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Mr. Vilk Looks Back at NBA All Star Games Past

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By Phil Hecken, with Jimmer Vilk

I have a confession to make — this piece was actually supposed to run tomorrow, the day of the actual NBA All Star Game. Originally, I had planned to run a new “What’s Your Sign(ature)?” piece, but as I was preparing to write that yesterday, I was contacted by an old friend (and former UW contributor) who proposed a piece we’ve done in the past. I heartily accepted, as he promised me he could have that piece for me last evening (to run this morning). Unfortunately, at 1:00 am, he contacted and let me know it “wouldn’t be finished.” Had I written the What’s Your Sign(ature) bit as planned, I could have just dropped that in here. However, I had confidence my old friend would get me his promised article. He did not, and I didn’t have a backup. As weekend editor, that’s on me. But I’m not happy. Anyway, kudos to Jimmer Vilk for stepping up bigly and getting me HIS piece a day early. I’ll make sure I try have some juicy content for tomorrow, and I learned a lesson the hard way. ALWAYS have a piece in reserve.

With that off my chest, Jimmer and I had planned this to run tomorrow — but you’ll still get to enjoy it a day early.

When the NBA ditched the 2017 All Star Game location (scheduled for Charlotte originally) and moved it to New Orleans, a lot of scrambling had to be done. I believe adidas, in their last year of the NBA contract, had had some “Carolina”-type themed uniforms (as they usually tailored ASG unis to the venue in the past), but when the event was moved, the jerseys the West and East will wear tomorrow are…well, pretty generic. In fact, it almost seems like adidas just threw in the towel here, since they’re gone after the season and there probably wasn’t all that much time to come up with new, New Orleans-esque unis. Although after the last set of uniforms worn in a NOLA All Star Game, maybe that’s for the best.

Here’s what they’ll be wearing tomorrow: gray (dark) vs gray (light). With an adidas logo and a Kia ad.

17 ASG 1

17 ASG 3 17 ASG 2

The West will be in the darker gray while the East will be in the light shade.

NBA All Star game unis over the years have been great, good and lousy. I’d put this years into the later category only because they’re so lifeless. But back in the day they were bold, bright and colorful (that doesn’t always make them good, but it did make them more interesting). Jimmer is going to give you a look back at the good, the bad and the ugly in his own unique way. So, on that note, I’ll turn the rest of this over to him (as I type this, it’s 1:30 am)…

. . . . . . . . . .

All Time, All Stars, All Jimmer
By Jim Vilk

Two years ago I set out to make the most time-spanning Best All Time All Star Game Uniforms list there is. One can only span so far, though, in the confines of the usual 5&1 format. Thankfully Phil gave me three times the space today so I can get even more comprehensive as you try to comprehend my tastes.

Unlike the 5&1s, let’s get my three bad ones out of the way. I want to end on a high note. We begin with…

. . .


&3) 1996

I actually liked the previous year’s unis (we’ll see them later). My tastes kind of drew a line in the sand with them, however, and this year’s crossed that line. The number font just plain bugs me. Then there is the jalapeno. Change that into a carrot and you’d have the uni the Tune Squad should have worn in Space Jam. Not even the trim or the teal could save this look for me.

. . .


&2) 2014

What is this, the MLS All Star Game? I don’t like the lack of front numbers, and I REALLY don’t like how the West’s red and blue didn’t contrast enough. On the plus side, at least there wasn’t an ad patch on the jerseys.

. . .


&1) 2008

Welcome to Rock Bottom. The numbers are too small, the lettering is WAY too busy…and seriously…who thinks it’s a good idea to have one team with an all-white front and the other team with an all-white back? Even if this game was on free TV I wouldn’t have watched that mess.

. . .

Before we continue, yes, all my bad ones were from the last 25 years. Stay tuned, though, because the 21st century hasn’t been all bad. It’s well represented in the Top 15, and higher than you probably assume. OK, back to the countdown…

. . .


15) 1951

Ah, the charming simplicity of the inaugural unis. It’s really all you need, though, especially in a game that wasn’t televised. I wouldn’t wear the Chuck Taylors those players had, but I’d wear those uniforms.

. . .


