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NBA Intro’s ‘Jersey of the Future’ — But Can It Core a Apple?

By Phil Hecken

Never did a throwaway Ticker item transform into a lede so fast.

That’s right, yesterday, at its annual All-Star Technology Summit, the NBA (and Commissioner Adam Silver) introduced what is purported to be the “Jersey of the Future.” Bonus points if you gleaned the meaning of the title

And what, pray tell, is this jersey of the future? Well, the best way to describe it is to show the moment:

Well, that seems pretty cool, no?

You seem skeptical.

You’re not alone…

Yes, there are lots of skeptics — just scroll down on the replies to the NBA’s announcement tweet. And there are more questions than answers.

Like, “How exactly does this seemingly magic technology work?” Answer: No one is certain, and for now, the NBA isn’t saying.

Like, “When will these be available?” Answer: No one is certain, and for now, the NBA isn’t saying.

Like, “How much will they cost?” Answer: No one is cer… well, you get the idea.

To demonstrate the technology, Silver transformed a No. 30 Steph Curry All-Star jersey onstage at the tech summit into a No. 23 Michael Jordan jersey. The theory behind all this is (I guess) if you purchase the jersey of your favorite player (or any player), you will, on your smart phone, be almost instantly able to change the NOB and number to another player.

You cannot, however, change the color of the jersey, or any of the piping/striping, or the team name/location/logo on the front of the jersey. It seems the theory behind this is if your favorite player (or any player) gets traded, your jersey doesn’t become “obsolete.” Or something like that.

Putting aside the (perhaps) well intentions, this too raises all sorts of questions and scenarios — and well, we’re all left wondering just “how far” this technology will allow the user to go.

For example. Will the owner be able to “fully customize” the NOB/number? Like, who hasn’t already pictured someone changing a “30 Curry” to “69 NICE!” or something along those lines.

Can you wash it? Will this technology still hold up after you’ve sweated through the jersey at your rec league scrimmage (assuming you’d be dumb enough to wear it to your rec league scrimmage)?

Of course, the previous two questions are moot until we are sure the NBA (and its maker) can bring this technology to light (the cost and availability being paramount). We’ve seen the kids today hack modern computer games to create sometimes-funny, often-off-color, sometimes-downright-offensive ‘skins’ (or whatever they’re called). How hack-proof will these be?

I get what the NBA is going for here. You don’t want to buy a jersey for a player who might get traded (or quit, demand a trade, be injured, etc.) the following week. Back in my day, we had solutions for this…

Of course, right now (at least to me), this seems like a jersey directed solely to the fans, but what’s to say this technology wouldn’t also work on court? Like, those nefarious jersey ads — could they be changed every half or quarter (or TV time out) to reveal some new advertiser? Will only the NOB/Number be changeable, or is that all that’s possible now/in the future? Again, skeptics abound:

Cost is obviously going to be a factor. Will one be able (upon purchase) to change the NOB/Number at will, or will the app used to create this wonderful technology be “charging” for the privilege? Say the jersey costs $300. Will changing the NOB/Number be “free” or will it cost the owner say, $10/change? Will there be unlimited changing capabilities? So, so many questions still to be answered.

The “Jersey of the Future” was just one of several new technological advances unveiled yesterday at the Tech Summit. Per ESPN’s Marc Spears…

Spears mentioned 2030 (which is, actually, not all that far away). Will we still need to wait 11 or so years for the Jersey of the Future to be here?

To quote Grateful Dead lyricist John Barlow, “The future’s here. We are it. We are on our own.”

But can it core a apple?

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A “Quick” Look At The AAF

The AAF (Alliance of American Football) kicked off last weekend, and while I was adamant that I didn’t watch any of the games, I definitely gave it a short shrift (lots of ticker items, but those only included observations from others). Now that the teams have passed the “I need to see them on the field, in action” litmus test, I wanted to take a few minutes to make some observations.

