 5?”

    “Well, we need to score more goals than them. If they score 1 goal, we need to score 2 or more. If they score 4, we need to score 5 or more.”

    (No that didn’t happen but I wish it would once in a while.)

    That would be kinda awesome.

    I’d love to see a few players pointing out how stupid some of these questions are with blatant sarcastic answers.

    I’m with you, Tom. I really don’t see how the players and coaches put up with it as much as they do. We need more Gregg Popoviches!

    But when they do get access, they ask opposing players about LeBron’s headband? It seems incredibly dumb and lazy to try and create some narrative around that.
    A large chunk of sports reporting is incredibly dumb and lazy. You could get rid of every sideline interview and post-game press conference and I wouldn’t mind one bit. It’s either the same old questions that have been asked since before I went to school, or, in the search for something new, they think too much and end up asking dumb questions.

    …on the other hand, fans seem to have a bottomless appetite for information about him, so the media machine continues to feed that beast.
    Just because there isn’t a groundswell of complaints along the lines of “Take that fluff piece out of my paper (or off my TV) or I’m cancelling my subscription!”…doesn’t mean readers/viewers demand this sort of stuff. They probably just put up with it because nothing else is on. Yes, some fans will soak up anything, but I think they’re a very small minority. Most of us just want the game. We already know know what adjustments you need to make in the second half (you need to score more points than the other team), what was going through your head when you hit that game winning shot (you were happy, right?), and when the game’s over we’re on to something else. More likely, the media machine is trying to think of ways to continue feeding its bloated self, when it should consider going on a diet.

    This whole critique could be leveled at the entire electronic newsmedia, save perhaps for NPR. (In America, that is. There’s terrific television and radio journalism being done in Canada and the UK.) Stories – narratives – and thus interviews are framed almost exclusively in terms of personalities and personal conflict. It’s annoying when it happens in sports journalism, of course, but it’s maddening when it dominates actually important topics like politics, business, and pubic policy. A symptom of it is the “gaffe” coverage, in which it’s covered as a shocking blunder to have said something that might offend somebody. But politics and economics are based on the scarcity of resources, so anything meaningful or substantive will by definition upset somebody. And that style of coverage is at the heart of asking LeBron’s opponents about his headband.

    Uni-centric sports coverage is great, when the questions are worthwhile.

    How about asking football players why so many of them clamor for color-on-same-color jersey/pants combinations?

    Or inquiring about what it was like to play through this mess:


    That Dutch Boy key promo sheet has always bothered me because it does not represent the exact paint scheme. It would’ve been better if it did. The Lakers and Magic, for instance. It did foreshadow the MSG one.

    I had one as a kid (I think it’s still buried away somewhere) that was a little closer to the teams’ actual colors, from what I remember. The linked pic is the only Dutch Boy NBA sheet I found on the internet, and I see your point: one team, I guess the Lakers, has hot pink, black and gold as colors.

    Jon – was abotu to post the same thing. I guess I shoulda been on the site earlier in the day!

    Fairly certain that the NY Jets wearing a “Super Bowl III” throwback in 1993 – 1 year ahead of the League-wide 1994 75th Anniversary throwbacks – was the first concerted attempt at an NFL throwback. Too bad they ruined it by using a green helmet with a reverse-color schemed logo, no helmet stripes, and a black facemask.

    NHL was no later than 1991-92, when “Original Six” teams wore throwbacks as part of the league’s 75th anniversary celebration.

    Institutionally, the NBA began doing so during the 2001-02 season.
    I suspect individual franchises did one-offs before that, though.

    I’m pretty sure that for the Cavs’ final regular season home game at the Richfield Coliseum (April 22, 1994), they and the Bullets wore 1976 throwbacks.

    Officially, the NBA started throwback games for its 50th anniversary in ’96-’97, but they actually started in 1992. Pretty sure the first one was between the Sixers & Warriors.

    Got a full list of games/dates and some images that I’ll send to Paul as soon as I can find them.

    I think you’re right about the ’93 Jets.


    There are prior examples of an NFL team returning their full-time uniform to an earlier look after having gone to something different for a while (Green Bay went back and forth on some combos, decades ago) but that’s not the same as having a deliberate single-game throwback.

    The logo wasn’t reversed; it was just given a white outline and link.

    The link were similar, but had white stripes on the helmets and a different shoulder patch on the jerseys.

    Interestingly, both the 1993 and 1994 throwbacks had serif NOB lettering, even though the 1968 jerseys had sans-serif NOBs and the Jet had been using sans-serif NOBs since at least 1980. The team mixed-and-matched serif and sans-serif in the late ’70s, on both jersey designs. The black-trimmed jerseys had black-trimmed sans-serif NOBs from 1990-94, then in 1995 the team started using the serif NOBs, without the black outline, on its regular jerseys. They’re still using the same font today.

