I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I’m a big fan of the Nets’ old star-spangled uni design, which they wore from 1972 through 1981. It’s one of basketball’s classic uni designs, thanks mainly to its red-white-blue-white-red striping.
Or at least that’s how the striping is supposed to go. But reader Christopher Noice has pointed out something I hadn’t previously been aware of, namely that the second red stripe — the one on the back of the jersey — was sometimes missing from various players’ uniforms. Take a look:
You may be thinking, “Maybe the missing stripe was an intentional team-wide thing at one point.” But here’s a shot showing Dr. J with the stripe and Kim Hughes without it:
To be sure, these examples were the exceptions, not the rule. Most of the time, the red stripe was there. But it was missing (only from the jersey, never from the shorts) often enough to be a legitimate phenomenon, and there doesn’t seem to have been any rhyme or reason as to which players were afflicted by it. At one point a missing-stripe jersey even graced the cover of the team’s official program.
The stripe was also occasionally missing from the team’s road jerseys (although, based on my photo research, not as frequently):
A confession: I grew up on Long Island in the 1970s and was a big Nets fan at the time. I saw them play several times at the Nassau Coliseum during the Dr. J era, and I was definitely uni-aware at that time. But I never noticed the missing stripe until Christopher Noice pointed it out to me. Thanks for that, Christopher!
Was anyone else aware of this? And what should we call this phenomenon?
Holy Peak Uni Watch Batman!
So much goodness today. First off: I grew up literally within walking distance of the Coliseum and saw at least a dozen Nets games (and close to triple figures of Isles games) and NEVER noticed the missing stripe. Literally shocked at this am’s post. I may not have been as uni observant as Paul growing up, but I can’t believe I never noticed the missing stripe. At first I thought it might have happened in the very early 70s, before I went to my first game (which I believe was 1973), but it definitely occurred after then. Dr. J and Bill Melchionni were two of my favorite players, and it looks like Julius is missing the stripe here too: link
Thanks for going down the rabbit hole Paul!
The Pitt script is also fascinating. Never paid much attention to the fact that the helmets don’t have the “i” but the ladies hoops do…now it’s going to bug me.
And finally, perfect cuffs on Nathan!
Ahhh…the Nassau Veterans Memorial Mausoleum….a good portion of my mis-spent youth involved the old barn, and prior to that the Island Gardens and Commack Arena – good times
HAH! So I decided to see if Bill Melchionni had the stripe, or not, during his tenure with the Nets. Turns out (at least from the photos in this link), he was missing the stripe on the white jersey for the two seasons he wore it, and one year he HAD the stripe and one year he DIDN’T, on the blue jersey!
Such a fun rabbit hole…
Should be one of basketball’s classic designs, not baseball. Although if this were a baseball uniform, it would also be a classic.
Oh and recommend calling the phenomenon “Sansastripe”.
“And what should we call this phenomenon?”
The stripped stripe
You used “baseball” instead of “basketball” in that story.
Good catches on the stripe and Pitt dotted i! I never noticed it wasn’t dotted and I wonder if it’s going to bother me moving forward…
The Pirates added a dotless “i” logo a few years ago the never fails to annoy me. Maybe the Pitt logo was the inspiration: link
Oddly enough the design works with or without the second back stripe (assuming the shorts match).
I was never aware of this inconsistency, and if you presented both versions asking me which was the correct one I wouldn’t have known.
I mean, it’s gotta be Net Loss, right?
Any evidence that the stripe went missing when the Nets brought the set back in ’83?
I’ve spent the last 40 minutes searching through photos from 1983-1990 and I’ve not found any evidence of any missing stripes as of yet.
Could be a secret viral ad campaign for Red Stripe beer?
Maybe the stripe and non stripe jerseys were from a different year and sometimes mixed together?
Yet another situation where I will never be able to look at the old Nets uniforms and NOT look to see if the back stripe is there. Paul strikes again!
Unless I’m missing it in one of the photos, they all seem to show the players’ left side. Any idea if, in the cases where the stripe is missing, it’s also missing on the players’ right side? I suspect whoever provided their unis just screwed up one year, and provided the home/road jerseys without one or both back stripes. The team either didn’t notice (like the rest of us) or didn’t think much about it, and somehow they got intermingled with the team’s stock. It would be really something if we found out the stripe was missing on only one side.
