Welcome to our review of the NBA’s 2020-2021 uniforms! Let’s dive in and summarize the good, the bad, and the perplexing. Our criteria are simple. We will cover new jerseys introduced for the 2020-21 NBA season to figure out which ones caught fire and which ones hit a funny fashion bone. Style and symbolism carry most of the weight, while alternate courts play a factor in each opinion. Here we go…
Pinstripes (Charlotte, Chicago, Indiana, Orlando)
Fashion trends come and go … and come back again. Pinstripes are in! The only thing better than pinstripes? DOUBLE pinstripes. MJ’s Hornets are ushering in a new era of stripes. They even tried a disjointed pinstripe in their “Buzz City” edition unis, which works well. Their alternate court was great in theory but less so in practice. I loved the classic Charlotte “paint outside of the paint” approach, but this year it’s too bright and makes the game difficult to watch.
Meanwhile, MJ’s old team (whose striped black jerseys in the ’90s were the gold standard) showcases what the modern pinstripe can be … subtle. Almost like a holograph. You only see them when you look close enough and have the proper light and angle. Every team should adopt their version. How cool would diagonal pinstripes look on a Blazers jersey if done right?
Denver Nuggets (City Edition)
It isn’t easy to put a modern spin on an already retro look, but the Nuggets have pulled it off. The blockaded city skyline with the mountains in the background are nothing new, but Denver has shoved their tertiary color to the forefront here, and it works. If you’ve ever hiked the area, you know The Flatirons in Boulder are one of the most unique landmarks around. They emanate a red hue that is fit for a jersey … Not to mention the colors of the beautiful Denver sunsets. More teams are bringing their background colors to the foreground, and this is how to do it.
Los Angeles Lakers (City Edition)
Finally! The Lakers are going back to their roots, and it’s long overdue. Few can recall the days of watching Baylor and West live. Plus, most of the highlights from that era are in black and white, so you don’t really get to appreciate the powder blue. It’s been 54 years since the Lakers donned the blue, and it’s a breath of fresh air.
Memphis Grizzlies (Throwback Edition)
These jerseys aren’t the most inspiring of the bunch, but they serve their purpose. The red and turquoise trimmings coupled with the complementary alternate court make me feel like I’m back in Vancouver. Before you know it, Mike Bibby, Stromile Swift, and Sharif Abdur-Rahim are going to pop off the bench.
Oklahoma City Thunder (City Edition)
It should be called the “State Edition” since it’s the first time the word “Oklahoma” takes center stage on a Thunder jersey without the word “City.” The design is a clean and straightforward diagonal look that conjures up memories of one of the Pacers’ classic 90’s kits. It’s a concrete change of pace for a franchise that has never derived their identity from a different logo.
San Antonio Spurs (City Edition)
These are among the best of the lot. Who could forget the 14 years of teal, pink, and orange weaved into the San Antonio franchise fabric? They are the colors in which they captured their first NBA title. Granted, those colors as primaries were likely a bit much … so the franchise hit a home run when they simply swiped a tri-colored brush stroke across the chest. We can reminisce confidently without ever having to go back and play another NBA game in the Alamo Dome.
Utah Jazz (City Edition)
Perhaps no jersey has been more polarizing than Utah’s first set of Elevation jerseys. You either loved them or hated them. I was a big fan, and the very slight but noticeable change they made to this year’s edition cap them off as my favorite new kit of 2020-2021. The change? … Condense the brighter colors by confining them to a smaller space. With the black portion acting as a solid “base” for the jersey, the red, orange and yellow now serve as accents. This way, you can still get the elevation change’s intended effects without needing to see the entire uniform (The gradient encompassed the top and bottom half of the jersey last year). This will make it a more attractive purchase for fans as well. And, of course, the new alternate court pairs with the uniform like a fine wine.
