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Phoning It In: Fan’s Voicemail Inspires Crummy New Pistons Uni

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When I was in college in the early 1980s, I was hanging around my dorm room one day reading Rolling Stone. There was a record review for a live album by a hard rock band whose identity I no longer recall — Triumph, maybe..? Anyway, the review, which gave the live album only one star out of five, began something like this:

About halfway through this album, lead singer [John Doe] tells the crowd, “By the way, we’re recording this show for our next live album! That’s right, you’re making a live album right now!!”

Not so fast, guys — you can’t blame the crowd for this dreck.

That’s kinda how I feel about the Pistons’ new Statement alternate, which was unveiled yesterday. It was supposedly “inspired” by a voicemail that a fan left at the team’s offices nearly two years ago. You can hear it in this tweet (additional info here):

It’s a nice story, but the team shouldn’t be allowed to dodge the blame for this mess. I suppose it’s arguably better than their previous Statement alt, but only because it’s not grey. I don’t like the BFBS, don’t like the outlined black-on-black typography, don’t like the flush-left number, and don’t like how the whole thing feels like a bunch of stacked layers (maker’s mark and ad are the first layer, then the lettering, then the stripes, then the number). Pfeh.

The team didn’t release any rear-view photos, but here’s a retail mock-up:

Meanwhile, if you want to be an NBA designer, we now know that there’s no need to go to design school or strain your brain coming up with absurd “storytelling” concepts. Just leave an incoherent rant on your favorite team’s voicemail and you too can be a designer! (And then in two years you can watch your design get discarded and forgotten when they roll out the next Statement alternate.) And hey, pro teams, no need to hire design brand consultants and marketing staffs! Just give out that phone number and you’ll have some great uni ideas in no time. Why didn’t everyone figure this out years ago?

Still, there has to be some accountability here, right? The team can’t just pass this off on the fan. Nuh-uh, Pistons — this one’s on you.

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Comments (52)

    Brutal. Really think all NBA teams need to hit the reset button and ditch this endless assembly line of uniforms. Just focus on creating one attractive home uniform and one attractive road uniform and be done. I know it’s all about money, but is there really a market for all these crappy designs? Who is buying this stuff? Who can afford to throw away that much money? No idea.

    I would love to see the numbers, but I would think that people wear NBA jerseys less often than tops from the other sports. Baseball, soccer, football and hockey gear have sleeves of varying lengths, and pair well with jeans. Basketball jerseys, as tank tops, don’t look nearly as good when worn off the court. Most people don’t look all that good in them, and certain places (restaurants especially) don’t let you wear them on the premises. Which underscores the idea that athletics aesthetics do stop the madness, starting with the NBA.

    Oh, there’s absolutely a market for NBA jerseys in general and these seasonal one-offs specifically. Go to an NBA game in any arena and you’ll see plenty of prior year City uniforms alongside the standard home/road.

    There’s no other reason why Nike would keep doing this annually.

    Another black uniform for a team without black in their color palette. I’m done with Nike’s black-washing of sports teams uniforms.

    The BFBS is actually not even the worst part. That would be featuring DET instead of Detroit, Pistons, or even Motor City.

    I’m a Detroit native, and at no point has the city been known as “DET”. The airport code is DTW, and outside of the striping meant to mimic the old Pistons warmups, this design doesn’t have anything Detroit-centric about it. I would say that the teal uniforms have more to do with the city than these do. This is the ultimate BFBS for me. City Uniforms should have something totally unique to the city and instantly recognizeable, this one fails miserably.

    Except this isn’t a “City” uniform, it’s a “Statement” uniform, which may actually be the worst part: the various lines of bad design that deserve haughty names for some reason.

    Newsflash:
    Every sports fan in America instantly recognizes “DET” as an abbreviation for The Motor City (AKA Detroit btw). Also the blue and red colors are lifted directly from the garments depicted on the city flag.