14) 1987

Like 2003 but with proper shorts. This game was the third thing I ever recorded on our family’s VCR and since I don’t have TNT I’ll be watching it instead of tomorrow’s game. I’d like the unis better if the jerseys had “East” and “West” instead of both having “NBA.”

. . .


13) 1967

The first of the host team-themed unis, and they started out with a great one. If the Warriors ever host another game I hope they do something similar with their new bridge logo.

. . .


12) 2012

Sublimation can be fun. I like the nice big numbers and the fonts. I also like how they didn’t go overboard with the stars on this set.

. . .


11) 2004

It’s as if the New York Rangers collided with a mid-60s NBA All Star uni. My only quibble is that the numbers could’ve been bigger.

. . .


10) 1983

I have great memories of watching this game, so I thought it would have ranked higher. The picture you see of Kareem, though, shows why it isn’t. They should’ve accounted for his name when designing these otherwise nice unis. Even Doc’s name makes a great case for putting names under numbers.

. . .


9) 1979

Apparently I have a thing for diagonals. Even quirkier than 2004, this has the East going up and the West going down. If Future Me ever does another list, don’t be surprised if this one ranks higher.

. . .


8) 1982

I gave this set extra points for trying. A lot going on with the backs of those jerseys. The number font makes up for it, though. If I were to tweak these I’d switch the conference name and the “All Stars.”

. . .


7) 1995

I can’t believe this one is ranked so high. And yet it is. Actually when it first came out my reaction was different, but back then I didn’t know the NBA had a long history of host-themed unis. Present Me joins ’95 Me in loving that font, though.

. . .


6) 2006

Another one with great fonts. I would’ve liked it more if the West had better contrast with the numbers. Hard to believe this futuristic-looking uni is now 11 years old!

. . .


5) 1972

This was my #4 two years ago. I still love the thought of Celtics stars having to wear Lakers colors.

. . .


4) 1978

This was my #5 two years ago, but that crossword puzzle look is really growing on me. I may have to DIY an Artis Gilmore Western Conference shirt someday.

. . .


3) 2009

I don’t know if they were going for hot desert days and cool desert nights with those unis, but that’s the impression I got. The fonts and the subtle phoenix trim were more reasons to love this set. And, like 2012, the KC Kings fan in me loves names under numbers.

. . .


2) 1966

Best I could do was get a couple of screenshots from this video. I love the big normal-sized numbers and the stars down the sides. Ask me again some other time and this could easily be my #1. But for now that honor goes to…

. . .


1) 1981

Yes, this is 1981. Sports Illustrated and SI Kids say the 1980 unis were used in ’81 but they weren’t. I know because I was there and so was CBS Sports. I love the non-serif block font, and even though there’s a lot on there, everything is just so perfectly proportioned. If you watch the video, you’ll see they even got Kareem’s name to fit without any problems.

. . .

As I used to say years ago, I don’t consider this THE list…it’s just my list. My opinion is invalid no better than yours, so let’s hear your picks in the comments. Thanks for your time, and enjoy the game!

. . . . . . . . . . .

Thanks Jimmer! Thanks also for getting this to me *early* (it’s now 2:45 am as I type this) so it could run today. I’m too tired now to argue with your choices, so I’ll just end this with, “good job, good effort!”

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UW QBC Panel 3

Queens Baseball Convention Panel

You guys (and gals) will no doubt recall that Paul hosted the Uni Panel at this year’s Queens Baseball Convention (QBC), otherwise known as a “Mets Fan Fest” at the end of last month. I had a quick rundown of the uni panel at the beginning of the linked post, and that Monday, Paul had the audio from the event. Now, finally, there is video to go along with it. The star-studded panel included Paul (of course), plus Russ Gompers (the Mets jersey stitcher), Jon Springer (author and Mets-numerologist), designer Todd Radom and Nick DiSalvo (jersey collector and expert on all game-worn Mets jerseys). Oh yeah, I was there too, with a segment on Mets uni tracking for 2016.

If you have a few minutes (or 50+), give it a watch. I thought it was one of our better discussions (this was the third time we’ve all done this now). Enjoy!

UNIPANEL from Media Goon aka Keith Blacknick on Vimeo.

Big thanks to Keith Blacknick (aka “Media Goon”) and Shannon Shark of Mets Police!

