The most fascinating people for the past 30 years have been rappers and NBA players. Their unique mixture of wealth, talent, and senses of humor and fashion have created some of my favorite moments in human history. For your enjoyment, here is a picture of some of the big name players from the legendary 1996 draft class. Multiple all-stars, mvps, and all around solid players were taken in this draft including, Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash. Pause for a moment. Some all-time great jerseys are being worn in this picture, so conduct yourself with proper reverence. In Vancouver, when they wanted to start their basketball team they had the entire spectrum of colors at their disposal and their consensus choice was teal. Meditate on the courage that took in a league filled with reds and blues and greens. These brave men deserve medals for their contributions to American Fashion. The in-your-face font, the tribal borders around the sleeves, and the snarling basketball hoarding Grizzly are a trifecta of uniform perfection. This jersey is truly an all-timer and should either be reinstated immediately or retired to the rafters in the FedEx forum, the Grizzlies current home in Memphis.
Coming in second is the Raptor uniform, whose mascot is unfortunately derived from Jurrassic Park, which is a fine movie, but doesn’t deserve to be immortalized in Toronto. However, to dress the Raptor in a jersey, have it playing basketball, instead of doing Raptor things, AND THEN PUT SAID RAPTOR ON A JERSEY is a truly inspired choice. I only wish the Raptor was wearing the jersey that Marcus Camby is sporting, as it would have created an infinite number of basketball-playing Raptors that grow incrementally smaller.
Third prize goes to the Suns jersey, which feels as though one is looking at a sunrise across the vast expanses of the Phoenix desert. Although having the sun be a basketball because both of those objects are spheres may not be the most ground-breaking choice, I think we can all agree that it had to be done. It’s a jersey that I have scoured countless thrift stores hoping to encounter. It’s intriguing diagonal orientation has been abstracted and incorporated back into their current uniforms, however the current jerseys are far more sensible and conservative in comparison to it’s far more striking ancestor.
This movement towards serious and bland jerseys is a shame. We, as a country, have decided that really tall and athletic men, should try to put a leather sphere in a metal hoop with woven string hanging from it. They should train really hard and be paid millions of dollars to do this task if they are good at it. We then try to entice these tall men to join clubs for our cities and become very invested in whether or not these tall men can put the sphere in the hoop more times than the other tall men from the other city. We conduct this bizarre ritual in massive stadiums equipped with sound effects, mascots, and halftime shows. We then dress these men up in sleeveless shirts and shorts, but then we decide these uniforms should have sensible fonts, primary colors and grid pattern lines. That is balderdash.
The Maverick uniform should have an actual cowboy shooting basketballs out of his pistols into hoops. The Timberwolves should have more wolves on their jerseys than a ironically worn shirt made by the Mountain. Milwaukee should have Bucks stabbing basketballs with their antlers on their jerseys. Uniforms should cover every centimeter of the color wheel. NBA players should look like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air when they are on the court.
Some teams such as the Celtics and Lakers are not subject to this scrutiny as they are classics, but if you’re telling me teams like the Bobcats and Pelicans should be allowed to have serious uniforms I emphatically disagree. Jerseys should reflect the inherent silliness of Professional Basketball. After all, as every parent has said to their child after a particularly devastating loss at the hands of the rival Middle School, “It’s just a game.” So why not make the game a little more fun?