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All The Angry Emails Sent To UCLA By Fans Who Hated The Ugly New Zubaz-Style Uniforms

Illustration for article titled All The Angry Emails Sent To UCLA By Fans Who Hated The Ugly New Zubaz-Style Uniforms

Three weeks ago, Adidas rolled out special basketball uniforms for Cincinnati, Kansas, Baylor, UCLA, Louisville, and Notre Dame, to be worn in the teams’ conference tournaments. Each uniform featured Zubaz-like camo shorts, camo shoes, and three of the uniforms—UCLA, Louisville and Baylor—came with sleeves (“designed to disrupt,” according to Adidas). This met with near-universal disapproval, but the ugliness was part of the sell. Check out theses slogans from the Adidas website:

  • “Shock and awe. Forget about concealment: this camo is designed to stun your opponents. For personalities that refuse to blend in.”
  • “Sleeves. An innovative, short sleeve design, engineered to bust convention wide open. Because you don’t just invite controversy you steamroll over it.”
  • “Crazy fast. The head-to-toe system is just a weapon — it’s a shockwave accross the court. They’re going to see you coming. They’re going to hear you. Then they’re going to watch you explode.”

If Adidas wanted to invite controversy, that’s what it got out of UCLA fans. Deadspin put in public records requests with the five public schools included in the Feb. 28 announcement—as well as to Michigan, which wore a more subtle version of the uniforms in the Big Ten Tournament, and Indiana, which flat-out refused to wear the uniforms—to see how the new get-ups were discussed behind the scenes.

At UCLA, we found Adidas’s sports marketing director Chris McGuire sending an excited email to athletic director Dan Guerrero, saying he’d been told “this might be the best thing we’ve ever done” and that the uniforms had been flying off the shelves. We also found emails from unhappy UCLA fans, like the one who said “the thought of any player representing our school with these uniforms embarrasses and infuriates me.”

In fact, every fan who emailed Guerrero in the two days after the uniforms were revealed wanted the athletic director to ditch the new look, citing—of course—the legacy of John Wooden.

“One game with these laughably bad threads would be too many,” wrote one fan, “the entirety of post-season play with these uniforms would literally be an affront to Mr. Wooden’s legacy and the beautiful tradition of Bruin basketball. Please put an end to this. I implore you.”


Below are some of the emails sent by fans to UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero in the two days after the uniforms were announced. You can find everything in the reader at the bottom of the page.

From: Creig Nicks
To: Dan Guerrero
Date: February 28, 2013
Subject: Just say NO!

Mr. Guerrero,

As a second generation UCLA graduate (’81, my father, ’48), I have been a lifelong supporter of our University and have never felt the need to reach out and express my displeasure until today. Upon seeing the proposed basketball uniforms for the Pac-12 and NCAA tournament, I must heartily recommend that you call adidas and just say, “NO” to these horrendous looking uniforms. While adidas has tried several alternative jerseys and uniforms in both basketball (the Smurf blue from earlier this year was passable, but looked terrible on TV!) and football (loved the LA Nights, and I was even tolerant of the all-white worn last year against SC), these camouflage uniforms remind me of the old Zubaz zebra print leisure pants that are best left back in the 80’s with the other bad memories of that generation.

UCLA is about tradition and history and excellence, not a uniform catalog for a major sports brand much like our Pac 12 sister school from Oregon. Students come to UCLA to follow the rich academic and sports tradition, not go out and wear someone’s idea of the latest fashion. Please tell adidas that we will not participate in such a mockery of our proud True Blue and Gold colors.

Thank you for your time.


Creig Nicks
Assistant Superintendent Business Services
Moorpark Unified School District


(Guerrero forwarded the above email to an unknown person, writing, “FYI. Are we responding to these?” Guerrero did not respond to these emails.)

From: Matthew Martinelli
To: Dan Guerrero
Date February 28, 2013
Subject: Adidas New Uniforms

Mr Guerrero

How can you allow Adidas to take what is one of the most iconic style of Uniforms and make a mockery of them. The UCLA brand should not be messed with nor brutalized by wearing such horrible looking uniforms. Especially in such an important tournament like the NCAA tournament. I know Adidas pays a lot of money to sponsor the uniforms and equipment but somethings are just sacred. Please tell me you are not going to let the great UCLA brand be devalued anymore.

