In what’s become an annual NBA tradition, Nike revealed the newest slate of City Edition jerseys for the 2020-21 season. From references to local community heroes to callbacks of a bygone era, each team’s jersey tells a unique story. Some of these are hits while others miss the mark completely. Let’s look at the best-of-the-best and the worst the NBA has to offer.
What are the NBA’s City Edition Jerseys?
The City jerseys are meant to appease the local fans who want to honor their teams and the locale that they call home, details SB Nation. Every year, the jerseys are subject to scorn and praise, depending on what is revealed. This year was no exception. While there is, yet again, another mixed bag, there are some tremendous new jerseys in the mix.
The Hawks paid tribute to Martin Luther King Jr in some sleek, black, and gold jerseys, while some fans thought that the Thunder’s jerseys looked like NASCAR. Despite these hits and misses, however, these are the jerseys that both made their fans most proud and made them question their fandom as a whole.
BEST: Charlotte Hornets
One of the better examples of the city jerseys, the Hornets always had a unique approach to color in the NBA. Gone are the typical reds, whites, blues, and blacks; in are light blue jerseys still unique in NBA circles. This year’s city edition jerseys let the colors pop. They pay tribute to the Buzz City nickname that locals have grown to love.
WORST: Golden State Warriors
At face value, these jerseys are perfectly adequate. They harken back to the Warriors’ jerseys from the 2000s, including the legendary We Believe Warriors. However, what makes these jerseys the worst is the audacity of putting Oakland across the chest after leaving the city that they called home for decades. While the Warriors just moved across the bay, accusations that they never embraced Oakland are only made worse by finally including the city name on jerseys after the team already left.
BEST: Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies might have the best of the bunch. Their jerseys pay tribute to the late Isaac Hayes, details The Undefeated. They harken back to the stylistic ’70s that Hayes helped lay the soundtrack for. Their throwback font and dark blue, gold, and light blue color scheme make them a unique relic of a bygone era while feeling new, too.
WORST: Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers historically own their black-and-red aesthetic with pride, according to NBA.com. So when they switched to a brown, red, blue, and orange colorway, it doesn’t quite fit. That’s not to say that the jerseys had an ill-intent. They pay tribute to the tribal nations that once roamed Oregon before colonization. However, with the colors on the side and no Blazers-adjacent branding anywhere, they don’t work as Blazers jerseys.
BEST: Brooklyn Nets
While sloppy at first glance, details Sports Logos, what makes Brooklyn’s city jerseys great is the homemade look and its embrace of the region’s roots. Last year, the Nets paid tribute to the late Notorious BIG. This year, they honored the late Jean-Michel Basquiat, a famed graffiti artist from the ’70s who died in 1988. The black jerseys feature paint-splotches and a homemade-looking font with red, blue, and yellow highlights.
WORST: Boston Celtics
The Celtics jerseys are supposed to look like the Championship banner from the 2008 team that took home the NBA Championship, reports Celtics Wire. Instead, they look like a mess if one does not know what they’re going for. With “Boston Celtics” on the front, the jerseys keep the green and white aesthetic that the team is known for. But the simplistic, wordy design means that it just looks like a botched attempt at something new.
ESPECIALLY BAD: Cleveland Cavaliers
All these jerseys are good or bad in their own way. But the Cavaliers snuck in late to claim the worst-of-the-worst title in this discussion. Their strange jerseys look like something out of a cartoon series — a throwback to the ’90s that doesn’t look like anything the Cavaliers have done. The black, red, and yellow design technically fits their color scheme. But the strange graffiti design does not harken back to much like Brooklyn’s does. While many of these jerseys have flaws, few are as mindboggling as Cleveland’s addition.