I spend in an inordinate amount of time on NBA league pass. Whether it’s watching my Sixers from a dorm in Illinois, or watching a marquee game that didn’t get a national time slot, or even randomly deciding to watch a Cavs-Kings game in mid-February, I find myself opening a tab and watching the games.
That means I see a lot of different NBA jerseys. A lot of fans, especially younger ones, are super into jerseys. I personally care more about the action on the court, but I do start to form opinions after seeing each of these designs night after night.
A lot of my content is “smarter-than-thou” basketball analysis of what I’ve been watching. It’s not that I don’t love that and won’t keep producing it, but I thought it was about time I did something stupid, er, I mean fun.
That’s right. You’re getting my full opinion on all of the 2019-20 city edition jerseys that Nike handed out to the teams this year. And yes, you are getting an artistic critique from the same guy that barely got a 93 in middle school art despite being the only one in the whole class who turned his homework in on time.
Enjoy, and feel free to tell me how stupid I am down below.
(THE MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES DISCLAIMER)
Fact, these are not only the best jerseys in the NBA this year, but the best jerseys of all time.
Also a fact: These are not the best city edition jerseys in the 2019-20 season because the Grizzlies were the only team in the NBA to not get a city edition jersey.
Ultimately, I’m okay with this. There would be no competition if these qualified. They’re just too clean.
So no ranking for the Grizzlies, but I think they’re okay with instead bringing back one of the most beloved jerseys of all time as they enter a new era in their franchise.
29. Detroit Pistons
Something this graphically horrible shouldn’t be easily accessible to the public. You should have to sign some inappropriate content waiver, or pay to see it because you like hurting your eyes.
It’s like the Pistons’ public relations director watched a Barcelona soccer game, realized that they have the same color scheme, took four shots of Five Hour Energy then went ballistic.
The explanation is that the two vertical stripes represent road lines (because they’re the Pistons … get it) and the team’s drive to win. More accurately the jerseys look like they were run over and left with skid marks—not exactly a great image for a team that is currently 12-23.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves
MSP stands for Minneapolis-Saint Paul, the twin cities that the team and all other Minnesota sports franchises are located in. The fact that I have to explain that is the problem in and of itself.
The jersey isn’t horrible to look at it, but it screams boring and dull. You see these jerseys on TV and you have to think for a second before realizing that it’s the Minnesota Timberwolves you’re watching. A jersey that makes you question a team’s identity is a failure, no matter how visually appealing light blue jerseys can be.
27. San Antonio Spurs
Why do the Spurs keep trying this? Every year they come out with some wretched black/white camouflage combo that just looks wrong. I’m not sure where these rank on the all time bad Spurs jerseys list, but it’s certainly in the conversation.
But hey, at least weren’t as bad as these atrocities from 2016.
26. Oklahoma City Thunder
Listen, the inspiration for the Thunder’s city jersey is awesome and admirable. Long story short, they were made with certain features that honor and represent the victims from the Oklahoma City bombings in April 1995.
That said, I’m not judging based on how thoughtful and kind the designers were. I just think the design looks bad. The gold looks more dark/mustard yellow to me, and it just feels weird given it’s such a diversion from the Thunder’s typical orange and blue.
Great idea, but I don’t love how it actually turned out in print.
25. Atlanta Hawks
Can someone tell me what color the lining on that jersey is? In the Nike ads and articles it looks light pink, but watching live it always comes across as beige or tinted yellow and it’s just really disgusting to look at (as if you needed more reasons not to watch the Hawks).
I get that the Peach Tree is significant to the city of Atlanta, but seeing an NBA team have that word plastered all over its jersey just comes off as ridiculous and silly to me.
24. Charlotte Hornets
As ESPN writer Zach Lowe often says, a gray jersey is boring. Sure, it looks fine and I’m not going to occasionally need to look away and give my eyes a break, but this just screams lack of creativity.
For as many great uniforms as the Hornets have had, these were a pretty big let down.
23. Philadelphia 76ers
This one hurts.
Cream jerseys are just terrible in my opinion. The Sixers have arguably the best color scheme in the NBA and have pulled off a number of great alternate jerseys where they mix retro lettering design with their royal blue and bright red, but instead try to use a color that isn’t in their original set.
Like honestly, if these were just plain white they’d be boring, but at least pleasant to the eye. Instead I have to watch Sixers’ games where they wear these ugly beige uniforms that don’t come off right and make it look like they just haven’t washed their uniforms in a couple of weeks.
Nike said that the jersey’s color is inspired by the color of parchment-paper used for the Declaration of Indepence. My counter to why that was stupid: A picture of the Declaration of Independence.
22. Milwaukee Bucks
Cream jerseys suck, even they’re in Milwaukee where the inspiration actually makes sense.
21. Orlando Magic
Okay, so these jerseys look fine. The black and orange complement each other well. It’s why I didn’t bring them up until now.
