Monday, May 16, 2016

My Top 20 Favorite NBA jersey designs

Unlike my previous countdown, they will all be here in one post!

I finally made up a logo to celebrate my 20th Anniversary of being an NBA fan...not sure why I bothered at this point as this is the last post I currently have an idea for to celebrate my 20th year. Consider this part of the previous countdown posts that just wasn't posted.

Keep in mind this list is totally my personal favorite design list...and it's totally subjective to me. You'll notice a few things right off the bat- it's very much influenced by my favorite era of the game, I don't really like solid colors, and I really like pinstripes.

So, without further ado....let's begin at #20. 

2012-13 Hoops Rookie Impact #20
#20 Charlotte Bobcats road standard 2009-10 through 2011-12
The second Charlotte franchise has only been in existence since 2004-05, but they are already on their second team name and 5th regular jersey design. This was the third standard road jersey and at three seasons used it's the second longest used of any design in team history, although that is likely to change as they have found an identity they like with the team renamed the Charlotte Hornets. I've always liked the color gray, and I've always liked pinstripes, but it was a toss-up for this one to make the list, it narrowly beat out the Kings alternate of the mid-1990s. 

1997-98 Fleer #91
#19 Chicago Bulls black with red pinstripe alternate, 1995-96 and 1996-97
I have to admit, I was not a Bulls fan at all during this time frame- I was a Nets, Knicks and Jazz fan back then...all of whom were crushed by the Bulls on a regular basis, and for the Jazz, in the NBA Finals, no less. But these pinstriped jerseys were great. They only wore them for two seasons, and then they removed the pinstripes. The Bulls, for some reason, tended to lose when they wore the black with red pinstripes. That's not why I like them, of course, but it is an interesting fact, and it's also why they changed them after only two seasons. Rodman was my favorite player on the team from that time period. 

2007-08 Ultra Retail #198
#18 Washington Wizards alternate, 2006-07 through 2008-09
This is the only jersey on the list I don't believe I ever saw a game where it was worn. I was mostly out of the NBA the three years it was worn, something I now regret big time. The jersey is shiny, reflective gold while the shorts are simply black with white and gold trim. I am 99% sure the first time I saw this jersey design was when I added this very card to my collection. I still prefer Bullets to Wizards, myself. 

1999-00 Black Diamond #32
#17 Indiana Pacers yellow alternate, 1999-00 through 2004-05
More pinstripes...and yellow. I have found that recently I have discovered that I really like the color yellow- much more than I did before. Whatever the reason, these yellow with blue pinstripes alternates were great jerseys. I watched the Pacers every chance I could get, mostly because of Rik Smits, who appears on this card, and is an "adopted hometown hero", as he went to college in Poughkeepsie, at Marist. That was not always a fun team to watch as I really don't care too much for Reggie Miller, unquestionably the star of the team- and probably the best player the Pacers have had in their NBA lifetime. The standard road jersey was a reverse of this, blue with yellow pinstripes...and it nearly made this countdown as well. 

2003-04 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection #65
#16 New Jersey Nets gray alternate, 2000-01 through 2004-05
I've written about this jersey before, when I did my Uniform History: Nets post, and it's still one of my favorites. It's also the closest to a solid color you will see on this countdown! 

1993-94 Hoops #336
#15 Golden State Warriors with trolley car on back
This is the jersey I know the least about. I suspect it may be a throwback to when the Warriors were in San Francisco. I don't know for sure. This is the only image I've ever seen of the jersey, I don't even know what the front looks like. But that trolley car alone is cool enough to put it well into my Top 20 list! 

2003-04 UD Glass #22
#14 Los Angeles Clippers blue alternate, 2002-03 through 2009-10
You had to know Elton would appear here somewhere! I always root for the underdog teams- and it doesn't get much more underdog than the Clippers, at least when I started watching the game. When they traded for Elton before the 2001-02 season, the Clippers locked themselves in as my 2nd favorite team. (whatever team Elton is playing for is #2, behind the Nets). Elton spent his best years with the Clippers, unfortunately. He had little help and when they did bring in talent they would go down with injury like clockwork. And I didn't even KNOW all the horrible things the team owner was doing. These blues were the alternate to the normal reds, which looked pretty much alike except the blue and red (in the Clippers name) were reversed, with the red jersey's number being white. I like the red jersey design as well, but it did not crack the top 20. I still wear my replica version of this jersey on a fairly regular basis.

1992-93 Fleer #401
#13 Orlando Magic road standard 1989-90 through 1997-98
The Magic came into the NBA in 1989-90 and they have always had cool jerseys. Although it didn't make the list, their home white from 1989-98 very nearly made the countdown. 
This jersey was their original road jersey and somewhat unusually, it made the switch from standard jersey to alternate, being worn as the alternate from 1994-95 through 1997-98, when the standard road jersey became blue. 

