As the NBA celebrates its 75e anniversary season, league teams will be launching new uniforms starting on Christmas Day that will seek to blend design details and elements of their franchise’s history into a unified look and fresh expression.
After the eight-year, billion-dollar partnership between Nike and the NBA began in 2017, design and marketing teams based in Beaverton, Oregon, and Secaucus, New Jersey, were considering the season 2021-22 as a pivotal year for the association.
â€œWe went to Nike in August 2019,â€ said Christopher Arena, head of NBA on-field brand partnerships, â€œand said,â€œ Hey, we’ve got the 75e anniversary season [coming up], how are we going to celebrate it? ‘ “
For the 1996-97 regular season, the 50e anniversary year and final milestone season to receive so much planning, a select group of original franchises wore Hardwood Classics uniforms that honored a historic chapter in each team’s history.
Coming before the dawn of the return swimsuit era at the turn of the century, the celebration was short-lived, with looks from the past only worn a few times. The gold-contoured NBA logo affixed to the jerseys and shorts of all teams at the time became the memorable detail incorporated for the Golden Anniversary.
This time around, according to Arena, Nike returned to the league with a simple idea and a starting point: â€œRemember the mixtape you would do? Let’s just do that – take all these different eras and put them together. ”
Chapters from decades of original franchises such as the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors to the mix of contrasting hues and eras worn by teams such as the Detroit Pistons in celebration of championship seasons for the Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks and Portland Trail Blazers, each team’s execution merges a bundle of discovery elements and nuances.
â€œThere is a tapestry of NBA history, all in one place,â€ Arena said.
All but two of the teams will release new editions in late December and early 2022. The Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns will repeat their beloved City Edition looks that celebrated red rocks and national parks of Utah and the desert landscape of the Valley of the Sun.
Throughout the year, the league makes the match-by-match uniform selections available for each team to view in advance on its new Locker Vision website.
A twist on the added golden anniversary logo found on the 50e jerseys of the season, this year’s diamond anniversary is highlighted with a fractal, iridescent diamond-textured league logo on all team jerseys, shorts and accessories, with “75” replacing the standard NBA lettering alongside it of Jerry West’s silhouette.
Since starting with Nike in 2017, each team has received four annual jerseys in their rotation – a white ‘Association’ look, the ‘Icon’ uniform in its key color, a ‘Statement’ jersey with a bolder approach, and its City Edition telling a local or franchise specific story. This year, only the three original franchises of the Celtics, Knicks and Warriors will also don a fifth jersey, their Classic edition.
A total of 123 different uniforms will be worn this season by the 30 teams. While City’s approach throughout the season seems, by definition, to highlight the past, the idea also seeks to fuel a future fan base with an understanding of the league’s legacy.
â€œIt’s about inviting the next generation to join us,â€ said Jesse Alvarez, product director of global sportswear for men’s basketball at Nike. “You can put stories on a uniform, and the uniform can become a bridge to this next generation.”
Although the Trail Blazers last won a championship in 1977, their nickname “Rip City” from announcer Bill Schonely reads on the front of their new jersey, complete with a basic look and shadow letters. scope inspired by their early 1990s team returning from the NBA Finals. A plaid panel along the side of the jersey and shorts is reminiscent of the patterned suits worn by championship coach Jack Ramsay.
Designed in a clean, classic green and white look, the Boston Celtics City uniform features details such as the subtle light gray cloud graphic that runs through the side panel of the shorts, a nod to the cigar smoke of victory. from coach Red Auerbach. The adjacent clover features “RED” inside, and the league’s largest narration of the location of the league size labels incorporates a tribute to every retired player number in franchise history and 17 years. championship.
Other teams, such as the Los Angeles Lakers, have chosen to mix key colors from different chapters, such as the light blue of the â€œMPLSâ€ jerseys worn in the Minnesota era and the iconic purple of the LA era.
The Pistons mixed blue and red with their short-lived ’90s teal hue – an ambitious task on paper – while the Charlotte Hornets and Houston Rockets rounded up all of their most popular jersey graphics and home field iconography. noisy in a fusion of several eras.
Following the success of their pink and teal â€œViceâ€ uniforms, which totaled $ 25 million in sales over five seasons, the Miami Heat has taken a turning point with its latest take on the City Edition.
All lettering on their jersey and shorts incorporates typeface from a different chapter in franchise history, dating back to his days back in Florida, bold red alternate jerseys worn by icons Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway to the 2006 Championship season and, of course, the â€œHeatlesâ€ era of the 2010s. Players can also select the font for each of the jersey numbers, making the Heat the only team with specific design differences. players.
â€œToronto is one of the uniforms where they have a great mix of things that are important to their fans, but also, that tells a story about their organization,â€ noted Alvarez.
Designed in the black and gold that has become associated with the Toronto Raptors’ “OVO Night” themes and tied to rapper Drake’s long-standing connection with the city and the team, the jersey features the “Big Dino” graphic on front of their first 1995-96 season and early years Vince Carter.
However, the dribbling Raptor himself wears a “North” jersey and the No. 19, a reference to the jersey the team wore when they won the 2019 NBA Championship, the only title in franchise history.
At first glance, creating as many as four or even five new uniforms for each team each season can be a lofty goal doomed to run out of rich and new stories. The ongoing uniform rotation has apparently started to skyrocket as the teams now enter the fifth year of the Nike partnership.
Nike and the NBA don’t see it that way, as they seek to unveil the 75e The new batch of Anniversary Season City Editions to highlight the biggest design elements and moments from every franchise in league history, with designs for the next three seasons nearing completion.
â€œThe best thing about basketball is that teams are constantly writing the next chapter of their book,â€ Alvarez said. “As the seasons go by, we have more and more inspiration to draw from.”