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Evaluation of 30 kits representing 29 cities
There now follows a ranking of the top city [second alternate] kits in the 2018-9 National Basketball Association season. Criteria included recognisableness [can you correctly identify the team?], interestingness [does the kit stand out?], uniqueness [is it distinct from the team’s other kits?], and nonuglyness [can you look at it without feeling an upsurge of bile?].
- Houston Rockets: This kit is an update of last year’s version, which featured the team name in Chinese [the Rockets have been popular in China ever since the Yao Ming era]. The addition of gold, plus the rocket illustration on the shorts, makes this version vastly superior.
- Utah Jazz: Utah have opted to retain last year’s wildly popular city kits, referencing the deserts of Utah, with only minor modifications.
- Denver Nuggets: Denver introduced new kits this season, including this update of the team’s beloved skyline jersey from the 1980s. Oddly, the team also introduced a “Mile High City” kit this season, but it is the first alternate, not the city kit.
- Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their move to Atlanta with a gold trimmed kit. This is a much more fun version of Toronto’s black and gold.
- New Orleans Pelicans: This is the latest in New Orleans’s Mardi Gras kits. It does not really go with the Pelicans’ other kits, and it’s a bit of a downgrade from last year’s purple kit, but who cares? It’s Mardi Gras!
- Oklahoma City Thunder: This kit, inspired by Oklahoma’s Native American community, is the greatest kit the Thunder have ever worn. Admittedly, that is not a high bar to clear.
- Golden State Warriors: As with last year’s city kit, this design is inspired by the Chinese community in the Bay Area.
- Minnesota Timberwolves: This kit is a delightful tribute to local son Prince and his classic Purple Rain album. It just doesn’t look like the Timberwolves at all.
- Miami Heat: This kit is a black version of last season’s wildly popular design, which is based on Miami Vice but is just legally distinct enough that the team does not have to pay licensing fees to NBCUniversal. It just doesn’t look like the Heat at all.
- Orlando Magic: For the second consecutive year, Orlando’s city kit includes a night sky graphic that references nearby Cape Canaveral. This time, however, the graphic has been relegated to the side instead of the background.
- Sacramento Kings: The pale blue is based on the team’s original colours upon moving to Sacramento. However, last year’s version featured a logo; the SACTOWN script that replaces it this season is a definite downgrade.
- Brooklyn Nets: Since the Nets’ team colours are black and white, that theoretically leaves the city kit completely open to experimentation. Brooklyn’s city kits to date, however, have both been black. This one at least features multicolour trim based on the sweaters made famous by the Notorious BIG.
- Portland Trail Blazers: Portland have apparently opted for the RIP CITY text on their city kits, which is always a good decision. This one, however, is a distinct downgrade from last year’s grey plaid, a tribute to longtime team coach Dr Jack Ramsay.
- Cleveland Cavaliers: In recent years, Cleveland have begun introducing kits that combine different eras of the team’s long and varied uniform history. This one combines the late 1990s style with 1980s orange and blue, which is actually something of an improvement on both.
- Boston Celtics: Boston could easily have told the league and Nike to take a running jump and declined to introduce a city kit. They have done the next best thing by introducing a city kit that is very similar to their existing white kit, but with gold trim and BOSTON in place of CELTICS.
- Phoenix Suns: This kit is an improvement from last year, but it remains similar to the team’s primary purple kit.
- San Antonio Spurs: San Antonio have kept the camouflage style from last season, only changing the pattern. This kit pays tribute to San Antonio’s military heritage: several Army and Air Force bases are located near the city.
- New York Knicks: The Knicks’ city kit from last season was a tribute to the Fire Department of New York. This kit, while a perfectly valid update of an early team uniform, seems to be a downgrade; we were expecting each year’s kit to be based on different groups of first responders.
- Philadelphia 76ers: The grey here is in reference to Sylvester Stallone’s training gear in the Rocky films. In essence, the team is admitting that the many consequential figures in Philadelphia’s history are less recognisable than a fictional character.
- Milwaukee Bucks: This kit is meant to evoke the playing surface at the Bucks’ original home, the Milwaukee Exposition Convention Center and Arena. However, the most notable feature, the diamond at centre court forming an M on either side, is nowhere to be found.
- Dallas Mavericks: This kit is based on the neon lined buildings of downtown Dallas. This is another example of a jersey with a logo rather than the team’s name.
- Indiana Pacers: This kit is meant to evoke the team’s uniforms from the late 1990s. The grey, however, makes the player look like the pavement.
- Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers are using their city kits to pay tribute to past players, in this case Magic Johnson [note the M and the number 32 on the waistband]. However, the black trim and pinstripes simply do not go with purple.
- Toronto Raptors: This kit is simply a white version of last year’s black and gold design. The kit itself looks fine, but with a NORTH script instead of TORONTO or RAPTORS, there is nothing to connect it to the team.
- Chicago Bulls: This kit is based on the flag of the city of Chicago, which does not go with black at all.
- Charlotte Hornets: It appears that Charlotte’s annual city kits will simply be a slightly different black design each year with the text “Buzz City”. We would much prefer, for example, a teal design with pinstripes to pay tribute to the original Hornets.
- Los Angeles Clippers: This kit is meant to evoke the 1984 Summer Olympics. The problem, of course, is that the 1984 Summer Olympics did not use that shade of blue, nor that LA script.
- Memphis Grizzlies: Memphis introduced a new set of kits this season. The MEM logo, seen on the waistband of this kit, is meant to represent shipping containers; delivery firm Federal Express is based on the city. This kit, in fact, is oddly appropriate: the drab grey seems to have come straight off the wall of a nondescript warehouse.
- Detroit Pistons: This kit is meant to represent racing stripes on a car, but if that’s what they want, they should put the stripes on the sides. As it is, this kit looks like the player has been run over.
- Washington Wizards: This kit is simply a black version of last year’s kit, which also bore the name “The District of Columbia” but in white. It is difficult to see this as anything other than a downgrade: DC United are the only team in the area that should be wearing black.
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