Back in 2017, NBA partnered with Nike for the official apparel for every team. Along with some redesigns of existing jerseys, the partnership introduced a new jersey line dubbed “City” jerseys, which were alternate jerseys meant to represent the city teams play in. These jerseys would last for one entire season before getting replaced with a new version.
Every year, we’d have some fresh jerseys for every team. For the most part, Nike has been doing an okay job with the designs, save for a few… forgettable jerseys (looking at you, Dallas and Detroit). With the 2021 City Jerseys slowly leaking for each team, now would be a good time to look at these leaked jerseys and see how they stack up against each other.
Knicks (Grade: 3/10)
Man, what in the world is going on here?
I understand that the subway is a very important part of New York, but surely there’s more to the Big Apple than that… right? The colors are nice, but why did they use the dark blue for text color against a black background? It just doesn’t look right.
Suns (Grade: 9/10)
Gradients in jerseys tend to be hit-or-miss without any form of in-between. Either it looks great and stylish or it looks like an elementary team’s design.
The leaked Suns jersey is a perfect example of a well-executed gradient concept on a jersey. It doesn’t feel forced or childish with the sunset over the skyline. It just looks so, so sleek and perfect. It’s easily the best jersey out of the releases.
Pistons (Grade: 2/10)
Not every team needs to fully alter their City Jerseys. If the design is either really good or really popular, teams could make minor alterations to their design (think Miami Vice, or the gradient Utah jerseys) and retain the original concept of the jersey.
The Pistons did NOT have to stay the same. For the third straight year, the Pistons managed to make another forgettable design that featured Motor City as the main motif again. It’s a boring design that fails to inspire any emotion, to be honest.
Warriors (Grade: 7.5/10)
After the Warriors left their long-time home in Oakland, it felt like it was only fitting that they paid tribute to the city in their jerseys. While the old-school retro-style jersey they’ve released is cool and harkens back to their roots, there’s so much more they could’ve done.
Pelicans (Grade: 3/10)
“Graphic design is my passion.”
The concept was really good behind this: a jersey based on the iconic New Orleans flag with the fleur-de-lis and all that. However, the way they executed that concept here COMPLETELY missed the mark. Instead of incorporating elements of the flag into the jersey, it feels like they just plastered the flag over a blank jersey. It feels forced and very underwhelming. Even the model looks bored wearing it.
Spurs (Grade: 9/10)
Most of us know the Spurs by their trademark monochromatic jerseys. The black-and-white is nearly synonymous with San Antonio now, but back in the 90s the Spurs had a more… eccentric color pallette dubbed “Fiesta”.
Their newest City Jerseys have found a way to bring back the fan-favorite Fiesta theme without making it look tacky, which is impressive. The teal, pink, and yellow would normally be too overwhelming, but they made it in such a way that it gives a much-needed pop of color that the Fiesta theme evokes.
Wizards (Grade: 5/10)
Gray is not a good color for jerseys.
Unless your default scheme revolves around black and white like the Spurs or Nets, there’s almost no reason for a team to have a gray-dominant jersey. It’s just hard for any color to pop without it looking a bit ridiculous. But apparently, some teams didn’t get the memo.
The Wizards City Jersey was already fine in it’s white variant, but this new gray version just doesn’t work in my opinion.
Nets (Grade: 8.5/10)
Have you ever seen a piece of art, or heard some music and thought, “I have no idea what’s going on here, but I kinda like it?”
That’s the vibes that the new Nets jersey give off. Heavily inspired by Brooklyn artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, this jersey design has a lot of elements that seem like they shouldn’t be in a jersey. But they did such a cool job in executing this concept that everything just seamlessly blends into each other.
Bulls (Grade: 7.5/10)
Chicago’s jersey is fine.
There’s nothing wrong with it, per se. Black with gold is almost always a winning combination in jersey design, and the drop shadow on the Chicago lettering looks pretty cool (especially knowing its reference). But at the same time, there’s nothing exceptional about it either. It’s a bit generic, like something you’d see on any other league.
Would I cop it, though? Absolutely.
Trail Blazers (Grade: 8.5/10)
Portland has always had solid color designs, in more than one way.
For most of their franchise history, they’ve stuck with simple designs without a lot of other elements, and it’s always worked for them. Their red/black/white scheme helps a lot too since those colors often fit each other very well. And while this new City jersey retains a lot of these elements while adding subtle nods to Oregon, I kind of wished they did a little more razzle-dazzle to spice things up.
Either way, it’s a really cool design.
Lakers (Grade: 6.5/10)
Having new jerseys every year seems like a good idea. After all, it keeps the look fresh and gives fans something to look forward to. However, what often happens is that teams ship out mediocre designs that look good but feel uninspired.
This Lakers jersey is the perfect example of this. It’s a really nice design, all things considered. The baby blue lettering and trim over the white base looks really nice. The nod to Elgin Baylor as part of their Lore Series is pretty cool. But other than that, it’s just meh. I bet you that you’d see something similar to this in tailor shops here with how generic it looks.