NBA Lifestyle

NBA Cloth Talk: Analyzing the 2021-22 City Edition uniforms

Welcome to Cloth Talk! An ode to the phrase coined by DJ Khaled, NBA.com's Gilbert McGregor and Kyle Irving delve into all things style in the NBA. From uniform reveals to sneaker choices and everything in between, the two experts give their takes and provide clarity on concepts that are impossible to ignore.

In the first edition of the 2021-22 season, the two go back-and-forth on the league's 28 new City Edition uniforms in celebration of the 75th anniversary season.

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): New year, new uniforms. That's how the saying goes, right?

In celebration of its 75th anniversary season, the NBA and Nike have recently unveiled the City Edition uniforms for the 2021-22 NBA season. This year, all but two teams (Suns and Jazz) received new City Edition uniforms. In the spirit of NBA 75, the uniforms take on a mixtape mashup approach, combining the elements that weave together the history of a franchise.

Per Nike, this year's City Edition uniforms "use both time and place as inspirations, highlighting some of the unforgettable moments across each franchise, from expansions to player performances to club titles."

Kyle, my guy. First off, it's good to be back chatting uniforms again. Before we get into the team-specific designs, I gotta ask: what do you think of the mashup concept of the uniforms as a whole?

MORE: NBA unveils all 30 City Edition uniforms for 2021-22 season

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): It really is good to be back chatting uniforms again. It feels like it's been ages since the last time we got to talk about some new jersey concepts but it's that time of year.

The mashup concept is awesome. I'm a huge fan of it. Ever since Nike took over the NBA's jersey sponsorship, they've been killing it with these City Edition uniforms and recency bias aside, I really do feel like these, as a whole, are the best yet.

McGregor: I'm with you on that. As someone that appreciates the nostalgia and history of the old-school NBA aesthetic - from sneakers to uniforms to gear - I was pretty excited when I learned that they'd be taking this approach to the uniforms.

CLOTH TALK: Celtics, Knicks, Warriors to wear Classic Edition uniforms in 2021-22

Now, of course, there are some duds, which is to be expected, but a few teams knocked it out of the park, too. That said, what we've normally done in the past is a straight-up ranking of our favourites to see where they align, but since there are 28 new sets, I figured we start off with a slightly different approach.

In the spirit of these being City Edition uniforms, I think there are three sets you and I are especially qualified to talk about having grown up in these respective places. Before I share my many thoughts on the Hornets and Pelicans sets, I gotta get your thoughts on the Celtics' set.

Irving: This is really where we want to start, huh?

McGregor: Uh oh.

Irving: It's pretty simple. The Celtics have the worst City Edition uniforms out of any team in the league. But I will say that they are at a bit of a disadvantage because while so many teams in the league have gone through a rebranding - from logo changes to colour changes to uniform changes, all of that - the Celtics have had essentially the exact same uniforms from Day 1 of the franchise.

So when it comes to "remixing" their old uniforms with the new... there's not much mixing to do in the first place. But instead of just purely hating on them, I will point out that I really liked the use of the franchise's first logo on the belt buckle, the two different tributes to the great Red Auerbach (on the shorts and above the tag on the jersey) and the 17 different shamrocks to represent the franchise's league-lead-tying 17 championships.

Now that I've said my piece on my favourite team, I'll swing it over to you to voice your opinions on your two familiar teams.

McGregor: Whew… that "uh oh" was right. But I'm glad I asked.

From an "outsiders" perspective, I view it as more of a modified throwback, honestly. A few years back the C's mixed in some parquet designs into their City Edition uniform, which, was… clever, if nothing else. For me, the big win is if the Celtics wear those while the Knicks wear their classic uniforms. I think it'd look pretty cool.

Now, let me move on. I'll start with my birthplace of Charlotte, where I grew up going to the Coliseum to watch Vlade Divac, Glen Rice, Eddie Jones, Baron Davis, Jamal Mashburn and David Wesley. Conceptually, if you had told me the uniforms mixed together all of the elements from that (plus a well-deserved ode to the Bobcats) I'd be all in, but… these slightly miss the mark for me.

There's just a lot going on. I don't hate them, I just kind of wish the gradient "cell" (honeycomb) pattern was less prominent on the jersey and the shorts.

I do love the OG Hugo logo on the shorts, though. That's a big win. Honestly, I could see these in action on the Hornets' retro court and do a complete 180, but there are some elements of the uniforms that I appreciate if nothing else.

Irving: There is a lot going on there, so I see where you're coming from on that. The honeycomb with the pinstripes and the blended colours... it's a lot. There's no other way to put it. But personally, I love them.

That blue and teal colour scheme never fails and I can't say I'm surprised that we have the same favourite part of the uniform - the OG Hugo logo on the shorts. These were a win in my book.

I think I know which direction you were going to head in on the Pelicans' new uniforms. Did you still want to chime in there before we move on to some of our other favourites?

McGregor: I find it funny we're finding ways to see the best in the uniforms from each other's respective homes, even when you and I can't. A nice balance there.

I won't say much about the Pelicans' uniforms. They're objectively very nice and honestly could work as a full-time, set.

I just have one thing I want to address.

I know the history is a bit confusing, but I would have liked a little more of a nod to the New Orleans Hornets. The striping on the neckline and shorts help, but it feels like something else subtle could have been done to pay homage to those days.

As we've seen on other team's uniforms, there is real estate on the jocktag and around the neckline that could have been used to pay a little more homage to what Mashburn, BD, Jamaal Magloire, Chris Paul and David West did in New Orleans.

That is all.