1972-73 Topps #5
#12 Atlanta Hawks 1970-71 and 1971-72 alternate
Now obviously I didn't get to see this jersey being worn when it was current, as I was not born until 1984. But...the Hawks did wear this as a throwback in the mid-2000s. (I have a Jason Terry replica in my wearing stash) I saw the throwback night so on a technicality I did see this jersey being worn. It's very bright...not really captured in the scan. It's not neon, but it's really, really bright! 

2015-16 Donruss #7
#11 Atlanta Hawks 2015-16 through ? road standard
We go from the oldest jersey design on the list, to the newest, as the Hawks debuted an all-new brand identity this current season. The Hawks' new jerseys feature a very unusual design pattern that they call feathers but is really just a series of triangles. It looks very cool. I actually like the red alternate slightly better, but the alternate only says ATL- and I hate abbreviations, especially on jerseys. It was enough to keep the alternate off the list. The white home jersey also has the design. Something not really captured on the card- the yellow trim is neon. Really, truly neon. I grew up in the 1990s, neon is something I love, and this is, surprisingly, the first time neon has ever truly appeared on an NBA jersey. The red may be neon as well- I'm not 100% sure- you can tell on the TV broadcasts that the yellow really glows but the red is harder to tell. It might. I suspect I won't know until/if I get a patch from the new design. This is a very complex and unique jersey design, which probably means that they won't wear it for a long time, which is a shame. This is the only jersey design to make my Top 20 that's currently being worn.

1996-97 Stadium Club #145
#10 Charlotte Hornets purple alternate, 1994-95 and 1995-96
I've always had an affinity for the Charlotte Hornets, largely for two reasons- the fact that the first NBA game I ever watched was a Hornets game, and because of this guy, Muggsy Bogues, one of my all-time favorite players. The Hornets have always had teal and purple as team colors, and, lo and behold, more pinstripes. While teal has always been the primary color of the original Hornets (both in Charlotte and New Orleans) they have worn purple as an alternate and the first time was in 1994-95 an 1995-96, in this jersey. The current Hornets team, which was the Bobcats, also wear purple and teal but they aren't as nice as the originals, at least in my opinion. 

1996-97 Hoops #165
#9 Vancouver Grizzlies 1995-96 through 1999-00 road standard
Remember I said above that the list will be heavily favored by my favorite era? You should know that's the mid-1990s. I have always favored the Grizzlies and Raptors, mainly because they both entered the league the same year I did- 1995-96. the Raptors have always found more success than the Grizzlies did, especially in the early days. The Grizzlies wore these great seafoam green designs when they entered the league, and they wore them until 1999-00, although they started to phase them out in 1998-99, when the black alternate design was introduced and began to be used more and more. (The black alternates would become the standard road jersey in 2000-01, the Grizzlies' final year in Canada, although like I say, they were the de facto road jersey in 1999-00 as well. I never noticed, or forgot, that these jerseys- or at least the shorts- are asymmetrical- until I began scanning my card collection. 

1996-97 Collector's Choice #201
#8 Atlanta Hawks home standard, 1995-96 through 1998-99
The Hawks' third and final appearance on the countdown, surprising as the Hawks have never been my favorite team, which is not to say I root against them- they are just kind of there to me.
This is also the only home white design to make my Top 20. White jerseys are just kind of boring- but this one has a great hawk design that puts it well into the Top 20, and even into the top 10. When I went to get this image, I was originally planning to have the road black here, but the home white is actually a better design; the road jersey has a wide red area under the hawk design and down into the pants, it detracts from the overall design.

1996-97 Stadium Club Shining Moments #SM4
#7 Houston Rockets road standard, 1995-96 through 2002-03
Look at that, more pinstripes! This design's home white was the first two cards out of my first ever pack, the only two cards I remember from pack #1. These jerseys are actually dark blue, although they do appear black sometimes. They are not. When I got a patch card of Steve Francis from this jersey was the first time I realized that the jerseys had shiny, metallic, sparkling threads in the patches. The number, the Rockets logo- all metallic silver. Once I knew what to look for I was able to to determine that several teams have been using that kind of thread since at least the 1989-90 season!
Positions 7 through 2 were actually the hardest for me to figure out- 7 and 6 are a virtual tie, and 2-4 would probably be different every day, just how I am feeling as I write this on May 16th, 2016 is how they got ranked for this countdown. 

1993-94 Ultra #16
#6 Charlotte Hornets road standard, 1988-89 through 1995-96
I talked about the Hornets above, when their purple alternate made the list. But this is the jersey I think about when I think about the Charlotte Hornets. That is despite the fact that they only wore this jersey for half a season that I saw; they added more stripes to the side in 1996-97, but that's not the iconic jersey to me. 