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ESPN reminder: In case you missed it Thursday, Paul’s latest ESPN column focuses on what could be the beginning of the end of the BFBS trend, with a great (and exhaustive, though far from total) look at teams who have gone “Black For Black’s Sake” over the years. Enjoy.

Party reminder: Uni Watch party TOMORROW, Feb. 19, 3pm, in the back room of the Douglass (which is the same place we used to meet at, Sheep Station, but with a new name). Paul will be there, I’ll be there, and Paul may have theoretical T-shirts to sell, etc. Come join us!

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Uni Watch News Ticker
By Phil

Baseball News: Ooooohhh. Check out this bee-you-tee-ful 1906 Official Score Book from the Eastern League (via The Skimmers). … Also via The Skimmers, look at this tremendous 1905 photo of John McGraw of the New York Giants manning first. And check out the bag itself — is that a “baserunner cutout” we see there? … Neat overhead shot of the Houston Astros’ spring training complex. … Not sure if this is new, but Luke Jackson writes, “I’ve noticed Francisco Lindor is wearing New Balance. Big UnderArmour guy since being in MLB.” … The St. Paul Saints tweeted, “Our fans seem to love the 25th Anniversary uniform and cap with the kids calling them ‘lit’ & ‘fleek.’ Your thoughts @PhilHecken @UniWatch?” My thoughts are, “are ‘lit’ and ‘fleek’ still things?” … That post of course inspired Bruce Menard to come up with this picture of the 1939 St. Paul Saints. … When NL expansion happened in 1962, the Astros (nee Colt 45s) and Mets took two divergent paths towards stocking their teams. The Mets had hoped to lure both Brooklyn Dodger and NY Giants fans so they stocked their roster with past-prime former Dodgers (Hodges, Labine, Lavagetto, Craig, Zimmer, Neal), all of whom showed up to that first spring training (thanks to Bruce Menard). … Latest team to join the matte helmet parade — the Miami Marlins (from Richard). … You need to listen to this “Hall Of Very Good” podcast with Todd Radom. Twice (from Hall of Very Good). … Lots and lots of unis and combos for the University of Virginia (from Wayne Jones). … Former Met Bartolo Colon is shown wearing a Braves helmet with the “a” logo (from Sander Bryan). … Here’s a closer look at the jersey number (and NOB) detailing for the Mets (and other teams have this as well) ST jerseys (via Shannon Shark). … We may still have to wait a bit for real baseball (as great as spring training may be), but they’re already playing College Ball. Here’s FSU’s first combo of the year (nice that they’re starting the season off with all white unis). From Christy. … Here’s a look at the unis the Miami Hurricanes will wear this season (from Jeff C). And apparently this is their BP cap (from Jeff). … Here’s a great shot of UNC Baseball from the ’90s — the 1890s (from James Gilbert). … USC (SCar) baseball is honoring a long-time fan who recently passed away. “Oot-oot” was his heckling call of choice. … Tommy Bahama is out with new Spring Training aloha shirts. Here are the shirts for the Grapefruit League, and for the Cactus League (from R. Scott Rogers). … New all black softball uniforms for the Florida Gators (from GatorsSB EQ). … Coastal Carolina, the 2016 champs, opened their season in white pins (via Joe Murano). … This is disappointing — The San Francisco Dons are sporting beautiful pins, and then ruining it with 2-in-1s (good spot by Brandon). … On the flip side of the ‘rup coin is Oklahoma, who rocked some really nice ones yesterday (from Trayton Miller). … “Looks as if Miami U (Ohio) turned a bad uni (at least hat) triple play [yester]day… wow!!” says Matt Newbery. … Also in the “good” stirrups camp (albeit a wee bit too much opening being shown) are Youngstown State University (from Robert Hayes). … Tweeter Griffin Smith thinks Presbyterian Baseball has some “tough color combos.” … Beau Parsons points out the Tigers are using their 1964-93 logo on their website. … President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were presented with a Maine-Endwell Little League World Series Championship jersey and hat during a meeting. … Looks like Michigan softball is wearing raised logos on their helmets this year (good spot by TJ Hudge). … Here’s a close-up of Craig Kimbrel’s custom Kobe cleats (from Zach Loesl).

