Presenting the best uniforms by every NBA team in honor of the league’s 75th anniversary.
Every NBA Team’s Best Jersey
Atlanta Hawks (1982–92)
To me, a team’s best jersey is often one I associate with a great player or great moment, and just the sight of the white banner across the red jersey—connecting with the white on the shorts, which also had the Hawks’ Pac Man logo—gets visions of Dominique Wilkins dancing in my head. —Mark Bechtel
Boston Celtics (Basically any version of “CELTIC” Green)
Few artifacts across all of sports tie generations together like the Celtics’ iconic green home jerseys. Worn from the start of the 1970s onward, they are simple yet timeless and represent the success of some of the sport’s stars, from Larry Bird to Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Sure, the franchise has tried a few alternative variations in recent years, but no matter how things change, the green “CELTIC” uniform seems to stay the same. —Ben Pickman
Brooklyn Nets (1972–81)
A great jersey lives as one with the shorts. When they played in New York and in their early Jersey days, the Nets sported these star-spangled, patriotic classics. —M.B.
Charlotte Hornets (1988–2001)
One of the best uniforms to ever grace an NBA court. The pinstripes and the teal color scheme screams ’90s basketball! It also brings to mind players like Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson, Mugsy Bogues and Dell Curry. The Hornets brought back the pinstripes for the 2020–21 season, but it doesn't even come close to the original. —Jarrel Harris
Chicago Bulls (1985–present)
You can walk anywhere in the world and find a No. 23 Bulls jersey, and that is why the red-and-black Chicago jersey is the choice. —J.H.
Cleveland Cavaliers (1974–81)
Tough call. Do you go with the classic wine-and-gold they wore from 1974–81, or the orange-and-blue the team wore during its heyday in the late ’80s–early ’90s? We’re going classic, if only because the color scheme is incredible and I’m a sucker for checkerboards up the sides. —M.B.
Dallas Mavericks (1980s)
The 1980s jersey is clean and crisp, with a nice hit from a secondary color. (Are you paying attention, Celtics?) That cowboy hat logo remains one of the best in history. —M.B.
Denver Nuggets (1982-1993)
I was always a fan of the logo with the bearded prospector jumping in the air while holding a ball and a pick, but Denver never really did a good job incorporating Maxie the Miner into a uniform. So we’ll go with the old-school jerseys the team wore from 1982–93, featuring a skyline that looks like it came straight from an eight-bit video game. —M.B.
Detroit Pistons (1978-81)
Ironically, these beauties were used from 1978–81, just before the Pistons turned to one of the worst jerseys ever, a gray number that looked like a white jersey that had been washed in hot water with some dark colors. TBH, I don’t remember seeing them, probably because the Pistons were so meh at the time. But man, that lightning bolt gets the job done. —M.B.
Golden State Warriors (1966–1971)
The rare jersey where the back is cooler than the front—which is saying something in this case, because the “The City” fronts the Warriors sported when they won the title in 1967 remain an absolute classic. But the star of this show is the cable car on the back. —M.B.
Houston Rockets (1972–1995)
Growing up, I loved my space-themed Steve Francis jersey when the franchise wore them from 1995 to 2003. But nothing beats the old-school, ketchup-red Rockets jersey with yellow trim around the neck and shoulders, along with the shorts that contained the white waistband and Rockets’ logo that were worn from 1976 to ’95. While this jersey was an update from the initial red jersey, it brings back the memories of the great Hakeem Olajuwon era and the team’s back-to-back championships in ’94 and ’95, with the latter title featuring “Clyde the Glyde” Drexler, Kenny Smith, Robert Horry, Olajuwon and Sam Cassell. —Wilton Jackson
Indiana Pacers (1990–97)
Known as the “Flo-Jo’s” after legendary Olympic sprinter Florence Griffith-Joyner, these uniforms were worn during a high-point of the Pacers’ ’90s run, when playoff appearances were standard and Reggie Miller was lighting up the rest of the Eastern Conference. It also introduced a V-neck jersey, longer shorts and a more comfortable fabric to a design that remains unmatched. —B.P.
Los Angeles Clippers (1971–73)
Before they became the Clippers, the Buffalo Braves had two of the classiest sets of unis the league has seen. The baby-blue jerseys of the mid-1970s are fantastic, but they don’t top the team’s short-lived orange-and-black color scheme. —M.B.
Los Angeles Lakers (1966–99)
One of the most iconic uniforms in all of sports is the Lakers’ gold uniforms worn during the Showtime and early Shaq-and-Kobe era. —J.H.
Memphis Grizzlies (1995–2000)
A true vintage classic, the Vancouver Grizzlies jerseys featured both an eye-popping logo and jersey. Though they’ve been out of the team’s regular home-road rotation for more than a decade, in recent years the Grizzlies have unveiled alternate jerseys that pay homage to this iconic design. It’s a decision perhaps only as believed as the team’s selection of star point guard Ja Morant. —B.P.
Miami Heat (2019–20)
It was hard picking against the traditional or the classic red alternate Heat jerseys that stars like Dwyane Wade, Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal played in. But regardless of whether you played Grand Theft Auto: Vice City growing up, Miami’s fourth edition of the vice collection jerseys are still a hit. The vibrant blue jersey, much like the vibrant nightlife in the city, in conjunction with the black-and-pink accents perfectly encapsulated the culture of Miami. It’s also the uniform associated with Miami’s Eastern Conference championship run during the 2019–20 season. —W.J.