    And following up on freeredis, nobody uses “DTW” unless they’re specifically referring to Metro Airport, though most of the time it’s just “Metro Airport”, or just “Metro” if the context of the airport is understood.

    “Every sports fan in America instantly recognizes “DET” as an abbreviation for The Motor City”
    But why put that on the uniform? Just because teams recognize the scoreboard/scorebug abbreviations doesn’t mean it makes sense or looks good to put them on the uniform. It is a gimmick, and a bad one.
    Abbreviations are just that, they are used in shorten spaces where you cannot fit the entire team/city name. Given uniforms have managed to fit the entire city / nicknames for over a century in sports, not sure why we are doing this now. I certainly am not opposed to the idea of using colloquial nicknames like Motor City, Music City, or South Side, on an alternate uniform, but DET certainly isn’t away that people refer to Detroit.

    That feels like such a cop out excuse for creating this. The obvious being that NBA teams roll out new uniforms each year now anyway, thus a fan request for a new uniform doesn’t even matter.
    Say nothing for the fact that I am sure the Pistons field a lot more calls with practical recommendations from fans that they ignore. I mean if you really want a fan sourced uniform for your team have a design a uniform contest.

    Someone else pointed out the irony of having the Michael Jordan Jumpman logo on a Pistons uniform lol.

    The back definitely looks better than the front, IMO

    As a big fan of Triumph, I definitely remember the live album being released about that time (Stages, 1985). I wasn’t happy with that album – not because of the playing or song selection, they are all great musicians – but that it was disjointed. Instead of one concert, they were just different live tracks from different concerts over like a 3-4 year period. There was zero cohesiveness. But as a band, they are great.

    In a way, these uniforms (and NBA uniforms now) are exactly the same….disjointed. Too many teams using non-team colors. No identity. No uniformity. On the rare occassions I flip to an NBA game, I have no idea who’s playing unless I look at the scorebug. And these in particular are a mess.

    Plus these teams also have multiple courts. Like you, I have no idea who is playing…no idea where the game is being played. Yeah, I know, I’m old.

    Spot on.I watched a Rockets/Trailblazers game a year or two ago for about a minute before I realized the Rockets were in black and the trailblazers we’re in red.

    “Too many teams using non-team colors. No identity. No uniformity”

    This and too many new uniform releases of outfits that are here today and gone tomorrow. Basically, the reason I am no longer excited when I hear there is a new NBA uniform compared to the excitement that existed before.

    Not the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but truly bland and uninspired.

    Looks like the uniform of a basketball team from a college with a direction in its name…

    I like the stripes, a nice nod back to the Bad Boys-era warmups. Everything else is simply terrible though.
    All Pistons fans want is a simple red alternate.

    “if you want to be an NBA designer, we now know that there’s no need to go to design school”

    It’s been obvious that hasn’t been the case for a while.

    Since we’re opening up things to fans now, I have a suggestion. Each team has five uniforms: black, charcoal gray, safety green, safety orange, and “bone”. All lettering and numbering is in Comic Sans, the same color as the jersey, but outlined in black, except the black jerseys, which are outlined in hot pink. (Yes, the charcoal gray numbers are outlined in black. Don’t be a fuddy duddy.) Three of the five jerseys will have a random copper-colored square on the left abdomen, but the teams can choose which three. One of the jerseys must have a polo collar. I’m writing this as a joke, but it actually doesn’t sound much worse than some of the actual NBA jerseys.

    I have NBA New Uni Fatigue. How do you get excited for multiple new unis per team, each season? And each unveiling comes with such pomp and circumstance (social media blasts, photo ops, slick video packages), so it’s funny when the design is mothballed 8 months later. The Pistons’ “dog-ass uniforms” will be scrapped before we know it.