NFL/Football News: How great is this old photo of Jim Brown? (via the Browns). They need to revert to that uni as soon as their contract will allow. … Oh my. As pointed out by New Year, who dis?, there was an unfortunate logo mishap during Thursday night’s Indoor Football League game. … The Green Bay Packers are planning to hold monthly history nights, the first of which kicks off on February 28th (via Rich Ryman). … The hed and sub hed of this article, “Will Nike ever alter Eagles uniforms? Nike has changed eight uniforms since the company become the NFL’s uniform supplier. Will the Eagles ever fall into the Nike purge?” certainly implies that such changes are actually, ya know, up to Nike. Not the way things work in the NFL. Of course, there would be many (myself included), who would love for the Eagles to return to kelly green, but ultimately, that’s NOT Nike’s call.

Hockey News: Here’s a new (and rare end-of-season release) of new white jerseys for Robert Morris University Women’s Hockey (from Alan Saunders). … The Belfast Giants, of the UK’s Elite Ice Hockey League, wore pink Valentines jerseys the other day (from The Lupine One). … Tweeter Brian Prutch says of these black and pink jerseys, “2017 jerseys for this weekends @UtahGrizz games. Names represent someone that has survived or that we lost.” Also “cancer sucks”. … The infamous “worst jersey ever?” Burger King sweaters make a return to the ice, only they’ll be worn by the Ontario Reign (from Kristopher Sharpe). … Not sure I’ve ever seen this before, but it’s definitely cool: the Missouri Mavericks are doing a “Salute Weekend” which includes a Negro Leagues tribute mask (from Jon Saddler). They’re honoring Willie O’Ree, 81, who was the first black player to play in a National Hockey League game (you can learn more here). … The Reading Royals will wear these extremely pink sweaters today (from THOMPUCKS). … The Milwaukee Admirals busted out the Slapshot-inspired sweaters last evening (from ROW THE GOPH).

NBA/Basketball News: Whoa — check out this sweet CBA Oshkosh Flyers program from the 84-85 season (from Brad Beck). … The NBA All Star Game has emojis you can download. … There are Ekins and then well, there are people who get a swoosh and jumpman logo tattooed on their faces. From Eric Juergens, who writes, “Jumpman on her face..gross.” Pretty much. … Last evening’s “Rising Stars” game for the All Star festivities was color vs. color (from Zach). … Also from Zach, TNT’s mic flags were Sager Strong. … Mark Cuban trolled President Donald Trump last night by wearing a No. 46 jersey at NBA celeb game. … The following are all NBA reports from Zach Loesl: Master P went full sleeves in the Celebrity Game; two players wore triple digits; The adidas patch was on the Rising Stars challenge jerseys; Kristaps Porzingis wore cool shoes during the Rising Stars challenge; and finally, a custom ball and net were used during the Rising Stars challenge; … Here’s a list of the 10 worst sneakers ever worn at the NBA All Star game.

College/High School Hoops News: The Northwestern Wildcats will be breaking out their “Gothic” uniforms today (from NU Men’s Basketball). … According to Chris Lather, a “Laundry mishap meant color vs color action (last) night for @CwoodHoops vs Estelline in varsity action.”

Soccer News: Nice find by Paul who sends in this New York Times article on corner flags in the English Premier League. … If you’re a fan of Real Salt Lake (or even if you’re not), this article ranks all their kits from best to worst. … Looks like D.C. United will finally be getting their “own” stadium after “a dozen years of frustration to replace RFK Stadium as its home.” … With all the new MLS releases recently, I can’t keep track of what we’ve seen and haven’t seen. So just to be safe, here’s the Orlando City 2017 primary reveal. More images here (from DontTrustAny1ButRon). … The Minnesota United revealed their kits yesterday (scroll down for more images). From Ben Hagen and Smiley. … The Colorado Rapids unveiled a new secondary jersey earlier this week. It’s very gold.

Grab Bag: If you’re a fan of Leinenkugels beer then you might be interested to know they have new “branding” (according to Chris Viel). That’s merely a redesign, not a rebranding however. … “Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank had a cool brand before stepping into a hot mess.” That’s from Tommy Turner. … Here’s a history of shark-mouth nose art on fighter planes. Adds submitter R. Scott Rogers, “Includes everything from WWI biplanes all the way up to recent USAF football unis.” … “The city of Orlando,FL is having a contest to design their new flag,” writes Kevin Kleinhans. “Not sports related but I figured there might be some interested. Do not need to be a resident to enter.”

