NBA City Edition jerseys run gamut from inspired imagery to font flops

NBA City Edition jerseys run gamut from inspired imagery to font flops

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The NBA City Edition uniforms for the 2020-21 season are all out, and you’ve got to give it up to the NBA for coming up with a way to introduce new alternate jerseys for every team, every year, and making it a point of interest rather than an extremely blatant cash grab. A lot of that has to do with the fact that they’re not just making minor tweaks, saying, “here’s an alternate jersey,” and then saying “money, please!” Each time, it’s something new, fresh, and unique, and this year is no different.

And, as always, some teams did much, much, much better than others with their City Edition looks. Here is the definitive ranking, which you cannot argue with because it is correct.

Sorry to all the other Jesse Spectors for ruining your Google results.

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Heat

Heat

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These are either going to look amazing in real life, or amazingly garish, which, either way, Miami, and these jerseys are going to be remembered forever for their loudness and unprecedented use of a pink-blue split gradient. There’s an argument to be made for these being the Heat’s full-time colors, but for now, this is outstanding.

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Grizzlies

Grizzlies

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Even if these jerseys weren’t inspired by Isaac Hayes, they’d be sharp. Knowing the principle of the design, it’s even better. Keeping the Grizzlies’ font for numbers, with the lines through the middle, is a good choice that keeps it tied to the team and not just a generic Memphis look. This is, in so many ways, what a City Edition jersey should be.

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Spurs

Spurs

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Fiesta stripes! Sometimes you don’t have to do too much to nail it.

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Pelicans

Pelicans

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There are no words. Literally, there are no words. They made the New Orleans city flag into a basketball jersey. It works phenomenally well, unlike, say, when Maryland football tried this concept and looked like second-rate henchmen for a Batman villain.

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Bulls

Bulls

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Not a lot of cities have entire typefaces that are associated with them, so good job taking advantage of that here. It’s really sharp. It doesn’t quite tie in enough to the Bulls’ own identity, although it’s hard to say how that could have been achieved better with this concept. They should’ve gone all-out with the font for the nameplates on the back, but that’s a small gripe. Here’s hoping for a future Chicago Theater-inspired look with “CHICAGO” running vertically down the front like the Bill Walton-era Blazers.

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Lakers

Lakers

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The drop-shadow on a Lakers jersey is always a win, and so is throwing it back here to the Elgin Baylor era, before the Lakers went to purple — sorry, Forum Blue — and gold.

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Rockets

Rockets

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“We’re the Houston Oilers! Houston Oilers! Houston Oilers, number one!” Luv ya, Blue.

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Jazz

Jazz

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Black is often a boring choice for a jersey, but in this case, adapting the Jazz’s sunset look to more of a nightfall look represents a massive improvement. These are really cool, if a little bit Arizona State, and leaves the door open for the rival Nuggets to completely embarrass themselves as an added bonus.

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Pacers

Pacers

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It’s okay not to have a new idea! These are a sharp update of the turn of the century Pacers look, which isn’t as good as some of their other past uniforms, but was what they wore to the NBA Finals 20 years ago. All good.

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76ers

76ers

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They really slipped a “TTP” into the Boathouse Row design for “Trust The Process.” That would be more impactful if The Process hadn’t resulted in getting the Sixers right back to where they were before The Process, a mid-level East playoff team that’s not a real title threat. At least “pretty good, but entirely overthought” is fitting for the Sixers as a team.

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Celtics

Celtics

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It’s a real challenge to make good Celtics alternates, because their regular uniforms are so iconic. This time, they tried to replicate championship banners. It’s a good thought, and thoughtful usage of a font that’s a longtime part of the Celtics’ heritage but fresh for usage on jerseys. But they needed to adapt better. Putting “BOSTON CELTICS” on the jerseys exudes a vibe that it’s a knockoff you’d find some guy selling out of a van on Causeway Street. That’s not what they’re going for, Boston as it may be. Simply going with “CELTICS” would’ve worked so much better.

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Hornets

Hornets

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Mint and gold celebrate the first U.S. Branch Mint in Charlotte, and the Carolina Gold Rush, and the color combo works surprisingly well, while still feeling like a Hornets jersey. Please stop trying to make “BUZZ CITY” happen. It’s not going to happen.

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Hawks

Hawks

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It’s very cool that they worked with the King Estate Foundation to honor Martin Luther King, and even better that jersey sales will benefit Atlanta’s Communities of Color. The problem is, they’re boring.