The uni design has striping only on the left side, not the right.
Oh for God’s sake, I’m an idiot… To answer my own question, “Yes, it was always missing from the right side dumbass.” Holy crap am I embarrassed.
Looks like some knockoffs also featured the missing stripe (or would that be “were missing the stripe)?
It looks like that knock off in the link has the stripe though, on the back of the shirt.
Oh shit, yes…but it’s so far off it didn’t even compute. Yep, it’s there…just really, really poorly done.
Just a cheap screen job on a very cheap-looking tank top. Based on the close-up of the collar, it looks very thin.
That’s not a knock-off, it’s a freebie “jersey” the Nets gave away when they retired Doc’s number in 1987. You can see piles of them at the start of this video:
Doug Keklak —
Hail to Pitt.
Count this Hicksville native among the NY Nets and Uni Watch fans here who NEVER noticed the missing stripe when those uniforms were worn, whether in person at the Coliseum, during the very rare TV broadcasts (at least until Cablevision arrived) or in Newsday game photos. I loved drawing uniforms as a kid and would bet I never drew a Nets uni that didn’t include both stripes. And to think there were games where both the single- and two-stripe unis were worn – unbelievable!
As others implied, this post was really jarring and a perfect example of why UW is by far my favorite blog and I would argue the best, most comprehensive blog of any type on the internet today.
It’s also a fantastic reminder of how truly weird and wonderful the ABA was. I miss the league to this day.
Such great work!
Thanks for the kind words, Art!
Do you still have any of your childhood uni drawings?
I’ve had a poster of ABA-era Doc since I was 14 – it’s graced countless walls over the past 30-odd years. Sure enough, Doc’s missing the back stripe! I’ve looked at that poster thousands of times and I’ve never noticed that before.
The Nets stripe mystery is great fun to contemplate, but I’d love to give a shoutout to the Field of Beans mosaic on the backs of those jerseys. That is a wonder to behold.
Those old enough to remember can recall the all-encompassing blitz of the Nation’s Bicentennial; any team with a patriotic angle (and New York, the media capital of the world) wore star-spangled uniforms. Even Michigan’s license plates looked like American flags; the rationale being Detroit’s status as the US’s automaking capital. In advertisements, Michigan’s plates were on nearly every new car.
Fair point Walter, but the Nets (even in their first NJ iteration — they were born as the “New Jersey Americans” way back in 1967) have always been a r/w/b team, and their first uniforms (link) had that S&S motif…so I wouldn’t lump them in with the Bicentennial “blitz.” The S&S were always a part of the Nets’ motif. I could see if they changed to a more patriotic theme closer to 1976, but even the uni represented in today’s post was first worn in 1972.
That’s right, I’d forgotten about the Americans, maybe it was easier to fit NETS on the front of the jersey. A shakier case was made by the Utah Stars, though they were briefly the Los Angeles Stars, a city with a stronger claim to the “Media Capital” title.
I’m sure you’ll recall that NY had both “Mets” and “Jets,” so “Nets” (when they moved to NY) went along with that theme. Even the WTT (World Team Tennis) got in on the action, with their team becoming the “Sets” — before changing to “Apples” later on. I saw a couple NY Sets matches in the Coliseum as a kid.
Nets, of course, works on two levels — rhyme (with Mets/Jets) and hoop (net). I always thought that was a genius move on their part.
More on the Sets, if you so desire (link)
Don’t forget the New York Bets! (An OTB ad campaign.)
Oh dear god. I had buried the memories of that commercial deep into the recesses of my brain-pan…and now…I will be humming that friggin’ tune all night.
Thanks for the Michigan license plate shout-out. Everyone’s grandfather in the tri-county area has one in their garage.
I built a lot of model cars back in the day and a pair of Michigan plates were always included on the decal sheet.
Great post. As an aside…while that Nets uni is one of my all-time favorites, I’ve always sort of wished that the NETS or the number on the home whites had been rendered in blue.