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And that’s it for today. Thanks to Jimmer Vilk for coming through at a very late hour and for saving today’s post. Sorry I couldn’t run it on the day of the actual All Star Game, but them’s the breaks. I’m not 100% sure, but I am hoping to attend the Devils/Isles game tonight, and if so, I will be off the grid for a good portion of the day. So tomorrow’s content (don’t worry, I’ll get a lede done) may be somewhat light. And to all the NYC-area readers, don’t forget the Douglass gathering on Sunday. As I put this piece to bed, it’s 3:00 am.

Back atcha tomorrow, but until then…

Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.


.. … ..

“Guess I’m the only non-fan of the raised ”“ too perfectly puffy ”“ precision poppy ”“ batting helmet logos. Will always prefer the pine tar smudged can’t even see the logo look of yesteryear. But, I’m old.”

— Muddlehead

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Comments (23)

    I am not the biggest NBA fan here, but: This retrospective with the slightly silly designs and panorama of colors and typefaces is a bit of a mood-lift for the middle of February. Would it all be different if this was some other All-Star game taking place in June?

    Also this reminds me of the idea about a great spring training jersey: A bit more eye-catching and something which wouldn’t be mistaken for a regular season kit.

    Why even include that first paragraph of today’s entry? If I was your “old friend” I’d be pissed. Yeah, you didn’t mention him by name, but I’d still feel super guilty after reading it…At least with how it was worded. “I had confidence he’d get me his promised article. He did not.” Today’s entry would have been fine without all of that.

    But that’s just me.

    There is an All Star uniform that missed the top 15 which would be right near the top of my list. I liked the 1992-94 unis:


    Could include 1991 in there. It was the same design as ’92-94, except red dark uniforms instead of blue.

    The Astros and Natinals occupy a shared sports stadia bloviatingly called “The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach.

    I don’t see the problem with 2-in-1s. They replicate the look of true stirrups, so that’s good enough for me.

    I’d set the hierarchy like this, from most to least desirable:

    – true stirrups
    – 2-in-1s
    – solid socks
    – no sock visible

    Solid socks
    True stirrups
    No socks visible

    /waiting to be banned from this site

    I believe that is Walt Frazier (in Puma Baskets) guarding Jerry West in the ’72 All Star Game photo. He was not a Celtic.

    While very similar to the 1987, I have always preferred the blue and white of 1985. My all-time favorite NBA All-Star units.


    Same template in those years. The West wore blue on the road and the East wore red. I agree it was a good look either way, but with that particular set I liked the red better.

    Re: the Tigers old logo; it has to do with maintaining trademark of the old logos, so it has to appear somewhere on the site. Other teams do something similar on their sites, as do other corporations in general (which is why you can find one Amtrak coach that still says Metroliner, and there’s still one Standard Oil gas station).

    How many fields does the Jupiter complex for the Cardinals and Marlins have? When there are shared facilities, there are going to be more practice diamonds.

    What do the 2017 NBA All Star jerseys look like?
    First thought is K-mart blue light specials.
    Soon to come in bulk to a liquidation store near you.

    Think very few people anywhere would have these ones cracking even the bottom of your top 18 list.

    All-Star jerseys, be it NFL or NBA, seem to be judged a little too harshly…people seem to think they’re either too outlandish or too generic.

    For the NBA at least, there seems to be little reason to even have special All-Star uniforms. The few seasons where the NBA just had players wear their regular unis seemed to work fine, and probably helped the fans more easily identify the players. This probably wouldn’t work for the Pro Bowl, admittedly, although it would be an interesting experiment.

    The Mets and many other teams will look ridiculous this spring, with their traditional two color graphics in front, and cheap looking one color white graphics on the back.

    Phil pointed out to me the Reds will look better (no dropshadow). The Yankees won’t be affected, except for the stupid sublimation.

    “Master P went full sleeves in the Celebrity Game.” He also apparently went full belly by the look of his tucked in, too small jersey.

    Later should be latter in the last para before Jim’s part.

    I was interested in the balls for the various things and the shootout – they all looked shiny and new, not nicely broken in.

    Anyone know if they are actually leather or are they synthetic in the same template as the usual leather balls? A new leather ball isn’t nice to use at all.

Comments are closed.