When the league was first announced (or at least, when the uniforms were first displayed), Paul covered the unveilings and gave his early thoughts. Sadly, his point about their being no uni ads was squashed in week 1, and we’ve now learned that at least one new team already got a second uniform (not that that’s a bad thing — in a league where each team initially was supposed to only have one uniform, this was clearly going to be a problem for certain matchups).

Let’s take a “quick” look at the 8 teams, with some thoughts (click any photo to enlarge):

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Arizona Hotshots

• Like Paul, I like the color scheme, but I don’t like the addition of orange. Green and gold look great together; adding orange only subtracts from that. The side panels (a staple of the league) are also annoying.

• I do love the helmet stripe and logo. See the negative space “AZ” in there? The orange logo on the helmet would have been fine. Not sure they needed to bring the orange down onto the uni. Also, see how great the logo looks on a green background? I’m wondering if a green helmet would have been better.

• The Hotshots have asymmetrical helmet markings. Logo on the right, number on the left. That’s certainly not a gamebreaker, but it’s definitely got a college feel to it (they’re one of several teams to have this helmet marking style).

• Overall? I like the unis, love the gold jerseys over green pants, and think it’s a pretty solid look. Green hats might look better.

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Atlanta Legends

• Maybe teams just shouldn’t wear purple. Or at least not purple helmets with purple jerseys, since the Legends are another team (in a long list, pro and college) who simply can’t match the hues on the helmets and jerseys. Seems like they also can’t match the metallic golds either. Sigh.

• The team doesn’t have a side panel on the jersey (yay!). Oh wait, even worse — the team features A T L instead. Yeah, no…leave the team name down leg on jersey … well, on the pants.

• On the plus side, I don’t mind this particular pants element/stripe, and while I’m not a fan of shoulder caps, these look OK. And on the plus side as well, the helmet features symmetrical “crown” logos on both sides, which was not part of the original look.

• Overall? One of the weaker unis in the AAF. I fear if (when?) the team gets an alternate uni, it will be a metallic gold jersey.

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Birmingham Iron

• The only monochrome team in the league, and it’s black. Oh, I get it, they’re just the Sharks of the AAF. Actually, few monochrome unis look good — all white and all black being notable exceptions — so if one team has to go mono, this is OK.

• I like the matte helmet, but I wish they had made the helmet stripe a uniform width. At least it tapers narrow in the back. In the pub photos, the nose bumper read “ALLIANCE” but for game play, it says “IRON”.

• One reason not to like jersey panels or stripes is because they very often don’t synch up with the pants striping. This not only offends my OCD, it looks sloppy. It looks worse when the stripe truncates on top & bottom.

• Overall? I’m fine with the mono look, and don’t even mind the helmet going logo-less.

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Memphis Express

• The Express’ original jersey was dark blue. Since the team matched up with the monoblack Iron (did you notice this matchup had neither team using a plural noun for a name?), Memphis wore white. A couple things to note here: their original jersey was not only blue, but it had red sleeve caps and tiled stripes. The white jersey does show the mesh material of the league. It’s almost like the white jersey is an afterthought.

• In a preseason game, the Express wore blue tops. Can’t say I’m in love with the inverted tiled striping they have going on.

• While I otherwise like the red helmet and logo, I hate the two-tone look they have going. Feels very minor league (well, I guess this kinda is). At least it looks better than that other pro team who tried it.

• Overall? My gripes (listed above) aside, I kinda like the overall look of the uni. When we see the blue jersey, it will have sort of a Houston Texans feel, only in inverse. Two-tone helmet issues aside, I love both the red/white/red and red/blue/red looks.

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Orlando Apollos

• There’s lots to not like here. First off there’s an ad patch (although since it’s a white patch on a white jersey, it’s better than having a contrasting color ad). And I really don’t like the block shadow treatment on the numbers. The two color, double, truncated side panels are awful.

• The gamer jersey was different than the initial offering. In the original it appears as though there was just one thick side stripe, rather than two thinner ones. It’s hard to tell, but it also looks like the gamers ditched the block shadow.

