The NBA’s ‘Earned Edition’ Jerseys Separate the Winners From the Losers With a Special Touch for the Lakers

Ever since Nike secured the NBA’s jersey rights, it seems like every team has a half dozen jerseys to pick from. However, between vintage throwbacks and social justice-inspired designs, the league wanted to honor the Orlando bubble. To do so, they partnered with Nike to produce 16 “Earned Edition” jerseys. The results, however, are a mixed bag. 

The NBA’s ‘Earned Edition’ jerseys

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According to NBA’s official release, the jerseys pay tribute to the unprecedented odds that faced last year’s playoff teams with a three-month layoff and several months inside the Orlando Bubble:

The Earned Edition uniforms celebrate the 16 franchises, with team names or logos prominently emblazoned on the front of the uniforms and featuring current team design elements, brought to life through enhanced franchise colors. The designs across each uniform amplify the iconic elements that are ingrained in the fabric of each organization.

The NBA’s official statement on the Earned Edition jerseys

The 2020 season was unlike any the NBA had ever seen. With the uncertainty of a lockout and no initial way to negotiate out of the void, the league had to make things work. The Earned Edition jerseys reward the teams that went above and beyond the societal adversity to make it to the Big Dance. 

From the league’s marquee teams to Cinderella stories within the bubble, every jersey has a story to tell. The results, however, are a mixed bag. Fifteen teams have a silver Nike swoosh, NBA logo, and patch on their shorts; one has gold. The jerseys already set the NBA world abuzz with reactions — some good, some bad.

How do NBA fans like the jerseys?

Of course, the jerseys are a mixed bag of praise and criticism. The recent trend of minimalism in game attire means that some teams embraced the concept more than others. For teams like the Nets, who kept the basic color scheme while adding homages to their court and naturally minimalist color scheme. For others, it came across as a practice jersey.

The Bucks included a sleek antler design on the side stripe, while the Mavericks bridged the branding from the Dirk Nowitzki days to the modern, minimalist template. As CBS noted, however, other teams, like the Philadelphia 76ers, embraced minimalism without making an appealing look. The result is a jersey that looks like something sold outside an arena from a shady source. 

The Blazers made some fans scratch their head. The jerseys were sleek, but the grayscale colors made it seem less like a Blazers jersey and more like a Nets one. Furthermore, other teams, like the Indiana Pacers, put out jerseys that were marginally different than their normal ones. At the same time, the Heat inexplicably made gold jerseys that look nothing like the team’s previous branding. 

One team, the Los Angeles Lakers, had a special jersey of a different kind, however. 

The Lakers bring home the gold of ‘Earned Edition’ jerseys

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The Lakers’ Earned Edition jerseys are similar to the black-themed ones they’ve worn in the past. However, as Insider notes, given the tumultuous 2019-20 season they had with not only the pandemic but the death of Kobe Bryant amidst a significant roster overhaul made their championship special. The NBA commemorated this by giving the team a special gold patch where the others had silver. 

The NBA is slowly moving toward more traditional seasons, but the 2019-20 season will always stand out for its unique set of circumstances. While only 16 teams made the playoffs and got the honor, all 30 had to sacrifice something to get there. For those that made the playoffs, however, the NBA wanted to commemorate all their hard work. Hopefully, they will never have to do something like this again.