- Paul Lukas
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Before we get to this season's NBA uniform news, there's breaking news regarding next season's uniforms: They won't have advertising patches after all. That sound you just heard was a huge sigh of relief (and OK, maybe a little bit of a victory whoop) emanating from Uni Watch HQ.
With that excellent news serving as a happy backdrop, and with the season set to tip off Oct. 30, here's Uni Watch's annual team-by-team rundown of what you can expect to see on the court this season:
• The Bobcats have dropped the "Bob" from their jersey, among other changes. Dropping the pinstripes is a good move, but the overall design feels like a Mavs knockoff. It's not bad, but it feels uninspired and characterless (additional photos here). Meanwhile, the team also has a new court design.
• The Cavs have added a gold alternate uniform to the mix. It'll be worn for the season opener Oct. 30 and for selected additional home games throughout the season. Also, expect the Cavs to come up with another "CavFanatic" uniform to be worn next spring, although that design is still under wraps. Also-also: There's a new court design.
• The Clippers wore a blue alternate uniform for much of the 2000s, and now they've brought back a new version of it. Not an awful look (eliminating the white side panels is addition by subtraction), but this team's whole visual program feels so lost, so random. A major overhaul long overdue.
• The Heat have changed the chest mark on their black jersey from the team name to the city name.
• Fans have been waiting for the Knicks to ditch the black trim on their uniforms for years, and now they've finally done it. But why did they reduce the curvature on the chest lettering? And that contrasting waistband sure is loud, especially on the road uni. The small tweaks to the collar shape, trim and back logo are mostly positive, but that area from the lettering to the waist is going to take some getting used to.
• The Lakers have a new court design.
• Whatever you were expecting from the Nets, it probably wasn't a uniform as stripped-down as this. The hunch here is they'll use this design as a foundation and start adding elements to it in a couple of years. For now, though, it's an impressive model of restraint, with a nice hidden detail: The side piping matches the herringbone pattern of the new court. One yellow flag, though: Looks like the "Nets" lettering on the shorts logo is being rendered inconsistently.
• Interesting move by the Nuggets, who've reached back into their past to come up with an alternate uniform based on their old rainbow skyline design. The weird thing is the barber pole pattern on the shorts, which feels too Marquette-ish. This uni will be worn for 18 home games this season, beginning with the home opener Nov. 6 (here's a listing of the dates). Additional photos here.
• No new uniforms or logos for the Rockets, but they do have a new scoreboard that's seriously huge.
• The 76ers have added a "50 seasons in Philly" patch. Also: The Sixers were supposed to get a blue alternate uniform last season, but it never appeared on the court. They'll definitely be wearing it this year (they've even been using it for preseason promotional events), beginning with the home opener on Oct. 31.
• The prize for minimalism goes to the Spurs, who've unveiled an extremely no-frills alternate uni. Most common fan comment: "Looks like a practice jersey." Most cynical fan comment: "Hmmm, looks like they'll have lots of room for an advertising patch." Love it or hate it, they'll be wearing it for their home opener Nov. 1 and for a handful of other homes games throughout the season. Also: a new court design.
• No new uniforms for the Suns -- at least not yet -- but they've made some interesting adjustments to their visual program. First, they've tweaked their logo. Second, they have a new court design, which features a new center-court wordmark that's legible whether it's upside-down or right-side-up (that's called an ambigram, kids). Hmmm, an updated logo, a new wordmark -- can new uniforms be far behind? Not this season. But maybe next.
• The Thunder haven't officially unveiled their new alternate uniform yet, but multiple sources indicate it will look like these video game leaks. (Yes, those screen shots show the team's name misspelled as "Thudner," but the design is apparently legit.) It's a surprising move, since it doesn't bear any visual connection to the rest of the team's uni program. Also, many observers (or at least this observer) had expected OKC to go with a jersey with "OKC" on the front.
• The Trail Blazers are the only NBA team that still wears diagonal stripes, and now they've modernized that striping pattern for a new alternate uniform. Not bad -- the tapered stripe looks more like a trail, right? This design will make its on-court debut for Portland's season opener Oct. 31. Additional details here and here.
• The Warriors are expected to come out with an alternate uniform this season. No details yet on the design, though.
• The NBA likes to create themes for its annual Hardwood Classics throwback program, and league officials haven't yet announced what this season's theme will be. But it appears it's going to be "What were they thinking?" designs from the 1990s. Those mock-ups, from an adidas catalog that leaked earlier this year, are widely reported to be this season's throwbacks, although the league is staying mum for now. Enough time has gone by to give most of these designs an endearingly kitschy feel -- should be fun to see them on the court again.
• Another widely reported leak involves the Christmas Day uniforms and "winter" uniforms. This is a new design series that features outlined letters and numbers. In some cases, it works really well, like for the Nets and Thunder. On the other hand, look what they have in mind for the Knicks -- woof! Most sources agree these uniforms will be worn Christmas Day; others say they'll also be worn for weekend home games during the second half of the season. Further info and images here, here and here.
• This season's All-Star Game uniforms won't be officially unveiled until sometime this winter. But Uni Watch has it on good authority that they'll look like this. And the logo definitely will look like this.
And there you have it. But before we adjourn, here's a version of this season's NBA uniform guidelines diagram, which is posted in each team's locker room. The best line: "Left and right sneaker must match." If they had to spell that rule out, you just know someone is already planning to violate it.
Uni Watch Party Announcement
Do you live in the New York area? Are you free next Saturday afternoon? Would you like to hang out with a certain ESPN uniform columnist and a bunch of your fellow readers?
If you answered those three questions in the affirmative, you'll want to come down to the next Uni Watch Athletics Aesthetics Party, which will be taking place Saturday, Nov. 3, at 3 p.m. ET at Sheep Station in Brooklyn. Wear your favorite jersey, have a beer, mingle with your fellow Uni Watch readers. If you're running the New York City Marathon the next day, you can carbo-load on the pasta specials that the management has graciously agreed to provide. And if you're looking for post-party entertainment, the Nets will be playing the Raptors at 7:30 p.m., just eight short blocks away. Hope to see you there.
Paul Lukas is really, really hoping the NBA owners abandon their uni-advertising plan. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his daily Uni Watch website, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted or just ask him a question? Contact him here.