Milwaukee Bucks (1981–86)
Milwaukee has a long history of great jerseys, from the script-heavy tops of the early Kareem Abdul-Jabbar days to the Cream City numbers they wore as their City Edition jerseys two years ago. But as mentioned, I’m a sucker for checkerboard patterns up the side, so the 1981–86 home jerseys—with just the perfect touch of red—take top honors. —M.B.
Minnesota Timberwolves (1996–2008)
I badly want to include the Prince City Edition uniform, but I did not want the state of Minnesota coming after me if I didn't include the Timberwolves’ jerseys of the early 2000s.The green trees lining the outside of the jersey pay tribute to the Minnesota state tree and brings a dose of nostalgia for the KG era. —J.H.
New Orleans Pelicans (2008–13)
In his 17th NBA season, with the Suns, Chris Paul reminded the basketball world that he will be remembered as one of the greatest point guards in NBA history. But, before he became an 11-time All Star, he was laying the foundation for his future Hall of Fame career in this ’90s=style pinstripe jersey (which holds inspiration from the team’s time in Charlotte) with the then New Orleans Hornets. While facing tons of injuries and leaving the French Quarter for the bright lights of Los Angeles, he changed the Hornets/Pelicans franchise in this uniform. —W.J.
New York Knicks (1997–2001)
This is the jersey the Knicks wore in their last appearance in the NBA Finals in 1999. The black strip made the classic blue-and-orange pop just a bit more. You can’t help but think about former Knicks stars like Patrick Ewing, Latrell Sprewell, Allan Houston and Larry Johnson wearing this. — J.H.
Oklahoma City Thunder (1985–95)
When the Supersonics moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder, they came up with a whole new color scheme—one that includes a whole lot of colors, none of which really pop. Why not stick with these classics? —M.B.
Orlando Magic (1988–98)
This jersey should have lasted a lifetime for the Magic. It should have been like a Celtics, Lakers or a Bulls jersey, but for the new era. A jersey that should get touched. You think of the team’s successful run with Shaq and Penny in the ’90s. The royal-blue, black and white color palette mixed in with the pinstripes was awesome. —J.H.
Philadelphia 76ers (1978–91)
While growing up as one the biggest Allen Iverson fans—wearing his headband, wristband and his finger bands while rocking the white 1997–2009 Sixers jersey—Philly’s red jerseys from ’78 to ’91 are vintage in that they represent toughness and grit. The franchise from the late ’70s to the early ’80s witnessed its fair share of NBA title chances ended by the Trail Blazers, the then Washington Bullets, the Lakers and the Celtics. But when Philadelphia greats oDr. J and Moses Malone–one of the most dynamic duos in NBA history—teamed up in the ’82–83 season, they rocked these jerseys all the way to NBA championship, defeating Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Lakers in the NBA Finals. —W.J.
Phoenix Suns (1992–2000)
An iconic ’90s NBA uniform, the Suns’ home uniform from 1992–2000—with the flames running across the middle connecting the fireball—always stood out on the hardwood. The fireball gives NBA Jam video game vibes (hopefully people still remember this series). But, some of the best NBA moments were captured in this uniform: Rex Chapman’s three-pointer at the buzzer in the 1997 NBA playoffs, Kevin Johnson’s dunk over Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley’s MVP season and the Suns’ NBA Finals appearance in ’93. —W.J.
Portland Trail Blazers (1974–77)
It’s hard to pick just one Trail Blazers uniform as the best in the franchise’s history as the red, white and black combination helps make seemingly any jersey the team sports look clean. But this selection harkens back to the Blazers of the mid-1970s and the lone time that the Trail Blazers took home the NBA’s title. —B.P.
Sacramento Kings (1994–2002)
When looking at the white jersey with the curved “Kings” across the top from 1994–2002, it brings back vivid memories of Rick Adelman on the sidelines of ARCO Arena coaching some of the greatest Kings players of all time: Mike Bibby, Bobby Jackson, Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, sharpshooting Peja Stojaković and a young Hedo Türkoğlu. This jersey was worn in one of the most iconic moments in the Kings’ ’01-02 Western Conference finals battle with the Shaquille O’Neal–and—Kobe Bryant–led Lakers. That matchup in those jerseys was one for the ages. —W.J.
San Antonio Spurs (2020)
San Antonio has had basically the same jerseys since Pop was in short pants, so holding one up as the best is silly. They’re fine uniforms. When you come up with something as clever as making the U in Spurs an actual spur, you’ve done something you shouldn’t change. But as classic as they are, they can’t touch the 2020 City Edition jersey, which featured the Fiesta color pattern that was part of the team’s logo, warmups and floor in the 1990s—but not part of the uniforms. —M.B.
Toronto Raptors (1995–98)
Much like the Vancouver Grizzlies, the Raptors jerseys of the late 1990s feature a number of elements of a design from that era: namely an eye-catching purple base and a giant red dinosaur across the front. Often known as the “Barney” uniforms, these have become a staple piece at dunk contests and have even been dusted off as alternative jerseys in recent seasons. —B.P.
Utah Jazz (1974–87)
Green has made a comeback with the Jazz in recent years, a fitting homage to these jerseys the team wore just after moving from New Orleans to Utah. —M.B.
Washington Wizards (1970s)
There have been a lot of different designs and color schemes across the organization since its founding in the early 1960s. The team’s red, white and blue Bullets jerseys of the ’70s, though, remain a beloved, and classic, part of the team’s history. —B.P.
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