• The helmet logo wraps around the back of the lid, and the team has uni numbers on the back. I wish I could say I like either but I don’t. More complaints? OK — I don’t like the jersey yoke or the orange socks. Despite the drop shadow and two-color side panels, there’s not enough orange to justify the orange hosiery. Blue would have been a better choice.

• Overall? It probably sounds like I hate every part of this uni but I like the colors generally. It will be interesting to see if they add a new jersey (blue?). Seems like with the striping pattern, this one is designed to be worn mono-white, but maybe we’ll see a similar situation to Memphis, where the team has more of a solid alternate color jersey.

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Salt Lake Stallions

• Normally, I like powder blue and royal (or navy) blue together. That’s not the case here. The helmet is silver/gray and the jersey is supposed to be gray well, but in some photos it almost looks white. It’s not, but it depends on the lighting.

• The team has a very cool logo. Why then, don’t they wear the full logo on the helmet. Seems like someone is trying too hard there. And maybe powder blue on silver wasn’t the best choice for contrast.

• Another team following the shoulder cap and side panel treatment. And not to great effect.

• Overall? Meh. Gray and powder blue is just not a great combination, and it’s not helped out with the darker blue accents.

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San Antonio Commanders

• If all you had shown me of this uniform was this view, I’d say, “OK, sign me up!” Sadly, the more we see, the worse it gets.

• This is one of those unis that looks better on a computer screen than on the field. At first, I kinda liked the maroon and red (and they’re actually OK together), but it lost something in the translation.

• The two-tone helmet, with the wraparound Alamo design, was almost impossible to discern, even up close. I’m sure those hats just looked like a muddled mess from a distance.

• Overall? Could easily be improved. Take the maroon side panels off (but keep the yoke) and make the helmet solid maroon; if they have to have the Alamo graphic, make it gray, to match the pants. If you must keep that Alamo wrap, the ditch the asymmetrical logo and number. It’s waaaaay too busy.

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San Diego Fleet

• Of all the unis in the AAF, I thought this one had the most potential. Gold and anthracite look pretty good together. The logo works, and isn’t overly complicated. I even like the tiled “v” stripe on the helmets.

• Sadly (again) the computer generated unis look better on screen than in person. One element I was poised to actually like were the block shadow numbers (clearly meant to mimic the style on a navy ship). But even up close, they’re almost impossible to discern, and the cool tiled helmet stripe doesn’t look good when replicated on the jersey and pants.

• The asymmetrical helmet has a beautiful logo on one side that’s hard to see, while the numbers on the other side actually look much better. Contrast is important, folks!

• Overall? I think I still like this uni (and the Arizona Hot Shots) the best of the league. Maybe it’s because I like gold? Or maybe it’s just by default. It’s tough to work with two shades of gray (maybe three if you count the darker gray on the pants tiled striping), but they pull that off. Like most or all of these, they could be improved, but I think this one has the most potential.

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And there you have it — I tried to keep it brief. But thankfully this may be the first and last time I write about the AAF unis. Certainly not the worst uniforms we’ve ever seen.

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Kreindler’s Korner

I had the distinct pleasure of featuring the wonderful artwork of artist Graig Kriendler on two occasions over the summer and fall of 2017, and more recently, in August of 2018.

For those who don’t wish to click the links, Graig paints baseball heroes (and regular guys) from the past, and is an immense talent.

Occasionally, I will be featuring his work on Uni Watch.

Here’s today’s offering (click to enlarge):

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Title: “Ty”
Subject: Ty Cobb, 1907
Medium: Oil on linen
Size: 16″ x 22″

Another attempt in my series of paintings using the photography from the famous T-206 cards. This subject, Ty Cobb, is one of the more famous of the set. Though not in the same category of the big four (Honus Wagner, Eddie Plank, Sherry Magee error and Joe Doyle error), the Detroit man’s four different front versions are some of the priciest out there, especially in high-graded condition.