    Also interestingly, the Giants had serif NOBs from 1980-94, used sans-serif NOBs on the NFL-75 throwbacks, and switched to sans-serif NOBs on their regular jerseys in 1995.

    It was also on his Twitter tweets (or whatever you call them) from the Falcons page?? His page?? He must’ve mocked it up himself or had someone do it for him.


    I guess his photoshopper ran out of time or something. It’s a hell of a lot harder to do the jersey than it is to fix the facemask.

    Here’s what it would look like if NFL teams switched colors with various opponents

    What the hell is that guy’s reasoning for the color combinations he picked? They certainly aren’t rivalries or consistently geographically close or… anything.

    I stopped looking when I saw he had done the Jets in the Eagles colors. Oooh, a different shade of green…

    Not only is he using the helmeted Dolphin (understandable, I guess), but the old Cardinals logo, as well. I wonder whether these were intentional choices, or if this guy is some “designer”-type who doesn’t actually watch sports.

    Predictably, most of these color-swaps are pointless and lame. But for some reason, this one amuses me…


    Wanted to pass along a cool photo of the 1910 Colgate (WI) baseball team. Colgate is a zip code in the Village of Richfield, WI about 30 minutes NW of Milwaukee.
    Link to photo: link

    Story: link

    Just wanted to thank you guys for the support yesterday. I really hope I win today, and if I do, I’ll be happy to redesign the phone case with the stencil removed.

    Jon Lester is simply wearing a cutoff black undershirt over the red shirt. It isn’t one shirt.

    I said red because I was thinking of him with the sox, but obviously any of the colors apply.

    RE: #69
    The Giants haven’t issued the #69 in Spring Training for at least the last 5 years so I guess someone didn’t want to deal with those kind of jokes either.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Cubs give out 69 in spring training either. They go well into the 70s for the prospects and then have the spring-only coaches and staff beyond that, plus a bunch of NNOB “extra” jerseys in the 80s and 90s that can presumably be assigned on an ad-hoc basis. So it’s not like they’ve never needed to go as high as 69. I think they’re avoiding it on purpose too.

    And also from the 69 article:

    “Ray Fink, a Yankee Stadium bat boy in that era, told Sporting News that he remembered the team having a rule, dictated by ownership, that no player wear a number higher than 55.”

    God bless the Yankees, or at least the 1990s Yankees. How can anyone call them the Evil Empire when they have such a great sense of numerical aesthetics?

    Seb Lester is the artist who did the ESPN logo by hand. He’s a great calligrapher and you can see him do many other logos and amazing calligraphic designs on his Instagram account. @seblester

    Ah, glad you found that. I knew I followed the guy on Instagram but couldn’t find his name. I was going to post this too. Too bad the credit has been removed from the original video.

    The cleats Ichiro is wearing I think are a pair of Boombah cleats, a company whose footwear Hanley Ramirez once used while playing for the Marlins

    Russell (Kansas) HS unis? I love them, which does sorta tag me as a youth of the 70s.

    I know its a key item here at UW, but I just don’t think I can put that stirrup case on my phone. I would absolutely buy the luggage sticker case, sans the red script.

    Wanted to add this comment to the poll, but I kept getting “internal server error” when I submitted it, so I’ll do it here:

    I voted for the stirrup design in the first round (and didn’t even look at the write-in candidates), and I still love it, but it is kind of baseball-centric. While baseball is far and away my favorite sport, Peak’s design incorporating the U-W logo transcends any one sport, and it looks great, so I voted for “yellow mesh” this time.

    looks like Ichiro’s spikes are “BeMoLo” brand by a company called World Wing Enterprises (note: in Japanese) link

    For a culture obsessed with technology and aesthetic beauty, Japanese web design is still very much stuck in the late 90s.

    Um, that Duke jersey looks a lot like last year’s: link

    And the ones in the background look like the previous uniforms. Haven’t seen any announcement from Duke about any new uniforms.

    You are correct. The most recent announcement out there about new Duke football uniforms is from July of last year:


    And the tweet upon which the Ticker entry is based isn’t even about new uniforms. It’s about a recruit announcing his commitment by putting on a Duke jersey.

    The jerseys last year were to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 1989 ACC Championship team. We are supposed to be returning to the jerseys we had in 2013 next season.

    Is there any possibility that LeBron’s headband actually makes it easier for teammates (and opponents) to pick him out on the court? It sure does for TV viewers like me. I suppose since it works for both teammates and opponents, there wouldn’t be any competitive advantage or disadvantage.

    What made me think of this is the fact that Arsenal’s iconic red-with-white-sleeves shirt originated because Herbert Chapman, their manager in the 30s, thought the white sleeves made it easier for the team to pick each other out on the field.


    The notable, interesting news is that their opponent is the Yankees… and that means the Yanks will be wearing, presumably, their “Black Yankees” Negro League throwbacks they wore in Detroit in the mid-’90’s!