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Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers

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The “Portland Oregon” sign is really cool. In person. Not as much on this jersey. Props for the effort, and there’s nothing terribly wrong with it, but we’ve come to expect so much better from this team, which has had some of the best City Editions in the league. Not this year.

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Wizards

Wizards

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Sure, these exist now. Russell Westbrook will wear them. Whee.

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Kings

Kings

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So, it’s the old powder blue, including the name below the number on the back, mixed with the checkerboard of the ‘90s, and the black of the team that got screwed against Kobe and the Lakers? It’s too much and it doesn’t add up.

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Bucks

Bucks

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Shawn Kemp-era Cavs ass-looking uniforms. They’re not awful, but also, we’re really going with blue to represent water? News flash for Milwaukee, most cities in human history have been built near water.

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Thunder

Thunder

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What if the Shawn Kemp-era Cavs, but NASCAR? It’s actually not bad, but it doesn’t quite come together. Something’s missing from the package, but adding to this wouldn’t work, either.

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Mavericks

Mavericks

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These would be incredible if the color scheme was flipped to full-on trophy gold with silver and white accents. They’re decent, but forgettable.

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Raptors

Raptors

Illustration for article titled NBA City Edition jerseys run gamut from inspired imagery to font flops
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Stop enabling Drake. Start using more dinosaur imagery.

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Magic

Magic

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It’s an upgrade from looking like they stole the Phoenix Suns’ alternates, but still not good. You can’t just take a throwback, turn it orange, say that you’re paying tribute to Florida’s citrus industry, and think that’s enough, because you wind up with uniforms that look like someone screwed up the dyes at the factory.

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Timberwolves

Timberwolves

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Did you ever have a paper assigned in school for weeks, but you totally forgot it was due until you talked to a friend the night before, and you just threw together whatever you could? And it wasn’t bad, all things considered, but it certainly wasn’t good? Anyway, these jerseys.

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Suns

Suns

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The blocky representation of Camelback Mountain is very ‘80s, the gradient is very ‘90s, the script on “The Valley” is very ‘00s, and the numbers are very Michigan State? The jersey design meeting started with someone saying “there’s no such thing as a bad idea,” and they really took that to heart by including every idea they had in a mishmash that looks like it came off the rack at a thrift store before even being worn.

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Clippers

Clippers

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These were dumb last year in white, and dumber this year in black, especially when they try to project an image of street toughness… for a team that when you talk about them blowing a 3-1 lead in the playoffs, you have to clarify which time.

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Nets

Nets

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Jean-Michel Basquiat was an amazing artist, and the Nets really could’ve done something here by going all-out with a colorful jersey instead of boring black with Basquiat-inspired trim. They also could’ve ditched the “BKLYN” and just had “NETS” in the Basquiat writing. And why is the number off-center on the front of the jerseys? This is a whiff.

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Cavaliers

Cavaliers

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As we all know, Cleveland rocks. These jerseys do not. They spent 10 minutes playing with a font, called it a day, and it shows.

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Nuggets

Nuggets

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It’s not that people love lines and mountains for the Nuggets, it’s that people love rainbows. So, they’ve gone with lines and mountains, in a color scheme that has become known for being the Utah Jazz’s alternate color scheme. Bring back Maxie the Miner, you cowards.

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Pistons

Pistons

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“MOTOR CITY” would be plenty. Nobody needs “DETROIT, MICHIGAN” on here. We all know what the Motor City is. That’s the whole point. What’s next? “DETROIT PISTONS BASKETBALL CLUB, FORMERLY FORT WAYNE PISTONS, PLAYED FOR SEVERAL YEARS IN AUBURN HILLS, MICHIGAN?”

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Knicks

Knicks

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There should not be six words in a circle on a basketball jersey! Also, “CITY NEVER SLEEPS” misses the key word “THAT,” so somehow it’s way too many words and at the same time not enough. And they’ve tried a gradient thing, but not gone Heat enough with it, and the circle could maybe be interpreted as a nod to subway tokens, but hardly anyone knows what subway tokens are anymore because they haven’t been used in decades. This is the biggest goof by the Knicks this offseason, and that’s a refreshing change, at least.

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Warriors

Warriors

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The chutzpah to move out of Oakland, then put “OAKLAND” on the City Edition jerseys. No.

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Sorry to all the other Jesse Spectors for ruining your Google results.