Matthew Martinelli

From: Raphael Rabalais
To: Dan Guerrero
Date: February 28, 2013
Subject: Adidas uniforms

Dear Mr. Guerrero:

As a longtime ucla athletics fan and proud Bruin alum, I am horrified by the uniforms that Adidas has proposed. Please abandon this offensive concept and preserve our impeccable traditional uniforms. One game with these laughably bad threads would be too many; the entirety of post-season play with these uniforms would literally be an affront to Mr. Wooden’s legacy and the beautiful tradition of Bruin basketball. Please put an end to this. I implore you.

Rafe Rabalais
Psychology, 1998

From: Brian Au
To: Dan Guerrero
Date: February 28, 2013
Subject: Basketball Uniforms for March

Dear Chancellor Block and Mr. Guerrero -

I am and have been a UCLA Basketball (and Football) season ticket holder for numerous years. I stumbled across an article on Yahoo! Sports (link below) showing an “alternate” UCLA Basketball uniform that Adidas has created for use during post-season play (according to the article). I personally think the uniform is very unattractive and would be a terrible alternative to the classic style and rich tradition displayed by UCLA Basketball uniforms both past and present. I sincerely hope our team is not considering use of these alternate uniforms and does not wear them during any games.

Thank you for taking the time to read this e-mail and for allowing me to voice my opinion.

Brian Au…

From: Brett McMillan
To: Chancellor Gene D. Block, Dan Guerrero
Date: March 1, 2013
Subject: UCLA Basketball - Uniform Change = Tradition Change

Chancellor Block & Mr. Guerrero,

As a UCLA alumnus and former athlete, I remember very well listening to Mr. Guerrero speak to my team in 2002. His message was simple, ‘Image & Substance’ were paramount in UCLA Athletics. That message resonates with me to this day, and I always reflect on it as I root for UCLA.

With that in mind, I was shocked and appalled to see Adidas’ new Men’s Basketball uniforms for March. I have no idea how this concept would get to this point, at this institution, with this team. I just imagine what Coach Wooden would think...

UCLA Basketball is one of the most iconic brands in all of sports. It is the brand that UCLA Athletics was built on - the ‘Image & Substance’ for which all programs were to follow. These new uniforms could not be further from the Image and Substance we so respect and need at UCLA.

I think about the New York Yankees taking off their pinstripes...Some things never should change, especially when they represent excellence. Please do not forget that UCLA Basketball represents excellence, on and off the court.

The thought of any player representing our school with these uniforms embarrasses and infuriates me, and I am not alone. The time is now to save face and honor the legacy that UCLA Basketball represents. I speak for thousands of Bruin faithful in asking you to announce that the UCLA Men’s Basketball team will not destroy its image and tradition by wearing these awful uniforms.

If no change is made, the message will be loud and clear what is really important to our leaders at UCLA.

Please make the right decision, for the sake of our Tradition.

Thank You,

Brett McMillan
UCLA Class of 2006

From: Eric Maraffi
To: Dan Guerrero
Cc: Chancellor Gene D. Block
Date: March 1, 2013
Subject: Tournament uniforms


Please do not dress the legendary UCLA basketball team in those ridiculous looking “zubaz” costumes. Our players, our program, and the alumni will be ridiculed across the country. We do not need gimmicks. This is not the UCLA way.

CPT Eric Maraffi
Class of 03

From: Douglas Johnson
To: Dan Guerrero
Date: March 1, 2013
Subject: ZUBAZ...

... embarrassing. We’re UCLA, not a circus. Encourage leadership support tradition and excellence, not bad style over substance. This is a no-brainer guys. - dcj

Douglas C. Johnson, Ph.D.
Warfighter Performance Dept.
Naval Health Research Center
Assistant Professor in Psychiatry
UCSD School of Medicine


From: Dave and Christine Payne
To: Dan Guerrero
Cc: Chancellor Gene D. Block
Date: March 1, 2013
Subject: Adidas New Jerseys for BKB

Dear Athletic Department
I was always proud that we Bruins had attractive, tasteful and historically meaningful uniforms.
Although clearly the young guys have liked Nike’s perpetual remake of the Ducks every game, it strikes me as a program striving to be an enigma. UCLA has no need for these shenanigans.
I love Adidas. Very good gear. No issues there.
But I hate being lumped in with all these other teams for these new uniforms - the UCLA version is just awful. Sorry.
I also suspect with the firearms issues the country is addressing right now, that camouflage is perhaps a poor choice of style - reminds me of Miami anyway...

Please keep the existing traditions - modern tweaks here and there are fine, but...

Our best wishes for continued success for UCLA Athletics,

Dave and Christine Payne
UCLA ‘85 & ‘84


From: Mark Cooper
To: Dan Guerrero
Date: March 1, 2013
Subject: UCLA Tourney Uniforms - Ugh!