    Always enjoy when the Yankees switch it up a bit with the road uniforms and everyone goes high-cuffed!! Looks like we’ll see that on the 17th!!

    “that means the Yanks will be wearing, presumably, their “Black Yankees” Negro League throwbacks they wore in Detroit in the mid-’90’s!”


    Do you know this for a fact or are you just speculating?

    I just received my copy of Gary Cieradkowski’s “The League of Outsider Baseball” — it’s magnificent. Beautiful, vibrant illustrations, interesting and engaging text, and a gorgeous overall design: easily the best, most entertaining baseball book I’ve seen in a long, long time. Highly, highly recommended!

    In the past I’ve always been in favor of other media outlets providing uni-centric coverage, because I thought it helped expand awareness of the uni-verse, helped further legitimize what I’m trying to do with Uni Watch, etc., but maybe asking an opposing player about LeBron’s headband could have the opposite effect, making us all look silly.

    Dead-on, could not agree more here with Paul.

    Also, it seems disingenuous to leave Butler’s quote in the game story without any context, as if he just mentioned LBJ’s headband during a stream of conscious diatribe. I hope readers can infer that he was asked a question, and he provided an answer.

    A lot of questions, including the one posed to Butler, are purposefully bad, just to get a quote, any quote, to prove what the article’s angle is. I understand that. However, writers should pick better angles to their stories, and ask better questions!

    (Obviously, easier said than done, considering the insane deadlines and amounts of media competition writers have to deal with. That’s the real issue here, but I’ve already ranted enough).

    It didn’t miss the Sacramento Kings. They’re one of the seven teams in the quiz. And the Jazz don’t wear purple anymore. Their current colors are navy blue, yellow, green, and gray.


    I’m pretty sure the first NHL throwbacks were worn during the 1991-92 season, the 75th Anniversary, by the link link whenever they link each other.

    Don’t know when the first game was or which teams played.

    My recollection is that it was the Leafs and Habs to start the season.

    The game was in Montreal, and the Leafs actually dressed in 1920s clothing and took the train to the game. That bit sticks in my head because Wendel Clark was the captain and he looked more at home in 1920s clothing than 1990s.

    October 3, 1991. Colour on colour.


    According to hockey reference, the season started with three original six matchups (Leafs-Habs, Rangers-Bruins and Wings-Black Hawks) on opening night, and no other games. I’d forgotten about the other two. I guess any of those three matchups could be considered “first”.

    This might be a reach, but maybe we can go all the way back to 1970-71 and the Toronto Maple Leafs? Before the season began, the Leafs changed uniforms from the ones they wore from the 1967 Playoffs thru the 1969-70 season to the more corporate looking unis they wore till 1991-92.

    In the beginning of November, the Leafs embarked on a four game road trip, and – as I understand – at the request of the new Vancouver Canucks, wore the 1969-70 style blue unis at Detroit, Los Angeles, California and Vancouver. I have seen pics of games with the Seals and Canucks to confirm the “throwbacks”, but have not as of yet come across photos from the Red Wings or Kings games.

    Been away from UW for a couple of days and had no idea my design had been so popular – hell, I forgot about the contest altogether!

    Regarding “Sem(i)en Burns”: I always thought it was cool if I could see George Foster and Hubie Brooks standing together from the back, evoking thoughts of this very funny guy:


    Nothing says Uni-Watch like sweet stirrups. That’s got to be the phone case design. It IS Uni-watch

    If that one wins, the green will really need to be adjusted. It’s visibly the wrong shade.

    “This is what you get when you mix the Astros’ tequila sunrise with the Blue Jays’ split lettering and numbering font.”

    I have to say that the combination works. At least works better than the “future forward” unis the MLB flirted with.

    The first Canadiens’ goal tonight was scored by Markov and assisted by Subban and Pacioretty – uniform numbers 79, 76 and 67. That made me wonder what is the highest number combination to produce a goal in an NHL game. Have Hossa, Kane and Richards (81-88-91) been on a line for the Blackhawks? The Penguins may come close a couple of times, with Lemieux, Jagr and Coffey (66-68-77) or Letang, Malkin and Crosby (58-71-87) (or very briefly, Hossa). I can’t find a third high number on the Kings when Coffey and Gretzky were there.

    If you can think of others, post them here.

    Dane.. game 5 caps vs islanders. #92 (Kuznetsov) from #90 (johansson) & 27 (alzner)….I am sure there are more

    The duke jersey the recruit is wearing in the picture is the jersey they wore in the most recent season.

    The jerseys in the back are the new ones. They are very similar to the ones worn 2 seasons back, but these follow the new jersey cut/template currently in use by LSU and Ole Miss.

    Furthermore, you wouldn’t expect that they’d have the jerseys from two years ago on the mannequins in the locker/equipment room. It seems pretty clear that they must be going back to the old look that has now been updated to the new cut/template. And this picture is the first hint/confirmation of that fact. So yes this is news that has not been discussed previously.

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