Ranking the Top 10 NBA Uniforms From the 1980s
The 1980s was a completely different brand of basketball from what it is today. There was a much more physical style of play, and the three-point line was never the focal point on offense. Basketball in the ’80s had a much different look, starting with the uniforms. Many of those throwback jerseys we see today were prevalent in the league 40 years ago. We took a stroll down memory lane and picked out our top 10 NBA uniforms from the 1980s.
No. 10: Sacramento Kings
I love the powder blue. The player’s name on the back below the jersey number offers a unique touch. These Kings jerseys had so much potential to make it much higher on the list, but the scripted “Kings” on the front is just blah. A combination of the 1990s Kings font with the powder blue would’ve been a strong mix, but this style was still good enough to sneak into our list of top 10 NBA uniforms from the ’80s.
No. 9: Los Angeles Lakers
There’s nothing fancy about these Lakers uniforms that have remained the same for years. Sometimes, the simpler, the better. The Lakers and their rival Boston Celtics have had traditional uniforms for decades, much like the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons.
Of those four storied franchises, the Lakers’ traditional purple and gold mix is the only one that makes our list. The purple lettering jumps out from the yellow background and vice versa. When you’ve been as successful as the Lakers and Celtics over the years, why change anything?
No. 8: Milwaukee Bucks
Don’t get me wrong, I much prefer today’s version. I love the “Fear the Deer” theme and the big buck on the jersey with the uniform in between the antlers. The early ’80s Bucks look is pretty neat, too. There’s something about the different shades of green mixed with orange that make these uniforms stand out.
No. 7: Golden State Warriors
Danny Tanner brought the Golden State Warriors to life as the dad on “Full House” with his Warriors wardrobe. Stephen Curry made the Warriors a dynasty with his four championships. Through it all, the Warriors have been pretty consistent with their outfits, with the huge circle out front and California pride in the middle. They’d be right in the mix today if we did a list of current NBA jerseys.
No. 6: Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers unis aren’t overly fancy either, but the black, red, and white combination is a winner. The lower-case team name stands out. All three jerseys — red, white, and black — jump out at you. There was no logo on these jerseys, showing that another simple jersey, even without proper capitalization, can still work.
No. 5: Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz have had multiple color schemes throughout the years, but it’s the dominant purple look that screams Jazz for me. Unlike the Trail Blazers, the logo plays a prominent role on the front of the uniform. It’s an awesome logo as well, combining a basketball with a musical note that makes it all come together.
No. 4: Seattle SuperSonics
This one, too, is simple. Maybe I just miss this jersey because the team no longer exists, but I’ve always been a big fan of the green and gold of the Sonics. There’s no fancy font and no eye-catching logo, but there will always be a place in my heart for the Sonics and their sorely-missed uniforms.
No. 3: Washington Bullets
Like the SuperSonics, the Washington Bullets are no longer a thing. The Bullets became the Wizards in 1997, and gone was a pretty impressive logo that made this jersey stand out.
The red, white, and blue blend is special, but the two L’s in the team name are made to look like arms shooting a basketball. It’s a classic jersey that makes our top three.
No. 2: Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers brought their logo to the front of their jerseys in the 1980s and made quite a splash. The ‘V’ in their abbreviated “Cavs” name was made to look like a basketball hoop with a ball swishing through it. The blue and orange combination really stands out, making this jersey one of the top two in the 1980s.
No. 1: Denver Nuggets
This might be a love ’em-or-hate ’em jersey, but I happen to love them. The Denver Nuggets brought their uniforms to life during the 1981-82 season with a bright rainbow-colored skyline of the city of Denver. Underneath the rainbow, “Nuggets” was written in an eye-grabbing font.
Some may say the jersey is much too busy, and I respect that. I see it as the best uniform of the 1980s, and the Nuggets also made nine straight playoff appearances wearing them.