[Editor’s Note: Paul is on his annual August break from site. Deputy editor Phil Hecken is in charge from now through the end of the month, although Paul is still on the clock over at ESPN and may be popping up here occasionally.]
By Phil Hecken
The Memphis Grizzlies unveiled new uniforms yesterday evening — three of them — plus a couple tweaked logos, a couple courts, and a new ad patch. In what now constitutes par for the course these days, there’s a “story” surrounding all of the uniforms and changes. More on that at the end of each section. But for now the main stuff and some corporate speak.
There’s a lot going on here for what appears to be a pretty minor set of changes to the white. First, here’s how the team describes the changes:
The asymmetry of our uniform represents not only our geography, with the Mississippi River anchoring our City and state on one side, but also the unique and unconventional cultural history of Memphis and the Grizzlies. The clean, long flowing lines that fall down the side of the jerseys and wrap around the shorts are reminiscent of the intersection of road, rail, river and runways, taking its line forms from the evolved inline wordmark.
The wordmark is new, though it’s similar to the previous one, as are the numbers. On the belt is one of the brand new logos, a stylized “MEM” (which I like a lot), and the jerseys and pants have stripes running down the right side, while the left side of the jersey is blank and the left side of the pants have the new (slightly tweaked) logo. And the team, which had no advertiser patch last year, has added one.
DARK BLUE UNIFORM
While the white jersey says “MEMPHIS,” the dark blue one reads “GRIZZLIES,” and the dark uni contains a slim strip of gold. Beyond that, the two unis are very similar in style. On both, the NOB is below the number. More corporate description is below:
Both uniforms draw focus to one of our core brand attributes – our blue collars. Beale Street Blue will now draw attention to the collars of the Icon Edition. The oversized bear icon on the left side of the short nods back to both our first seasons in Vancouver and Memphis.
Our new stylized shipping container mark will be showcased on the belt line of each uniform. All uniforms will feature our newly-designed inline type that represents the vibrancy of Beale Street neon signs in the names across their chests and reintroduces the inline to the number sets for the first time since 2010.
Yeah, OK. But hey, someone gets paid to write that copy. Anyway, the changes from the prior uni set aren’t major but they are noticeable. The “MEMPHIS” and “GRIZZLIES” now swap places on the white and dark blue unis (last years set is on the left, the new set is on the right):
The wordmark has gone from arched to straight, the numbers are smaller (and in the new, what I’ll call “Blue Jays-esque” font), and the navy uniform has a light blue collar.
LIGHT BLUE UNIFORM
The new light blue uniform is similar to the dark blue, but this one features the new “MEM” logo as a design element on the collar and belt, as well as a stripe on the bottom right hem of the pants. Here’s how the team describes the light blue uniform (note the “GRIZZLIES” is arched here):
Our new Statement Edition uniform will continue to showcase the base color of Beale Street Blue, along with our iconic inline type and blue collars, representative of Memphis entertainment and culture.
As with the Association & Icon Editions, this uniform creates an asymmetrical silhouette and utilizes the oversized bear icon on the left side of the short for strength and weight. The asymmetry is created by utilizing a pattern of the shipping container mark through the collar, belt and right short hem, similar to the Pacific Northwest trim used in Vancouver in 1995/96. This pattern is further highlighted by the use of Grizzlies gold accents along each piece.
The “refreshed” logo is barely different from the previous incarnation (as you’ll see in the side-by-side below). Basically its a slightly different shade of light blue and now a gray outline. But there is still a story attached:
The refreshed primary Bear Icon replaces our lightest ‘smoke’ blue within the nose & mouth area with our Beale Street Blue, enhancing the ferocity of the Grizzlies Gold in the Bear’s eyes. The Steel Gray outline introduces a color that is complementary to our intense blues while also bringing depth to the icon.
The old is on the left, the new is on the right:
NEW WORKMARK & NUMBERS
They tweaked the font slightly and removed the arch. As mentioned above, the numbers (which had been solid last season) are in the same font family.
The evolved wordmark and numbering system represent a more progressive and modernized take on its predecessor, while maintaining and deepening the connection to the Beale Street neon-inspired inline.
The straightening of GRIZZLIES in the full global logo gives weight to MEMPHIS and strengthens the collective wordmark to the icon.