1994-95 Collector's Choice #199
#5 Phoenix Suns road standard, 1992-93 through 1999-00
I've never been a big fan of the Suns. They aren't my least favorite team...but they are close to it. If I were to rank the 30 teams in the league in order of favorites...they would be below #25. (I don't plan to make that list, because basically there's #1, then a tie from #2-26 and then a few teams I don't care for...but I still watch all of them and collect cards of all of them). But they had this great design as their road standard from 1992-93 through 1999-00, and it's a great design. Good enough that it made my top 5! They also had a black alternate which switched the black and purple, and the home jersey was the same design but the white in the logos and the purple of the field are reversed. 
1996-97 Collector's Choice #111
#4 Orlando Magic road standard 1994-95 through 1997-98
The Magic appear again on the list. Like I said with their original road uniform, they have usually had great jerseys. This one is my favorite in franchise history, and was what they were wearing when I discovered the sport, which make up exactly half this Top 20 countdown. There aren't many players who epitomize the 1990s like Penny Hardaway. 

1993-94 Upper Deck Special Edition Electric Court #52
#3 Philadelphia 76ers road standard 1991-92 through 1993-94
The most colorful jersey design in the 76ers' long history, like most complex jersey designs it lasted only three years before being replaced by a single color design. What is not really visible on this card is that the color/star stripe comes out of the belt and goes down onto the left leg. Even with the abbreviation on the front I liked these enough to rank them #3. 

1996-97 Hoops #153
#2 Toronto Raptors road standard, 1995-96 through 1998-99
When I wrote up my Uniform History: Toronto Raptors post (not yet posted!) I stated that this jersey design was one of my all time favorites. When making up this post today, I realized how true that really was- this jersey ranked in at #2! This was the Raptors road standard from the team's foundation through the lockout shortened 1998-99 season, and was worn as a throwback in 2014-15 to celebrate the Raptors' 20th Anniversary. As I stated above the Raptors and Grizzlies have always been teams I've been drawn to as their history is closely intertwined with mine with the sport. The Raptors have had more stability than the Grizzlies, but they hadn't found as much on-court success. The Grizzlies moved to Memphis in 2001-02 and made it to the conference finals, the Raptors had only ever won one playoff series...until this year. Tomorrow, the Raptors will be playing in the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in franchise history. 

And now...are you ready to see my all time favorite NBA jersey design....


any guesses as to what it might be?

I'll give you a hint, it's from the 1990s....

1996-97 Fleer #62
#1 Milwaukee Bucks alternate, 1995-96 through 1999-00
What a great design! Of course, by being my all-time favorite NBA jersey, I think that'd be a given. The Bucks wore this jersey as an alternate in 1995-96 through 1999-00, although some sources say they last wore it in 1998-99. It was worn again as a throwback in 2012-13 or 2013-14. (or possibly both- there is nowhere I know of to see where/when throwbacks were worn so I'm going off memory)
I first learned of this jersey when I saw it being worn in a game in 1996-97. It's green, my favorite color. It's got a cool graphic design, in the buck itself. The text is interesting in that the Bucks logo fades, from white to purple, which is more visually interesting than a single color.

It's been my favorite since the first time I ever saw it, it just clicked with me. 

Thanks for reading! My 20th anniversary season is rapidly coming to a close - the conference finals start tonight- and this is the 22nd and final post that I have planned to celebrate my 20th anniversary of watching the NBA. If anybody has read them all, I appreciate it.


  1. MUGGSY!!!!! Yay! Man, this whole blog is my favorite....way too many cool things to comment on. I like almost all of the jerseys, but you know me, the sparkle threads get me every time.

  2. I see the Jerry West logo on your anniversary one, you know, it would have been better if you could have put a beard that matches yours on it....just sayin'..... :)

  3. I agree with a lot of your selections, but I would have displaced a couple of them (maybe some of the Nets, Wizards, or Pacers unis) to make room for the Denver Nuggets road 1985-86 through 1992-93 and both Houston Rockets home and road 1976-77 through 1994-95 uniforms. I love the Orlando and Charlotte uniforms you picked, as well as the Raptors, Suns, and Rockets uniforms you picked.

    1. Hmm...I forgot those Nuggets ones. Their 2003-04 through 2014-15 road blues almost made the list as well. I do like the Rockets' uniforms you mention as well but not in my top 20 list. I like their old San Diego uniforms too, the green with yellow. So many cool designs have been worn that it made it tough to pick 20. I have a Yao throwback to jerseys you mention that I wear sometimes.