Not considering the different back combinations, this portrait of the Peach appears twice, one with a green background, another with a red one. Both cards are strikingly beautiful for the flat colors that differentiate the two. And to any card collector, they’re instantly recognizable. But for me, I was more concerned with making a painting that wasn’t based on the card itself. It was important to me that the viewer felt as if he/she was looking at Tyrus in the studio as the photographer was about to snap his shot. So, aside from making his skin tones a bit more realistic, i had to extrapolate more information from the photograph than perhaps the original T-206 lithographers did. In that original, the background is rather light, so I took the liberty of making it a beige goldish muslin fabric, which I think offset the cool colors of his away jersey nicely. And as a result, I think the head has a lot of breathable air surrounding it. Of course, the real meat is in his youthful face, that skin and those eyes especially.

When this photograph was taken, he was only in his first full season with the Tigers. He led the league batting .350, knocking in 119 runs and stealing 53 bases. Not bad for a 20-year-old.

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Thanks, Graig! You can (and should!) follow Graig on Twitter.

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: A bit of creative lettering going on for Mariners OF Dom Thompson-Williams’s NOB. And Thompson-Williams has to be a bit perturbed that the Mariners were able to fit all of Damon Casetta-Stubbs’s name on his uni (from Taylor Stallings, Andy Greenberg and Grant Bronsdon). … I think this is (finally) our first look at the new Braves BP uni (from @Keyvon212). … Astros P Brady Rodgers has changed his uni number from 62 to 52 to commemorate the May 2, 2017 date of his Tommy John surgery and May 2, 2018 birth of his son (from Ignacio Salazar). … There’s a pretty inexcusable error on this Tigers cap (from LH Griffel). … How often do we see managers going with high socks? That’s new Jays skipper Charlie Montoyo (from Gabriel Hurl). … Is nothing sacred anymore? The Pirates have announced that their bullpens are going to have a corporate advertiser for the 2019 season (from Jerry Wolper). … We all know superstars get personal logos. But journeyman relievers on minor-league deals? Brewers P Jay Jackson’s personal logo was designed by a friend while he played in NPB, and took off in Japan (from Chris Vandeyacht). … Because I can’t get enough of weird baseball memorabilia: Twitter user @SoFlaMarlins found a Spanish-language baseball card of Fernando Valenzuela batting as a member of the Padres. How obscure can you get? … Evidently, an English-language card of Valenzuela swing the stick for the Phillies (from @chewybukk47). … @BSmile sent in this fun clip of Carl Yastrzemski hitting a three-run homer sans helmet in the 1975 All-Star Game. … The Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers will turn into the Omaha Sizzle for five Thursdays in 2019. … The Fukuoka Softbank Hawks will wear a We Love Kyushu uni this season, as this is the Hawks’s 30th season since relocating from Osaka to Fukuoka on the island of Kyushu. The jerseys and caps feature a map of Kyushu (from @GraveyardBall). …  New unis for the Terps (from @Slotter). … Speaking of college unis, has a rundown of all the newest college baseball unis (from Joel Mathwig). … Absolutely gorgeous new unis for Syracuse softball (from Michael Alper). … “Was watching the Vanderbilt vs Virginia baseball game tonight and Vanderbilt with there black pinstripe uniforms had a patch that had the word Nash above the state of Tennessee,” says Cory Harrington. “Not sure what is for except Vandy is in Nashville.” … Nice 1890s throwbacks for the Nebraska Cornhuskers (from William Costigan, Jr.).

NFL News: @WTHelmets asks what the deal is with these tabs on the facemasks of Rawlings youth helmets. Any guesses? … We may have covered this before, but just in case: check out the differences in the NOBs for Pats T Trent Brown and FB James Develin. Brown has smaller letters and tighter kerning than Develin (from @NFL_Journal). … Also from @NFL_Journal: anyone know if this logo on the sweaters worn by the Boston Patriots cheerleaders was in any way official?

