Nike released its “City Edition" jerseys for 26 NBA teams Wednesday, and the reactions were... mixed. Personally, I’m a fan of strange alternate uniforms, and I’m excited when teams step away from their typical look. As far as the City Edition jerseys go, there were some definite hits, but also some solid clunkers. Drunk with power for a second time this season (you can check out my ratings of traditional unis here), I ranked the City Edition jerseys from 26 to 1.
Note: Though there are some designs floating out, the Rockets, Knicks, Raptors and Heat will unveil their official City jerseys at a later date, so we’ll hold off on them for now.
26. San Antonio Spurs
This design looks like someone at Nike realized that they still hadn’t come up with a Spurs design the day before the uniform release. The camo is so ugly, and making it 50 shades of gray makes it even worse. I would rather be forced to interview Gregg Popovich after a terrible third quarter than ever be seen wearing these in public.
25. Cleveland Cavaliers
Who told Nike people love wearing gray? These uniforms look like something a generic high school basketball team would wear during the montage of our heroes’ winning streak in a teen movie. The yellow brightens this up a little but I can’t tell if that’s a good or bad thing. LeBron is going to look so bad in these.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder
This is a slight upgrade for the Thunder, whose normal jersey set is the worst in the league. But again, too much gray, and the chest stripe comes across as childish—and not in a nostalgic way. OKC’s whole color scheme needs an overhaul.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves
After playing it bold with their first three uniforms, the Wolves get a monochrome look for their City jerseys. I don’t get it. There are no risks here, and nothing to represent Minnesota’s newfound verve as an up-and-coming contender. Why not go with something purple for Prince? Or maybe a callback to the mid-aughts? Or maybe next time Nike won’t overthink it and will make an alternate uniform with three wolves howling at the moon.
22. Boston Celtics
Enough with the gray jerseys, this isn’t baseball.
21. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are fun, new and fresh! Here’s an entire jersey paying tribute to Kobe Bryant’s self-appointed nickname!
20. Dallas Mavericks
The “DAL” across the front doesn’t do much for me, and the colors feel like a weak attempt for the Mavs to try to look hip.
19. Atlanta Hawks
I’ll never love the neon accents for the Hawks, but this is a cool wordmark and fun stripe.
18. Golden State Warriors
“The Bay” and Chinese influence are nice, but this jersey (more than most) is leaning a bit too hard into marketing strategy.
17. Phoenix Suns
This is inoffensive and I like purple.
16. Brooklyn Nets
The Nets have some of the blandest uniforms in the league, and it’s a miracle what some simple stripes can do.
15. Detroit Pistons
City nicknames as wordmarks will always do well with me, and Detroit’s City jerseys have a clean feel I can appreciate.
14. New Orleans Pelicans
NOLA has always been an extremely dope way to shorten New Orleans. Saying “NOLA Pelicans” actually rolls right off the tongue, and these jerseys are loud in a way that seems to appropriately represent the city.
13. Charlotte Hornets
“Buzz City” is a nickname that works on multiple levels, the Jordan logo is awesome, and the teal-and-purple webbing or whatever you want to call it on the side is a fun upgrade over a typical stripe.
12. Memphis Grizzlies
I love that these jerseys have roots in Memphis’s history as a hotbed for the Civil Rights Movement, and they’re done so in a way that, at least to me, doesn’t feel cheap or exploitative. It’s a uniform that truly pays respect to the city, and I like that Nike wasn’t afraid to ignore any Grizzlies connections.
11. Los Angeles Clippers
It’s not much more than a color change, but I enjoy the retro vibes of this uniform. Blake Griffin could wear these to the beach and not feel out of place.
10. Utah Jazz
The gradient pattern is extremely cool, and the white “Utah” across the front is incredibly crisp. These are going to look great on TV.
9. Sacramento Kings
More NBA jerseys should have lions on them.
8. Denver Nuggets
Denver’s color scheme is appealing, and going logo-and-no-words on the front is something more teams should do.
7. Indiana Pacers
Nice colors and the racing stripe with the “Pacers” embedded within screams Indiana. Well done.
6. Portland Trail Blazers
Rip City is up there with NOLA in terms of city nicknames. The plaid is a brilliant but subtle homage to the team’s history. The font and striping also give the jersey a welcome old-school vibe.
5. Washington Wizards
These are extremely clean, the marble-patterned sides are an awesome idea, and “the district” looks beautiful on the front of a basketball jersey.
4. Chicago Bulls
The script “Chicago” will always be cool, the colors are warm and inviting like Lake Michigan on a spring day, and the tribute to the city flag is an inspired way to represent the city. This jersey is flawless.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
The cream base and the “Phila” wordmark are just awesome. This jersey perfectly straddles the line of modern but retro, and there’s an elegance to this uniform that most teams couldn’t recreate if they tried.
2. Orlando Magic
Okay, this is what more alternate uniforms need to look like. It’s a basketball streaking through outer space! This is fun and tacky in a way your fourth jersey needs to be. I imagine this jersey will be a popular choice at college music festivals for many years to come. The colors are nice, the jersey really does look like space (or the nighttime sky, I guess), and ditching any wording on the front was an outstanding call. If every City jersey was a team’s logo traveling through space I would have had zero problems.
1. Milwaukee Bucks
These are extremely cold. They are a refreshing, crisp lemon-lime beverage on a hot day. They make me want to smack my lips. Seriously, these Bucks uniforms are so nice they feel like more than just a visual experience. The chest striping will make Giannis look extra yoked. The cream base and “Cream City” writing are absolutely perfect. And the in-your-face logo is eye-catching without being corny. These are almost too nice to wear during a basketball game.