When the NBA teamed up with Nike for merchandising in June 2015, commissioner Adam Silver made it clear that he hoped the deal, worth something to the tune of $1 Billion, would both “grow the game globally,” as well as implement the latest in uniform technology for the league’s some 400 players.
Now, two years removed from the collaboration’s announcement, teams are finalizing and fleshing out both jersey redesigns as well as sponsorship partnerships that will adorn the upper left of game-worn jerseys. While some teams have been late to the party announcing an ad (or in OKC’s case, refusing one altogether), the league’s 30 squads have all diligently updated their uniforms in line with the Nike standards, of which you can find out more here.
On Friday, September 15, 2017, each of the 30 teams sent player representatives to Los Angeles donning one uniform in particular, the “Statement” Jersey. Following the unveiling of “Icon” and “Association” styles over the summer, the Statement Jersey adheres to the “Athlete’s Mindset” theme, as purported by Nike’s introductory image.
Without further ado, here are all of the new jerseys, ranked from worst to best. As is the case when the clock ticks closer to April, not all teams can be winners, and some of these threads asking for a lottery pick come June.
30) Brooklyn Nets
As GM Sean Marks does his best to drag the Nets from the steaming sewers that are New York’s basketball relevancy, Brooklyn’s design team needs to reevaluate what the term “Statement” means. When Jeremy Lin and the gang suit up in these they’ll be doing their best impression of a practice squad, regardless of what the box score says.
29) New Orleans Pelicans
The Pels are off to a bad start, lacking any decent pics of their alternates. Just imagine their usual unis, but red. Yep, that’s about it.
28) Houston Rockets
I guarantee no one will be sleeping on H-Town as the divine combination of Morey-ball and Mike D’Antoni’s Seven Seconds or Less offense reunites for a second season. However, the designers were most definitely dozing off at the seamstress’ office, choosing a flat black design that lacks any semblance of upwards momentum evocative of rockets. Pick your head up, Trevor Ariza, at least the rest of your jerseys aren’t this bad.
27) Miami Heat
How many times can we reference the Heat’s magical 30-11 ending to last season? Despite all forms of wizardry occurring, the Heat avoided abusing that power for merchandise-work, likely saving it for a run through a weak-as-usual Eastern Conference. These jersey’s aren’t explicitly terrible, but the lack of tangible updates from the alternates worn in the Wade era is bothersome.
26) Memphis Grizzlies
Beale Street Blue is all well and good, but when you want to show off your music heritage with a name like the Grizzlies, something has to go. A total color scheme change was unlikely, but these baby-blues will surely be washed away in the tumultuous seas of the Western Conference.
25) Los Angeles Lakers
The staple purple-based unis in LA LA Land were arguably the worst of the bunch. Coupled with a definite lack of Kobe, the last vestige of the Lakers winning ways lay in the spirit of these jerseys. Though I can’t knock a classic, a redesign would spur new lifeblood into the Downtown Los Angeles.
24) Toronto Raptors
Black is a hard look to ruin, and I can’t say the Raps have done so here. That said, the NBA’s trend of minimalistic, clean design language has put a damper on teams with names like the Raptors. A sense of speed should have definitely been incorporated into the design, especially considering the 90s purple dino threads are unlikely to return.
23) Indiana Pacers
What’s with the semi or complete circle of text of late? Sure, a basketball is round, but circular wording is as bland an excuse for a design choice as Easy-Mac is an excuse for homemade macaroni and cheese. The job gets done, but not necessarily well. Now that I think about it, maybe the circle is supposed to be an Indy crop circle? Still, not much better…
22) Orlando Magic
Pinstripes and Shaquille O’Neal are about the best thing to come out of Orlando’s sports history in my book. What’s even better is that the length of the vertical lines is indicative of the Magic’s height-based spacing issues that should continue to plague them for as long as Aaron Gordon has to play the 3.
21) Boston Celtics
33% of the NBA will be rocking black statement jerseys this 2017-18 season. Beyond wordmarks and sponsors, variety in these is few and far between. In the Celtics case, white and green has always been the de facto colorway, so a black uni seems more like a chore than a requisite.
20) Phoenix Suns
It doesn’t seem like the Suns do much better than the rest of the league, but at least they have a preferable black Statement Jersey!
19) Portland Trailblazers
The NBA is conveniently divided into thirds for now, which precludes any listing of all thirty teams is bound to become less interesting from numbers 20 to 11. Not much to say here, other than bisecting the Trailblazers’ alternate jersey with a thick diagonal stripe plays nicely with the off-kilter pinwheel motif from Portland’s history.