For me the NETS in red and the number in blue would have been even better.
Love the article on the Nets’ uniform. Count me among those who never noticed the missing stripe at games I saw at the Long Island Arena in Commack or the Coliseum. I remember drawing their uniforms, too! Billy Paultz was my favorite until they traded him away. Did we all share the same childhood?
Regarding the motif: I assume the stars and stripes were holdovers from the team’s NJ Americans days but it doesn’t appear as though they wore stripes down the sides.
Most appropriate that you’d post this lede on Dr. J’s birthday. Well played, sir.
Good point! Happy birthday, Dr J!
Was not intentional on my part, but sometimes things work out nicely!
That missing stripe is extra jarring as this is one of the best if not the best basketball uniform ever. Must be a supplier thing, which brands made the uniforms over those years? Did the Nets switch brands at one point and got stuck with a bunch of shirts with missing stripes? And why did it not affect the shorts, did they stick with the same brand for shorts? By the way, that Utah Stars uniform is very cool as well.
My thoughts are 2 logical explanations, they had 2 different uni manufacturers, like some pro teams in 70s. Or some of jerseys were manufactured wrong and didn’t want to fix cause of costs. Which basically means they didn’t care, ABA jerseys were not main stream or let alone merchandise sellers.
Does anyone know why in 1976 Dr. J still wore his NETS socks while playing for the 76ers? Maybe because of superstition? Today teams will not let you wear gear from other teams in the locker room. I remember being a kid and thinking it was odd that a couple of players for the Philadelphia Bell would wear t shirts from other teams under their shoulder pads. A couple of the players came from the San Diego Chargers and wore t shirts with the Chargers helmet with a single bar facemask and no team name on the shirt. I have seen a picture on google images of Johnny Unitas with Duane Thomas wearing the same shirts. I’m not sure head coach Ron Waller would have even noticed that, every time I had a uniform question for him, he never had an answer.
Using the team photo as a barometer, the ´76 76ers socks were a mixture of styles:
I´ve seen photos of Dr. J wearing the a number of variations that season.
Whatever the reason was for him to wear those Nets numbers (which looked great BTW), I´d like to think that it was not because owner Fitz Eugene Dixon Jr. wanted to save a buck…unlike former Eagles CEO/notorious penny-pincher Norman Braman who made players pay for socks.
Wow! thanks for that picture, I had a b & w version of this team photo as a kid, didn’t realize back then that just about every player in the first row had different socks on. Go to any amusement park in the late 70’s and kids had on the kind of tube socks pulled up to their knees like Darryl Dawkins has on.
Good stuff today… I will never get tired of looking at 1970s era sports photography, I just love the look on film (rather than all the digital of today).
I can never get enough of this uniform with its 5 stars on the side: 5 players in a team on the court.
Hey Paul! Is it just coincidence that you ran this on Dr. J’s birthday (2/22/50)?
Yes! I didn’t even realize. Just worked out that way.
Really great content today!
These quirks were lurking right under our noses all this time…great finds, Christopher and Doug.
I believe the dot over the i is called a tittle. Talk about keeping it sports related!
The commack arena.
Hey Paul, Thanks for the shout-out on this Nets thing – I’m really glad I shot you that email. I’m absolutely shocked so many didn’t notice, as it drove me crazy as a teenager. Maybe I’m just nuts. I would absolutely LOVE to know the ‘why’ of this stripe – my original thoughts back in the day just assumed an under-budgeted staff and a tired seamstress. Maybe that’s because during the same era, I sent a handwritten letter to the ABA league offices asking for info, stickers, posters, photos, etc. A week later, I received a thank you letter from the commissioner on ABA stationary and a mimeographed sheet with the rosters of the seven remaining teams, but only after our mailman knocked on the door and demanded money. It was my first experience with the concept of “postage due” – in this case, 8 cents. Man that league was awesome!!!!
The Postage Due response fits my recollections of the ABA in Pittsburgh perfectly.
I was looking over at link and have seen the Nets red stripe appearing only for he final two ABA seasons, 74-75 and 75-76 and yet inconsistencies still rule. Kim Hughes never has a stripe. It’s the craziest thing.