Hockey News: The Islanders will hold Bill Torrey Appreciation Night on March 9, and will wear WAT patches on their sweaters to mark the occasion. … The AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins went with 1980-US-Olympic-hockey-inspired fauxbacks last night (from the appropriately named Griffin Skinner). … The ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones took the ice last evening as the Cincinnati Flying Pigs to celebrate Cincy’s pork heritage (from Brian Henke and Dan Siegel). To accommodate, the Toledo Walleye went with their dark sweaters (from @labflyer). …The Predators’s mascot Gnash was wearing a red, Reebok-branded jersey last night (from Mason McGiboney). … Check out the trailer for Goalie, a movie about NHL G Terry Sawchuk with no NHL licensing. … Ohio State is wearing these sweaters for Military Appreciation Weekend (from @WesAndHammy). … Apparently a high school hockey player improvised an apostrophe in his NOB (from Burrill Strong).

NBA News: Woah, is this the official 2020 NBA All-Star Game logo? From the Jordan silhouette to the slice of pizza and Ditka stache, the NBA really knocked it out of the park — if it’s legit, of course (from @GameplanCHI). … The iOS game Basketball Manager 2019 did the photoshopping bare minimum to avoid an NBA lawsuit. Let’s go Roston Seltiks! (from @jondeno2).

College Hoops News: Davidson went black-and-neon last night (from Chris Marsicano). … Kansas will wear 1970s throwbacks today against West Virginia (thanks, Phil). … Louisville is also going with throwbacks today, honoring their first Final Four team (from Michael Berry).

Soccer News: FootyHeadlines got ahold of Olympique Marseille’s gorgeous 2019-20 kit. Unfortunately, these beauties will only be worn for cup competitions. L’OM will get three other kits for next season — here’s hoping they’ll look even half that good. (from Josh Hinton and Ed Żelaski). … Altrincham FC of the English 6th tier is going with all-rainbow kits this weekend to promote inclusion in football. More info here (from Neil Barraclough). … Atlanta United have revealed their 2019 kits (thanks, Phil). … Orlando City have unveiled their 2019 home kits (from @DaveDoop). … The Colorado Rapids are launching their new kits on the 19th (from Mac LaFrance). … After The Athletic’s Matt Rueter found out that Adidas was no longer making sleeved kits for MLS teams, he went on a (paywalled) long and somewhat quixotic journey to find out why (from Iain Landon and @NGSHogs).

Grab Bag: If you look closely at this custom Indian motorcycle, you’ll notice that the footpegs are made out of Brannock devices! (Excellent find by James Hayes). … CBS Sunday Morning is doing an entire segment on the most divisive color in America — pink (from James Gilbert). … Speaking of pink, Crimson Tide gymnastics went pink last night (from Griffin Smith). … The Orlando Fire Department has invested in high-tech new gear (from Doug Richards).

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Comments (25)

    The placement of the logo so far back on the helmet for the Apollos is unconventional. Seeing it instantly reminded me of another team that used to have their logo placed far back on the helmet. University of Ottawa Gee-Gees.


    I feel like an old man yelling at clouds at this point, but WTF is Davidson doing? They use black sparingly as a trim color and don’t use anything remotely near any shade of yellow. I get that with pro sports, you’re truly rooting for laundry being worn by professionals. But college sports SHOULD have some sense of tradition. They’re called “school colors” for a reason. Grrr.

    I worry about the competitive advantages these jerseys could have during NBA games.

    A team could change the numbers during the game and then the players on the other team would be totally confused about who they should be guarding.

    Yes should have been Vandy, dang auto correct and stay up to late and not proof reading my submission.

    “Will changing the NOB/Number be “free” or will it cost the owner say, $10/change?”

    I didn’t even think about this ’til you mentioned it. Perhaps, with that in mind, they’d knock the price of the jersey even lower, enabling more people to purchase it, then rake in the dough every time someone wants to change the name/number (with that in mind, they wouldn’t want to be too restrictive on the options). Sort of like how inkjet printer manufacturers sell many models for under $50, then sell ink for a price that makes oil companies jealous.

    Regarding the 2-bar Rawlings facemasks- I suspect the Twitter posters are correct that it was just part of the injection molding process. Perhaps to get around any patents Riddell had on their 2-bar mask, or simply to look different than the Riddell mask.

