After a season crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic, the NBA hopes to create a lot of buzz for the 2020-2021 season. The league hopes to make up for the 10% revenue drop it suffered from living and playing in a bubble with no fans and iffy, at best, TV ratings. One way to get fans back is through merchandising, and the NBA will showcase several series of new uniforms for the upcoming season. How the league, and one team, came up with a “new look” for the next generation of City Editions unis is a public relations dream. Ben Simmons, a “non-shooting” guard for the Philadelphia 76ers, collected on a bet he made in his rookie year that allowed him to participate in the team’s tribute to the city’s Boathouse Row.
A bet Ben Simmons is glad he made
It seems that growing up in Australia, Simmons was a massive fan of the black uniforms the Sixers wore in the Allen Iverson era. The 24-yer-old former first-round pick was not happy the team did not wear the jerseys he grew up idolizing. The equipment manager passed the buck and told Simons to talk to Chris Heck, the team’s president. Heck did not like the black uniforms and had no intention of bringing them back.
And then the bet was made when Heck told Simmons that if he won Rookie of the Year for the 2017-2018 season, then Heck would allow the Aussie to take part in the design of a uniform. Ben Simmons made good on his part of the deal, so he took the Sixers back to black.
The net result returns to a black uniform with the boathouses’ silhouette on the East River Drive that runs along the Schuylkill River. The new unis also feature a Liberty Bell on the waistband with red, white, and blue accent colors. The initial TTP (Trust the Process) is on the jock tag.
How much did Simmons design?
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Beyond the PR hype, a look at the Nike design process could make a skeptic wonder how much input Simmons had on the new look.
Nike has an elaborate process they employ in designing any new uniform. Elesban Montoya, the senior graphic designer for Nike, is the man who oversees all aspects of NBA uniform design. For the city Editions, his goal is to connect the team to the city.
“With City Edition, we felt like this could be compelling to make a true connection of, still the organization, but the organization in reflection to their city and their community,” Elesban Montoya told USA TODAY. “What does it mean to be a Chicago Bulls fan? What does it mean to be a part of Chicago?
“We felt like we had to define the fabric of the city,” Montoya added. “Every detail on that uniform truly became a reflection of what their narrative was to be.”
Nike says it works with the league and the teams, which is where Ben Simmons’ voice might have been heard. The big remaining question? Where did Simmons acquire his sense of color, line, space, shape, and texture.
A season of City Editions awaits
Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and the aptly-named 76ers are not the only team sporting new City Edition jerseys for the upcoming season.
The Celtics modeled their version on the 17 championship banners hanging in the rafters of Boston’s TD Garden. The Detroit Pistons pay homage to the city’s nickname— “The Motor City.” The new Denver Nuggets City Edition sports a Rocky Mountain backdrop done in a crisp red to mirror its landscape. The Chicago Bulls put the phrase “No little plans” on the front of their new uniforms as a tribute to the city’s rebuild after the great fire of 1871. There is an art deco graphic of the city’s iconic skyline.
The NBA hopes these City Editions will encourage fans to jump back on the bandwagon and generate a million or two along the way.