18) San Antonio Spurs
No one watches the Spurs for their fashion sense, at least not since the 1990s fiesta jerseys. A sleek silver backdrop should make for great posters (do people still buy those?) when Kawhi gets a revenge dunk on Zaza Pachulia.
17) Charlotte Hornets
Beyond the Lakers, Kings and old school Bucks, purple is an underused color scheme in the NBA. Charlotte is continues its commitment to the color purple, though the lack of a “Buzz City” branding on any of the unis unveiled thus far is a tad problematic.
16) Chicago Bulls
The Bulls kept with their time tested jersey design, the same one that saw a pair of three-peats, an MVP or two, Boozer nut-punch a ref, and Tom Thibodeau run some young guys into the ground.
15) Dallas Mavericks
The lack of obnoxious green or silver trash bag variant jerseys is still troublesome for those with 90s and 2000s Mavericks nostalgia, but as a sucker for skylines, I’ll approve of the Mavs reviving this design.
14) Detroit Pistons
Having a backup point guard that plays better with your team than the starting one is a bad look that plagues the Pistons of Detroit. A good look however, are these grey uniforms, demonstrative of the mechanics that fuel Motor City.
13) Philadelphia Sixers
Are the “76ers” really no more? Did management decide 70 was too many to count, and figured a single number would maintain fan engagement? Naming conventions aside, the red uniforms peppered with script is an elegant affair. Hopefully, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz and Joel Embiid will be on the court wearing these, and not suits on the sidelines.
12) Atlanta Hawks
Lattice patterns never get old, and the Hawks’ preference for the subtle design that also adorns their courts is quickly becoming synonymous with the organization that was too much for Dwight to handle.
11) Utah Jazz
Simplicity isn’t always best, but using the Jazz note as the focal point for these uniforms is something I can get behind. There’s still nothing jazzy about Utah, though.
10) Denver Nuggets
The Skyline has returned! The Mutumbo era rainbow back drop is gone, but the yellowish-gold hue these jerseys have is about as bright as the future of the Jokic-led Nuggets.
9) Cleveland Cavaliers
The letter C, featuring the silent curvature of the rapier’s handle, draped in a shimmering black background. The “C” can stand for “Cavaliers” or classy; either fits just as well.
8) Los Angeles Clippers
Moving away from the dependence on nautical motifs is a solid change for the Clips. Assuming some blackout nights in the future, these uniforms will make for a nice christening of the new arena in Inglewood.
7) Milwaukee Bucks
The Harley-Davidson Patch, while locally relevant, is a bit jarring on each of the Bucks jersey iterations. The return of the alternate that pioneered unique court designs is much appreciated, even if “Fear the Deer!” isn’t the most intimidating of chants.
6) Washington Wizards
No Wizards jersey can surpass the Gilbert Arenas gold in terms of making a statement, but these manage to combine a national color scheme into something that hints at patriotism without outweighing the basketball focus. Incoming Wizards top 3 in the East.
5) Sacramento Kings
While the underlying squiggly design would be silly on its own, the total package in these Sac-Town jerseys is both modest and elegant. A dash of purple would have taken these to the next level, though.
4) Golden State Warriors
The roots of the tree run deep, as deep as GSW’s drafting prowess since scoring Steph, Klay and Dray. The all-black design is a bit overdone, but the logo and nickname make these jerseys standout in the league-wide jersey blackout. If these aren’t called the “Golden Statement” jerseys, that’d be a shame.
3) New York Knicks
The Knicks (sorta) won something! These jerseys, with the blue and orange boarder striping, harken back to the classic 70s style which was arguably the last time the Knicks were actually good. No, not “we have hoodie Me7o” good, but like, “we won ringzzzz, Ernie,” good.
2) Oklahoma City Thunder
With Paul George sent as the representative, presumably to entice him into a longer tenure in OKC, the slightly forward slanted wordmark is indicative, as denoted by the Thunder website, of forward motion as an organization. Only time will tell if PG13 stays draining shots in the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
1) Minnesota Timberwolves
With a defensive schematic that would make Stan Van Gundy proud, the T-Wolves have the potential to upset the West assuming their shots will fall. Until then, they’ve certainly won the jersey shootout, coming through with neon green unis that is a marriage of Nike’s fluorescent workout gear and Minnesota’s great pine trees.
Which are your favorite Statement Jerseys? Let me know @BJTripleOT or at BJohnson@tripleot.com.