    The “jersey of the future,” if/when it ever gets released, will replace 3D helmet stickers as the most useless and unnecessary item in sports history.

    To compare it to another example of Technology For Technology’s Sake, it reminds me of those stupid electronic signs that almost every bank, gas station, church, pizza parlor and town square just *has* to have. Sure, they can show a lot more information, but they’re distracting to drivers. Oh wait…we you won’t be driving in the car of the future. Still, they’re always five degrees off from the real temperature and five minutes off from the actual time of day. You know there will be glitches. Use technology to solve a real-world problem instead of a First World problem and get off my lawn.

    To end on a high note, the AAF unis are fine.

    You are right that there will be glitches. In fact, as I was reading the story, I thought “some techie rival fans” will hack the other team’s jerseys to say something obscene.

    Seems like the Jersey of the future is a lot like the LED dress designed by Zac Posen. link

    You can see what it might be like to code it with Google’s Made With Code web app (linked in the above article).

    Thanks for the backup, everyone. I even included a link to that Honeymooner’s episode in the second graf.


    Oh, it can core “a” apple is indeed correct! How now brown cow, one-two-three-four…

    On the Yaz piece, I wonder if he brought Bob Montgomery’s insert that he used to put inside his hat when he batted. It’s possible as it seems the umpire was about to say something about his lack of helmet, and Yaz touched as if to say that the hard insert was underneath.

    Do you think Yaz used a “Bob Montgomery” helmet insert? It seems like the ump is asking about his lack of helmet and Yaz touches the hat, perhaps saying that’s what’s inside.

    Ah, the Chef Of the Future. One of my favorites. “Testing, testing, how now brown cow, one, two, three, four!”

    The AAF uniforms are not bad, but those officials uniforms are terrible. The black under the stripes make them all look like they are sporting a beer gut.

    The AAF uniforms are okay but they all look like they were created by the same design firm (and I’m sure they were) over the course of a couple of days. What the league should have done, once it announced which cities had teams, was to contact local designers in those cities to develop the logos and uniforms.

    As for the youth football helmet tab, I don’t know if it was intended but when we were kids you could wrap the rubber piece that attached to your mouthpiece around that tap and it stayed put. That’s what we all used it for, however, I have no idea if that was the intent of the tab.

    A couple of the AAF uniforms stand out, but otherwise yeah, they look like a batch job. On the other hand, it’s a pretty good batch of work. The NFL is coming to look increasingly like a single design studio’s output, and I’d rank the average quality of AAF unis above the average quality of this past season’s NFL unis. Impressive quality from a startup. I’m more concerned with the quality of designs than with the distinctiveness of design styles between uniforms. As long as the colors and shapes provide contrast between the two teams on the field, the functional need for uniform distinctiveness has been satisfied.

    “Chef of the Future!” One of the 39 episodes that were syndicated for decades before additional “lost episodes” were pieced together. Gleason even improvises around the 5:00 mark when part of their device unexpectedly went flying! And Art Carney was no improv slouch – he chimed in with “Get rid of the skate key…” Filmed November 12, 1955!

    Oh – the episode was actually titled, “Better Living Through TV.” And wouldn’t you know, back in the 80’s I was in a comedy group in Austin, TX called, Better Than TV. We even performed a Honeymooners tribute/take-off sketch at one of our shows at the iconic club, Liberty Lunch. I watched a lot of late-night WTBS in those days, though growing up in Chicago I knew most of the 39 by heart.

    Cool reference, Phil. Thanks. I think I’ll spend the rest of the weekend watching the other 38!

    Gotta disagree with you Phil. I’m liking the orange as part of the colour scheme for the Hotshots. Gives the a more unique colour scheme than simply going green and gold.

    Metal/Bruins/Jersey: A ABR (August Burns Red) fan gave the frontman (Jake Luhrs) a custom made Bruins/ABR jersey. It looks really nice. I wonder if it was hand-made?

Comments are closed.