    Is “DET” a nod to the careers of Kai and Toy Detmer? Weren’t they the only set of brother-backups to be hailed as “The Answer” for the Browns? And isn’t it awesome that the Pistons and Cavs take the floor with franchise-destroyer Michael Jordan prominently displayed on their chests? The NBA has gone absolutely mad. Or minor-league. When I turn on a lonely cable channel, I can hardly tell if it’s Memphis playing Birmingham, or Tulsa at Coshocton.

    By the way, isn’t the definition of “uniform” “remaining the same in all cases and at all times; unchanging in form or character”? Too funny.

    The NFL and NBA are almost at opposite ends of the spectrum on uniforms. The NFL makes teams keep terrible designs for at least 5 years, because because. The NBA on the other hand gives all of their uniforms stupid names and many of them are REQUIRED to be changed every year, so even when a team nails something they can’t keep it. I almost shudder to say it, but the NHL seems to be the only league that handles their uniforms appropriately. Even MLB has too many teams with too many alternates; plus they need a rule that only one team can wear colored alternates in a game. If the home teams goes with the softball tops, sorry road team, wear grey. You are the road team, that should confer limited choices.

    Yes, the NHL does a decent job of controlling endless jersey rollouts. But they really need to return to light-colored uniforms at home and dark-colored uniforms on the road.

    The caller should be put on a government watch list for calling an nba team and leaving a voicemail complaining about uniforms.

    I wonder what they do with all the time they save by not spelling out the entire word DETROIT? Because we know it’s not time used attending design school.

    I’d guess their “statement” is “Hey, we’re a crappy team in an even crappier city wearing even crappier uniforms.”

    The funny thing is it isn’t really that much worse then the uniforms that are designed by supposedly professional designers.

    As a Pistons fan I would feel truly offended by this uninspired mess. I am not a Pistons fan and even in that capacity I find this uniform offensive to my eyes. Design has been slapped together in less than 5 minutes, forwarded to the factory in Vietnam or Bangladesh and have it churned out asap. Not a lot of fans will buy it (like most of these recently revealed designs), Nike and the NBA shrug their shoulders and the unsold stacks are sent back tot the factories and distributed to the people who made it and their families as a tax-deductible ‘goodwill gesture’. If the objective of the Nike designer was to eventually make this massive giveback happen by designing a very ugly uniform no fan likes I applaud this design.

    I don’t know, when I saw these last night I did not think they were bad. really at all. Feel like they are bold and will look good on TV. I hate the makers mark and ads but that is across the board, not just this team. I think the NBA has made all of the new UNIs kind of a joke for sure but I must say I am always excite to see them….. even if I do not like them hahahah. Like it is a new UNI to see. I don’t know, it is not hurting me so I can not complain much. Feel like this is way better than some of their past alternates.

    Why does one fan’s voice mail lead to the development of a garbage uniform, but the collective cries of large segments of the fan base to stop it with the new uniforms every year and to stick with the basic home, away, and occasional alternate/throwback is ignored?

    I’m surprised they didn’t go with “The D” instead of DET. Either way, it’s terrible.

    I’m more surprised they didn’t go with “313,” since that’s a big marketing initiative for them. But they’re probably saving that for the City design.

    I’m assuming they can’t have numbers as their front wordmark due to possible confusion with uniform numbers. That’s probably why the 76ers have had “Sixers” on their unis.

    Definitely surprised there’s no “313” references though

    I feel like I need to back my team here for a moment. These uniforms are uninspired, but there are certainly worse uniforms out there. The team has been tough to watch for a few years. They are 20 years removed from championship relevancy. The standard home and away are classics, and don’t change all that much. The piston’s won’t sell any jerseys unless they do something different. These jerseys are hardly offensive. if they just filled in the numbers white and removed or refashioned the DET on the front they would be perfectly serviceable BFBS jerseys. as they are, the numbers are an eyesore, but the front is simply horizontal stripes. Do I need to remind you of the Jazz rebrand and that the wizards are wearing these goofy gradient shorts. these Uniforms are fine by comparison.