Mr. Guerrero

I have recently come across several pictures highlighting the UCLA uniforms to be worn in the conference and NCAA tournament. These are hideous creations, by any measure. Must our school hold nothing in tradition in this special time of year.

Mark Cooper

1990 BA

Mark D. Cooper, CFA
Senior Portfolio Manager
Pacific Ridge Capital Partners, LLC


From: Donovan Daughtry
To: Dan Guerrero
Date: March 1, 2013
Subject Save the Uniforms!

Please respect he heritage and legacy of the UCLA basketball jersey and tradition and say no to the terrible adidas jerseys.


From: David Huffman
To: Dave Guerrero
Date: March 1, 2013
Subject: New Uniforms

I am an alumni and current season ticket holder. I take great pride in our basketball program and our school. I sincerely ask that you reconsider your stance on having our basketball team wear the atrocious Adidas uniforms that have been portrayed recently in the media. They are not only objectively ugly, but are a disgrace to our tradition and everything UCLA stand for. I ask that you consider this email and ask your peers and others in the Bruin community their opinion on the matter, as I can guarantee you will see that these horrible uniforms are not supported by the vast majority of UCLA fans and alumni.


David Huffman
Founding Attorney, Fresh Start Law Center

From: Terry & Marilyn Thomas
To: Dan Guerrero
Date: March 1, 2013
Subject: Dump the Hideous Adidas Basketball Uniforms

The new men’s basketball uniforms that the press says are proposed for the post season are hideous. Please don’t embarass the university by forcing these on our team.
Thank you.
Terry R. Thomas, D.Env.
UCLA Alumnus 1974 and 1982


From: Matt McCaskill
To: Dan Guerrero
Date: March 1, 2013
Subject: Adidas Uniforms

The propsed uniforms are hideous and an embarrassment to our sacred institution. Please have some respect for our tradition and leave perfection alone....If you want to “change something” Ben Howland, that would be Progressive!!....Sincerely, Matt McCaskill , concerned alum, class of 83.


From: Russell Ortiz
To: Dan Guerrero, Chancellor Gene Block
Date: March 1, 2013
Subject: New Uniforms

As a UCLA alumni I am all for alternative uniforms. However, the new proposal for the 2013 Tournament are disgracefully bad.

We need to never wear the new proposed uniforms.

Russ Ortiz

From: Jack Smith
To: Dan Guerrero, Chancellor Gene D. Block
Date: March 1, 2013
Subject: terrible uniforms—what would Wooden Say?

bad idea. where’s the tradition? don’t throw away all the alumni.

Jack Smith

Class of 1968

Not everyone hated the new uniforms, though. Adidas execs seemed to love them. Here’s the full email (mentioned above) from Adidas sports marketing director Chris McGuire to Guerrero and senior associate athletic director Glenn Toth:

From: Chris McGuire
To: Dan Guerrero, Glenn Toth
Date: March 5, 2013
Subject: Updates

Dan and Glenn:

Based off of our call yesterday, I wanted to provide you with the some updates, with more to come:

1) I received confirmation this morning that Michigan is wearing the jerseys in Navy only at some point during the conference tournament.

2) Your bookstore did bring in product for retail, 144 of each color way. Coincidentally enough, they called today looking for additional product

I will have a full sales report (stores and sell through) by the end of the week as the product, in some cases, is just leaving our warehouse. Additionally, Champs is committed to featuring UCLA in 10 doors in and around your market (the displays will go up next week). That is a big win for both of us.

Some other tidbits to share from other schools:

Kansas bookstore as already sold out of the uniforms and have placed a second buy

Our Dicks Sporting Goods rep said that they are at a 50% sell through 2 days after delivery of the product. The buyer said this might be the best thing we’ve ever done...

All in all, after the initial noise, we have a lot of positives right now.

I will report back as more information becomes available.

Let me know if you have any questions.



Chris McGuire
Director of Sports Marketing
adidas America

On March 8, the Twitter account of the Wooden Athletic Fund, which raises funds for the athletic department, sent out this tweet:


Despite all the marketing, it turns out UCLA used the new uniforms only once—the white version, worn by the Bruins in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament—and the school confirmed that the players will not be wearing them in the NCAA Tournament. Adidas and the school are still pushing the $90 jerseys and $60 shorts, even though it looks as if the blue version will never be worn on the court. As always, Adidas is more optimistic than everyone else. “As the Bruins make their way to the final this year,” the Adidas store promises, “they’ll be wearing a version of this men’s basketball jersey.”


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