Brooklyn Nets (Classic Edition)
The tie-dye is earmarked as a “fan favorite,” but I don’t see it. This feels out of place, and there are several other classic options that suit the franchise better. I’d love to see KD, Kyrie, and Harden’s trio in the traditional “Stars and Stripes” uniforms of the ABA and late ’80s. You could also revive the cursive font the team used for a few years in the early ’80s and give it a modern spin with “Brooklyn” across the chest. Though the Warriors can put “Oakland” on the front of a Classic jersey in 2021, the Nets can pay homage to the state they called home for 36 years. That said, the jerseys help compliment the blue and red alternate court.
Circular Emblems (Detroit and New York)
The Pistons have struggled for a few years now to find the right way to celebrate the “Motor City.” They churned out those awful grey jerseys that were literally run over by a car. These are better, but that wasn’t a difficult task. This time, they went for the “car emblem” look, and its warped font doesn’t come off well. It’s just too busy. The “Detroit, Michigan” addition is creative but unnecessary. Less is more.
The same can be said about the Knicks’ City Edition jerseys. I’m surprised they have never gone with a circular text pattern before. I feel like they would be a great fit as a franchise for that retro look, but their first attempt at such a design wreaks of laziness. It’s supposed to be “The City That Never Sleeps”… Omitting the words “The” and “That” to cram the rest of the phrase onto a jersey feels like the higher-ups making those decisions don’t give a rat’s patoot. Oh wait, that’s James Dolan … I guess they don’t.
Miami Heat (Miami Vice Edition)
Hungry? Take your pick … Rainbow Sherbet or Cotton Candy? Whoever designed these jerseys had a lot of fun using the gradient tool in PhotoShop for the first time. In all fairness, it would be tough to top the Vice jerseys of the past, but this was a total flop. I get it … the “Miami Vice” motif represents all that encompasses the city and its nightlife. Unfortunately, not even the new Vice alternate court can save this one. Please take me back to the subtle pink trimmings, and all will be forgiven.
Minnesota Timberwolves (Statement Jersey)
Ok, I know the criteria for this article is new jerseys only … So what are these hideous green monstrosities doing in the league for FOUR YEARS?! When asking my Minnesota friends their opinions, they responded with vulgarities, the likes of which are not suitable for public consumption. Burn them … NOW.
I’m just intrigued:
Sometimes, you see a jersey for the first time, and you’re caught in the middle. Do I like what I see, or am I repulsed by it? The honest answer … Some jerseys take time to develop a true sentiment. Let’s dive into those where the jury is still deliberating…
Boston Celtics (City Edition)
The City and Team Nickname are prominently displayed above the number. They are designed to resemble the 17 championship banners hanging overhead. The conundrum … Is the text too busy? After watching the C’s wear this jersey a few times, they are growing on me. It doesn’t feel like too much since the font remains basic, and the rest of the jersey merely is there to complement the main attraction. I don’t see these lasting more than a year, though.
Milwaukee Bucks (City Edition)
This jersey is the epitome of this section of our reviews. I don’t love them. I don’t dislike them. The problem is that when you tune into a game and you see a team wearing three shades of blue, Milwaukee is pretty much the last team you’d expect. If the league wanted to play a prank on everybody, they’d put Giannis out there in these Blues against Luka in the Mavs’ Classic Greens. The Bucks started incorporating “Great Lakes Blue” into their color palette in 2015. Am I the only one who missed that memo? Give it a few years of consistency, and our eyes will adjust.
Elevation and Landscape (Phoenix and Portland)
The Jazz were the modern-day pioneers when it comes to honoring altitude. Now, other teams are trying to put their stamps on their respective landscapes. Phoenix is off to a good start with “The Valley,” but there is room for improvement over the blockaded gradient. Like OKC, Portland is honoring the state by throwing “Oregon” on the front of the jersey. The elevation glorification comes in the form of the mountainous trim down the sides—a subtle touch.
Washington Wizards (City Edition)
The Wizards have a storied history of mediocre jerseys (See: Every Bullets jersey ever made), and this year’s City Edition doesn’t do much to break the mold; however, they did get one thing right. The American Flag trim down the sides of the jerseys is an absolute winner. It’s extremely rare (and difficult) to make the trim the highlight of a jersey. In this particular case, the stars and stripes being highlighted are perfect for the team to represent America’s Capital City.