But … where the heck did this come from. When did a franchise that has only ever worn blue, black or white suddenly decide that they’re allowed to adopt orange into their color scheme. I’m honestly surprised the Phoenix Suns didn’t file a lawsuit over this.
The first time I saw these on TV, I had to double check the scoreboard at the bottom of the screen to make sure that it was Orlando who was playing. I flipped back and forth between channels to see if there was something wrong with the screen. I rubbed my eyes constantly and considered scheduling a check-up with my doctor. I saw Markelle Fultz brick an open three and decided to slam my heat against a metal pipe for old time’s sake (not related but it did happen).
Apparently the reasoning for the Magic suddenly having orange jerseys is … the population of citrus in Florida? What? I feel as confused as Michael Scott after Dwight said that Jim made him hit himself in the head with his phone.
20. Washington Wizards
Boring? Dull? Monotonous? I’m not sure what the right word is, but I think it’s one of those three that describes these jerseys.
Yes they look good, and the Stars and Stripes down the side are a nice touch, but they hardly differentiate from their traditional home uniforms, thus defeating the purpose of the alternate jersey altogether. Try harder and you can easily move up in the rankings.
19. Dallas Mavericks
These were made fun of relentlessly when they were first revealed, but I’ve gotta say …. they’ve grown on me. The green and different shades of blue come off a lot better on live TV than they do in photo shoots.
Then again, maybe I’ve just grown to enjoy these uniforms because Luka Doncic makes everything look better. As the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Timberwolves have shown us, neon green uniforms are a bad idea.
And ultimately, I wouldn’t want to buy this jersey personally. The clash in colors is just a bit too much. Certainly a better uniform than I originally thought, but still falls short in many categories.
18. Houston Rockets
File this one under the Wizards and Hornets’ jersey corollary. It’s fine visually but screams “lack of creativity.” All they did was change Houston to H-Town (I’ll give you 10 bucks if you can find me someone who actually calls it that), and put some gray blocks down the side that supposedly represent space and the city’s connection to NASA. Sure, keep telling yourself that.
For a franchise that has released a lot of great jerseys in the past, this was a big let down.
17. Boston Celtics
Let’s be honest: no one will ever like a Celtics’ alternate jersey because they have the best and most recognizable jerseys in the game.
These don’t look terrible, but no hard core NBA fan wants to see the iconic white lettering of a Celtics jersey replaced with a corny gold color. It just doesn’t feel right.
16. New Orleans Pelicans
I understand the desire for a Mardi Gras-inspired jersey. It’s incredibly important to the culture of New Orleans and a major reason why the city has a national reputation. So good on you Nike for trying to tap into something like that.
Unfortunately, the result feels very “blah” to me. Purple is a fantastic color, but not when it’s forced to mesh with other bright, bold colors like green and yellow. I don’t change channels when I see these threads being dawned on screen, but I also don’t feel better about the game I’m watching.
15. Sacramento Kings
The ’80s Kings wore light blue jerseys with red outline, so this isn’t some out of nowhere, “We’re adding a new color to our scheme because we can,” a la the Orlando Magic. It’s an adapted throwback, and just looking at it right now, I really like it.
It doesn’t come off as well on TV, as bright red jerseys are always a big risk in the game of basketball. I like putting them at 15th in the rankings. They’re not great, but good enough that it can be considered a win for the design department.
14. Brooklyn Nets
Love the design down the sideline. Wacky colors on jerseys work if it’s not over the top, and making it the lining rather than the core of the design is a good choice. If it was just that and said “Brooklyn” or “Nets” than it would easily be top ten.
Unfortunately, we have to talk about BED-STUY. It’s along the lines of the Wolves’ jersey where I had to do some half-hearted internet research to figure out what the heck that stood for.
Apparently it stands for Beford-Stuyvesant—the neighborhood in Brooklyn that the rapper, The Notorious B.I.G., is from, who was the inspiration for the jersey design. Interesting idea, but it doesn’t work. Nobody outside of Brooklyn or NYC knows that neighborhood, and it just looks silly to have something like that on an official NBA jersey.
13. Cleveland Cavaliers
Admittedly, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with these. They almost ended up here by default because a) they aren’t an eyesore, b) they don’t have any ridiculous or silly wording plastered across the front, and c) they displayed a sense of creativity and effort on the part of the designers.
It’s similar to the Kings in that it’s an adapted throwback, from the wine-colored yellow to the abbreviated “CLE” across the front harkens back to the ’70s. It would be better if it was just a throwback (which is the case most of the times), but I still like it.
12. Chicago Bulls
Hated it at first, but just like the Mavs’ city jersey, it’s grown on me. Light blue is a fantastic color for jerseys, and it’s not completely out of left field, as they experimented with color last year, and Chicago’s city flag is famous for it’s light blue stripes and red stars.
That said, it does feel like a bit much. The Bulls already have some of the best traditional jerseys of all time. When you stray far from that original design, it’s hard to create something that resonates in the same way.