Now, I won't belabour my point any further and get to the good stuff. The standouts. What are your top three?

Irving: I see what you're saying there, too. They're supposed to be remixed jerseys of new school and old school but the Pelicans ones didn't do much to tribute the old school.

But on to our favourites. To be clear upfront, my top three excludes the Suns "The Valley" uniforms, because they're repeats from last year and are undeniably one of the freshest jerseys in the NBA today.

For the sake of getting new uniforms in the loop, let's start with No. 3.

In previous Cloth Talks, we've mentioned how we're both a fan of simplicity when it's done right and for me, the Golden State Warriors City Edition uniforms are a prime example of that.

The all black is slick. I love the thunderbolt on the sides as a tribute to the "We Believe" Warriors days. The second I saw these, it made me excited to watch Stephen Curry donning this uniform amidst a typical Human Torch-type stretch as the Chase Center is erupting around him. These are one of my favourites, for sure.

McGregor: It's always fun doing these because it's like the envelope reveal in the draft lottery when I wait to see if you and I have any in common. So far, no repeats.

On the Warriors' set, I do want to acknowledge it's super cool they pay homage to the present by including a splash for Curry and Klay Thompson. Three titles earn you that honour.

We typically do this snake style, so I'll go with my No. 3 and No. 2 pick back-to-back here.

Coming in at third, I'm going with the Portland Trail Blazers. It seems like such a simple thing to get hung up on, but I LOVE how the jersey numbers take it back to the 90s. Gonna show my age here because I know it's meant to be a callback to the days of Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter and Buck Williams, but I associate them with Damon Stoudamire, Steve Smith, Scottie Pippen and Arvydas Sabonis. NBA 2K was the first-ever basketball game I owned and the Blazers had the white numbers with the red drop shadow like such. The side paying tribute to Dr. Jack Ramsay, the white circle around the logo calling back to their old court. It's all in the details.

And coming in at second, I'm going with the Atlanta Hawks. These legitimately remind me of something I would have clamoured for in the early 2000s. The yellow uniform makes me think of Josh Smith on NBA Live and the big hawk across the chest brings me back to an oft-forgotten era of Hawks basketball that featured Steve Smith and Dikembe Mutombo.

The font itself brings it back to an era of Hawks basketball that was well before my time.

Gonna be cool to see Trae Young, John Collins and company rocking these

Again, just a masterclass of incorporating elements.

Irving: I guess I'm playing spoiler here, but the Hawks uniforms were my No. 1 favourite out of the group. I always loved the jerseys with the big hawk going across the front and I'm glad they brought it back for this remix. Add to it that they used the same font from their first-ever uniforms as a tribute to the Pistol Pete Maravich era, but did so in the black, gold and red colourway... too clean.

With my favourite already revealed, let's work backwards and give you my No. 2.

These are sick and very well could have overtaken the Hawks as my favourite.

I love how they went back to the lighter blue and green from the first days of the Timberwolves franchise but incorporated the font and tree trim from the Kevin Garnett era.

I wish I had more excuses to wear jerseys these days because I'd order an Anthony Edwards one the second it dropped.

McGregor: That goes to show you how many standouts there really are here.

When I was deciding where I wanted to go with No. 3, I gave the Wolves a lot of consideration as well as the Kings and Knicks, to a lesser extent. The common theme around all these is that they bring me back to when I first started noticing uniform elements.

I'm not sure if I should feel good about that or feel old that the things we grew up looking at are now considered "throwback." Speaking of old school, before I say where I went with at No. 1 (and this actually ties things together in a few ways), do you get any Flint Tropics vibes from San Antonio's new Fiesta set? They knocked them out the park, of course, it's just something I noticed here.

Irving: Hahaha, I just actually laughed. No, I didn't notice that the first time, but now that you say it, it's all I'll think about any time they wear them. You and I are both known fans of the Fiesta colourway, but that's too funny.

Just wait until Lonnie Walker finds out about the alley-oop with his jump out of the gym hops.

McGregor: Hahahaha, the league will be in trouble.

Now, to explain how it all ties together. From one (fictional) ABA franchise to a former ABA franchise to another… the Nets earn my first-place vote. There are so many "easter eggs" that pay homage to the New York Nets, their time on Long Island, and, more recently to my memory, the time in New Jersey.

I think it was Christmas 2002, I got the Jason Kidd jersey with the argyle pattern on the side. So to see that make its way back to these uniforms in addition to all of the other elements I named. It's a win.

Irving: That's the first time I saw the logo on the belt buckle and that's awesome. I do really like those Nets uniforms. As you said, they did a great job of incorporating a bunch of different eras but did it without it looking congested or forced. That's not an easy task to accomplish.

If we have a moment for an honourable mention before we call it, I'd like to toss out one more of my favourites which, based on other opinions I've seen on Twitter, I'm coming to realize I'm zagging while everyone else is zigging.

McGregor: When you put it that way… I have to know

Irving: city edition

Am I crazy for really liking these Cavaliers uniforms?

I really dig the throwback logo and number font, I've always been a fan of the checkered border and it's cool how they used two more different logos on the shorts from two different eras of the franchise.

McGregor: You know what, I don't think they're as bad as they're being made out to be.

Interesting is a way I'd put it. But in a good way!

Honestly, it brings me back to that 2007-2010 LeBron era when the Cavs had a gazillion uniform combinations. And I've always been a big fan of the '90s Cavs logo. Not crazy at all for liking them.

As for any of them. I guess all that's left is seeing them in action, right?

You can find out when your favourite team will don their new City Edition uniforms on LockerVision.nba.com.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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