NEW CLAWBALL LOGO
The “clawball” logo is also slightly changed from the previous iteration. Basically they put the ball in the opposite paw (left now, versus right, previously) and slightly tweaked the colors. They also rotated the angle from which the grip is shown. But wait…
From the shores of the Pacific Northwest to the banks of the Mississippi, the ‘ClawBall’ has maintained its home in the Grizzlies brand identity for over 20 years. This reimagined version brings the past forward and integrates it seamlessly into the new identity system with some of the same tactics used in the primary icon: the increased use of Beale Street Blue, the introduction of a Steel Gray outline and the more equitable weights of the claw and fur shapes.
This reimagined, redrawn and rotated version attacks the ball and showcases a stylized ‘M’ shaped by the three middle claws clutching the ball.
Here’s the previous iteration and the new one:
NEW “MOVING MEMPHIS” LOGO
On the surface, I LOVE this. However, when you find out the new rationale behind it, you might find it a bit cringeworthy:
Memphis is moving. It always has been. Since 1819 — whether by river, rail, road or runways — Memphis has been the hub of the country and the world.
This stylized mark integrates the Grizzlies’ neon-inspired inline and our city’s airport code into a design inspired by shipping containers that can be found on the rivers, roads, railways and runways of Memphis today. Memphis is America’s Distribution Center — but beyond cargo, Memphis packages and distributes its culture and soul to the world today.
And those shipping containers are also conveniently located in front of the Griz’ arena (at least temporarily). So, while it’s not quite an additional uni ad, when you know the “story” behind it, you won’t be able to unsee it. Not everyone sees shipping containers, however:
— Jordan Foreman (@Choreoanimator) August 3, 2018
Kudos on that spot.
According to this article (which has more cringeworthy corporate speak throughout), there are two new courts, but only one was “unveiled” last night and that’s the one you see above. It is possible that second court is the new practice facility court.
The Grizzlies put out the standard hype video as well:
THE WAIT IS OVER 👀 pic.twitter.com/sAy6CbLrAZ
— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) August 2, 2018
Prior to the unveiling, the team also released a look at the progression of unis throughout the years:
— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) August 2, 2018
Overall, the tweaks (which is all they really are) aren’t bad but these uniforms aren’t all that different from the ones they are replacing. With the exception of the new “MEM” wordmark, most of the changes are cosmetic (slightly different wordmark & logos, different color hues). I love navy and powder blue together, but I’ve never loved the way the Grizzlies have worked with them. The gold plays a very insignificant role, but I’m wondering if the new “fourth” uniform (second alternate) will be a gold version of the powder blue. You’ll recall Memphis had an awesome MLK-inspired fourth uniform last year (which I hope they keep). My understanding is that all teams will have an option to add a new fourth uniform this year — with some teams keeping their previous one, giving them a “fifth” option. I use the terms “fourth” and “fifth” in lieu of the ridiculous names Nike and the NBA have given each of the white and dark uniforms the teams currently wear. We can’t even refer to them as “home” and “away” since those terms no longer apply. I’m disappointed with the addition of the ad patch, of course, although no one should be shocked at whom Memphis has chosen.
Football Is A Country
Reader Robert Brashear sent in this great story — which I’m reprinting in full below. You guys will enjoy this one for sure!
To celebrate the World Cup, the people at Jacobin, a Brooklyn based socialist journal, came up with the idea of creating a unique jersey for their readers and fans. It’s theme would be “Football is a country,” inspired both by Eduardo Galeano’s Futbol a sol y sombra (Soccer in sun and shadow), perhaps the best book ever written about soccer, and Africa is a country, an eclectic internet space for progressive art and culture from all of Africa and the African diaspora. The idea seemed to be that football the game creates a reality that is beyond boundaries where the beauty of the experience of the game transcends any national loyalties. And we could wear this jersey while watching the games in celebration of that idea.
The jersey itself was intriguing. In the upper left, instead of a team crest, the Jacobin “J” in the journal’s distinctive font.
The main image is essentially a post modern deconstruction of World Cup brackets and in small print,
the nicknames of 8 teams:
Super Eagles: Nigeria
Les Bleus: France
La Albiceleste: Argentina
The Three Lions: England
Die Mannschaft: Germany
Les Lions de la Teranga: Senegal
La Furia Roja: Spain
So…why 8? Why these 8?
On the back a graphic for ‘Football is a country” borrowed from “Africa is a country” and a MNOB (magazine name?) “Jacobin” with a stylized “18.”
Altogether an interesting creation and worthy of a bar conversation or two. I ordered it immediately and anxiously awaited its arrival. But, perhaps inevitably, there were “problems with production” and the jerseys finally arrived Monday, July 30th, two weeks after Word Cup final. I will leave it to others for finding any metaphors in the story.