11. New York Knicks
Yes, this jersey is very boring. It’s not that much different from past dark blue Knicks’ alternates.
That said—this is a beautiful jersey. The blue and orange go perfect with each other to create a masterpiece that actually makes Knicks games somewhat watchable. Somewhat.
I couldn’t put it ahead of the more adventurous and outlandish designs that didn’t fall flat on their face, but this about as good as a plain alternate can get.
10. Indiana Pacers
This a great example of taking a risk but not making the jersey silly or weird. The blue stripe down the side draws attention, but it’s such a beautiful tone that I can’t help but admire it.
I prefer home teams to wear their traditional whites at home, and this design combines the comfort of tradition with the flare of a bold alternate jersey.
The stripe is a little awkward to look at sometimes, especially since it only runs down the front of the outfit and not the back, but I would still give it two thumbs up.
9. Los Angeles Clippers
Simplicity is underrated. I wasn’t a huge fan the first few times I saw the new Clippers’ jersey. The cursive didn’t jive with my tastes, and the complete absence of red and blue made it feel un-Clippers like.
But just looking at that picture above, man oh man do those babies look good. Whatever the “g” is doing with it’s curl is gorgeous and makes the whole design stand out. Honestly I don’t know why I had such a hard time appreciating the cursive at first.
Can’t put them in the elite as they lag behind some other designs in terms of risk-taking and creativity, but overall these jerseys are a win.
8. Utah Jazz
The sunrise uniform is, as usual, awesome. Only problem is that the Jazz have kept this as their city edition uniform for three consecutive years now.
That’s totally fine—it makes it feel more like a “traditional alternate” rather than a one-year experiment like most of the others. I’m happy with that, however, I can’t put it amongst the very best when it wasn’t as creative or inspired as the brand new editions other franchises dawned.
7. Phoenix Suns
Again, a simple design that doesn’t mess anything up, but it also adds in that stunning purple and orange sunset streak across the bottom of the shorts. A minor adjustment that makes the whole uniform pop.
The jersey is pleasing to look at with the traditional Suns’ colors given a black background. I really hope they don’t waste these like they did with T.J. Warren’s trade value.
6. Toronto Raptors
These are tough. Sorry for the Philly/high schooler in me coming out right there, but I couldn’t think of a better way to explain it. The black and gold are a match made in heaven, and the intricate lettering only makes the design more desirable.
I wasn’t a huge fan when the Raptors started embracing Drake and his OVO designs, but they’ve proved me wrong. Embracing that type of culture leads to great triumphs like this.
5. Portland Trail Blazers
By far the best of the adapted throwbacks, and it’s not even close. I love that the Blazers have fully embraced their 50th anniversary season by bringing back jerseys like this and the white-painted court. It’s honestly been the most enjoyable of an otherwise morbid season for the franchise.
If the Blazers had just gone to their throwbacks that would’ve been good enough, but they didn’t stop there, replacing the classic lowercase “portland” with their rip city moniker. Trying to mix things like these often doesn’t work, but with this jersey it just feels natural somehow. Awesome jersey.
4. Los Angeles Lakers
I feel like this is the one most people will disagree with me about. Allow me to explain.
The jersey looks much better in-action then in an advertisement, as it brings a sense of familiarity with the traditional Lakers’ gold, but also a sense of exclusivity and occasion with the purple outlining swapped for a swirling design and yellow stars.
Every time I turn on the Lakers game and see them wearing these I get excited for the chance to watch one of the NBA’s best teams in their limited edition jerseys. It reminds me of how I felt when I saw Kobe’s Lakers wearing their white uniforms, and that means something to me.
3. Golden State Warriors
I’ve always loved the Warriors black alternate jerseys. They somehow make it feel fun and wacky with the wavy pattern and “The Town” plastered across the front, yet low key and professional with the black and blue.
My personal favorite was the 2016 Adidas arm-sleeve edition (a.k.a. the jerseys the wore when Steph hit that famous game-winner in OKC).
I’d have this current rendition just a notch below that edition, but the design is still vastly better than a majority of the other designs Nike has produced.
2. Denver Nuggets
Good on the Nuggets for knowing what the people want. NBA fans were overjoyed last year when they rolled out the white-rainbow uniforms, so they didn’t overcomplicate things in 2020, and just flipped the background color of what is the best jersey gimmick in the league.
The colors stacked together produce a vibrant beauty much like … well, a rainbow. A perfect mix of ingenuity and tradition. Well done.
1. Miami Heat
C’mon, was there any doubt which jersey would get number one after the Grizzlies’ throwbacks were disqualified?
The light blue is awesome. The hot pink lining is a perfect contrast. The lettering perfectly mirrors a fluorescent sign as the designers intended. And it all fits perfectly into the “Miami Vice” theme.
They’re icy. They’re clean. They’re the best jerseys in the NBA this year.
Hey everybody, hope you all enjoyed this article. Did you have any disagreements with choices? Feel free to let me know what you would change down below and I promise I’ll respond to your comment. Thanks!