Those watching 2019 Team USA men’s basketball may notice the unusual jersey designs. In some ways, the uniforms seem a bit simplistic. While the 2012 team wore a jersey that was a direct homage to Team USA, the 2019 team’s uniform has many easter eggs for eagle-eyed viewers to find.
According to Nike, all of the countries competing have different design features meant to pertain to their country and heritage. China uniforms have characters printed on the neck. But on the United States jerseys, there is a message, “United we stand,” on the waistband of the shorts.
The uniforms are 80% blue and 20% white or 20% blue and 80% white, depending on if the game is home or away. According to designer Josh Iverson, this is a lesson from the Pareto Principle that states “80 percent of an effect can be traced to 20 percent of the causes,” a scheme shared by the red Chinese jerseys.
The 1992 Dream Team
The patch on the left of the jersey is a callback to the 1992 Dream Team, which featured Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and several other all-time great players. Its red, white, and blue logo are similar to the print that was on those jerseys.
This is not the first time the Team USA jersey has harkened back to the Dream Team. In the 2012 Olympics, LeBron James and the rest of Team USA wore jerseys that were near-direct copies of the 1992 Dream Team duds. Many believe the 1992 team was the best assembly of talent ever. As fans have seen this year, assembling a team of NBA players is not as easy as it seems.
The current team
Following the embarrassing loss at the 2004 Olympics, famed Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has led Team USA, which usually featured many of the league’s biggest players. With Gregg Popovich taking over as coach, however, even some mid-tier names who played for the team dropped out.
After several players like James Harden, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, and even De’Aaron Fox dropped off the team, the team is filled with All-Star players of a different sort. While Kemba Walker, Kyle Lowry, and Khris Middleton may be stars in their own right, Team USA is used to having superstars. Still, with the United States continuing to lead the basketball world, they’ll put up a fight.
Non-All-Stars like Donovan Mitchell and Harrison Barnes will help the team, and other role players can fill out the roster. Team USA will need a wake-up call, however, as they’ve struggled to instill much hope in early games. (The team recently lost to Australia.)
While some see the struggles of Team USA as a negative, the worldwide talent should be a sign of hope for those who want the game to continue expanding across the globe. The league’s reigning MVP is foreign-born and the Toronto Raptors are the defending champions. Could the world champion come from elsewhere, too?