(Happily all proceeds did go to Africa is a country…)
— Bob Brashear
And now a few words from Paul: Turns out my August break from the site came just in time, because on Tuesday night I came down with a nasty stomach bug. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that the past few days have not been fun. I also haven’t been able to spend much time preparing for my move, helping to coordinate my mom’s care after her recent hospitalization, or doing my actual job (i.e., working on my college football and NFL season preview columns for ESPN). In a word: ugh.
If you want to make me feel better (or at least score yourself some nifty headwear), please consider ordering a Uni Watch alternate cap. It’s available here.
Meanwhile: Did I mention that I have a nasty stomach bug? So if you’ll excuse me….
By Kris Gross
Baseball News: The Diamondbacks wore 2011-era throwbacks last night (from Ed Kendrick). … The Phillies broke out the powder blues last night, and OF Rhys Hoskins had shoes to match (from John McMunn). … Not sure if it’s a baggy jersey or low NOB and number, but something doesn’t look right here (from Frank McGuigan). … We missed this earlier in the week, but when Jose Reyes pitched for the Mets on Tuesday, he used Jacob deGrom’s glove (from Michael Keane). … Cubs bullpen coach Lester Strode gave new pitcher Cole Hamels his No. 25, which means Strode will be first Cub ever to wear double zeroes (from Ariel Shoshan). … The Brewers will honor Negro League legends as part of their African American Heritage Night this evening. … 80 years and two days ago, the Dodgers and Cardinals experimented playing with a yellow baseball (from @smagula). … The Potomac Nationals are hosting Sandlot night tomorrow. … The Daytona Tortugas will hold Bob Ross Weekend, and wear Bob Ross-style jerseys next Friday.
NFL News: Here is your jersey matchup from last night as preseason games officially kicked off. … The helmet on the left side of this video gives a good look at the Titans 20th anniversary logo (from Eric Wright). … The Cowboys will wear blue jerseys three times this season (from Ignacio). … This photo of Matt Ryan from training camp was passed along by Nicholas Rath along with the note that Ryan has the NFL Equipment logo on his pants, instead of the NFL shield. The explanation from Paul is that all practice gear has had the NFL Equipment logo on it since Nike took over the uniform deal in 2012. … @NFLJerseys7 has put together this handy uniform schedule for the Chargers this year. … Tom Brady signed a girl’s arm, then she got his signature tattooed. … Interesting note from Jon Solomonson: the Ravens’ website has a picture of QB Robert Griffin III in a Reskins jersey, not a Raven or Browns jersey. … An elementary school in Kentucky poached the Bengals logo and font, but not the name! (from Michael Berry).
College Football News: It looks like Notre Dame will wear green in their home opener (from Mike L). … Baylor will wear the Vicis ZERO1 helmet this season (from Josh Lassiter). … Texas is going back to black shoes at home this year (from Jeff Far). … The retired No. 2 jersey for Washington is no longer retired (from JayJayDean). … At least one player at Duke’s practice had a name sticker on the front of his helmet (from Nate Smith). … Northwest Missouri State will wear warning labels in the outline of the state helmet decals. … Western Kentucky celebrates 100 years of football with a centennial logo. … Liberty will use an inaugural season logo to commemorate their first season in the FBS. … Athlon ranked the SEC’s home uniforms from top to bottom. … Combining the look of old-school and modern helmets is, well, hilarious (from David Weuste).
Hockey News: The Humboldt Broncos new goalie honors the players who lost their lives last year with his new helmet (from Ted Arnold). … Arizona State and Adidas unveiled the new ADIZERO jersey (from Cameron).
College Hoops News: North Carolina is naming the floor after Roy Williams (from William I. Wells).
Soccer News: Here are some soccer notes from Josh Hinton: Manchester City’s third kit leaked. … These are all the kits for the upcoming Liga MX season. … New away kits for Millwall FC. … New USL team Birmingham Legion has found their jersey advertiser. … Mitre will now be the official ball provider of the FA Cup and FA Women’s Cup, replacing Nike. … New shirts for Clemson Men’s Soccer (from Scott M. Trembly). … “Newcastle United have had their kits made by Puma for the past eight years but never in that time has the logo been in black – the reason being that Newcastle’s rivals Sunderland are nicknamed The Black Cats,” writes Denis Hurley. “Similarly, while Sunderland traditionally wear black shorts – though likely to change to red this season – the adidas stripes on them are never white, as Newcastle wear black and white stripes.”
Grab Bag: There’s a new table tennis league in Japan, here’s a look at their jerseys (from EP Conrad). … New jerseys for Munster Rugby. … For Paul and all the purple haters out there, this one’s for you (from James Atherton).