    Hey, don’t talk about my Wizards and their totally unnecessary Tidal Basin/Cherry Blossom gradient shorts. Sure, that design decision ruined an otherwise awesome uni, but whatever….

    As a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) alum, I had to do a double take on this jersey. The UWM ad patch made me wonder: Did Detroit really sell ad space to a Wisconsin college?

    After a little digging, I found out it’s a mortgage lender.

    I was really hoping the jersey would be supporting a Chicago icon (Jordan) and a college in Milwaukee!

    Personally, I don’t mind this the new Pistons uni at all. Most of the uniforms are duds, but this one’s at least a mild departure from the standard kit. I don’t even mind the black.

    I thought Big Sean was designing something for the Pistons coming out soon, but it wasn’t clear whether or not he had input on this one. Anyone know?

    I haven’t watched an NBA game in eons, but assuming that the current primary colored uniform is blue, they could’ve made this red instead of black (or even an alternate white), NOT pin the blame on the “fan voicemail” (which I call link on this being the reason they did the thing), and it would’ve been serviceable.

    I don’t even mind the ‘DET’, as I fully understood what they mean, and it’s oversized, so it fills out fine. I think a left-aligned, stacked “Motor City” on the front would’ve been better, but w/e.

    Imagine making one-off unis that are actually inspiring and not just phoning it in for the buzz. Nah, couldn’t be whoever’s in charge at the NBA (and maybe Nike) design offices, that would actually make sense.

    If only you could see the literal lap I had to do around the house when I realized the pun

    I very much enjoy the fact that the voice-mail requested “dog-ass” uniforms, because these are about as attractive as a canine’s rump.

    That said, I think I’m just getting old. Yes, I wish these were one of the Pistons’ actual colors, but I don’t think the youth of today care about that type of thing. It’s why Nike’s uniforms are slowly devolving the way they are. I think the only thing stopping us from an NBA where every team wears the same template in “their” colors is that would inhibit Nike’s ability to maximize earnings with new designs every year or two.

    The future of NBA uniforms: reversible black/white minimalistic uniforms with no distinctive details and wordmarks and numbers in what used to be team colors, no team logos and up to three different ads per uniform (front and back of the jersey plus the shorts). And the crowd goes wild and demands to buy exactly the same outfit, ads included: the so-called Authentic Edition. Anyone wanting a digression from this monotony? Buy the ultra expensive throwback with no ads.

    Being a passionate devotee of a hobby is great, but the amount of anger I sometimes see directed toward uniforms in the comment section of this blog feels like it crosses the line into being pathological. If your hobby makes you this enraged, maybe you should choose another hobby?

    Anyway… maybe I’m just defensive because I actually kinda like these unis. The black doesn’t bother me. I see black as a neutral canvas, not a color. (And technically, in the electromagnetic sense, it truly isn’t a color.) It’s the opposite of white, and nobody has a problem with white being in every team’s uniform. I also like the blue and red jersey striping. (I’ve always been a fan of big blocks of color, especially on jerseys.) I’m not from Detroit, so I don’t know if “DET” means anything locally, but in a purely aesthetic sense, I think it looks fine. I kinda like the blocky outline font. And “Det” is the common abbreviation for Detroit teams in data tables (e.g., the kind of information you’d find at Basketball-Reference.com), so everyone knows what it means.

    So all I needed to do all these years to get the Pistons to bring back the red alternates from the mid 2000s was leave them a voicemail? Anyone want to look up their number and start a mass message campaign with me?

    A True train wreck for sure.

    Like absolutely horrible and horrific.

    I feel like they went the route of the Clippers and literally just said: Make it Black.

    I’ll say this; they could’ve at least used the logo from the Bad Boys Era, clearly that was the inspiration for this set, but it really has no connection to me as a longtime Pistons fan. (Circa 95′ to 04′) I was definitely more of a Pacers Fan but only because of Reggie AkA Knicks Killa.

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