The first year of Nike’s partnership with the NBA brought fans closer than ever to their home teams with the introduction of City Edition uniforms. The approach was straight-forward: take features of a team’s city and incorporate them into the uniform’s design. But the inspirations were far from simple. Architecture, landmarks, famous figures and mottos became creative backdrops for the jerseys, creating a piece of fan culture that’s wholly loyal to communities across the League.
This year, City Edition uniforms are back, and each jersey offers more details that provide a deeper look at a team’s relationship with its city. Some elements are familiar. Others are new. One point that hasn’t changed: City Edition uniforms come straight from the source — the fans who form the cultures of their zip codes.
Go Behind the Design of Minnesota, Brooklyn And More
The figurehead for the Brooklyn Nets’ City Edition jersey is a local who made his name known across the world: the late Christopher Latore Wallace, the Notorious B.I.G. himself. As Biggie rose in popularity and revived East Coast rap, he brought Brooklyn with him, spreading his legacy past his Clinton Hill home.
That legacy on the mic appears on details of the uniform, most notably the multicolor camo print along the side panels. The technicolor design points to Biggie's connection to his community and the artistic stylings he made popular.
In 1984, a talented musician out of Minneapolis released an album and a loosely autobiographical film that showcased his hometown’s full creative powers. The late Prince Rogers Nelson, better known to the world by his first name, would leave a powerful mark on music history. This year, his would-be 60th birthday, serves as the inspiration behind Minnesota’s “Purple Rain” City Edition uniforms.
The jersey has recognizable details from outfits that Prince wore in his music videos. On the right shoulder, a metallic graphic is reminiscent of the studs on Prince's jacket. The team script mirrors the lettering on the original Purple Rain album cover. White accents throughout the jersey nod to his ruffled blouses. Inside the shorts’ left vent, a paisley graphic honors Paisley Park Records, Prince’s first label.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder’s City Edition uniform honors the American Indian Nations in Oklahoma with design elements inspired by traditional Native regalia. The geometric shapes that compose the chest script model native beadwork. Hidden inside the shorts is a turtle graphic, that features the circular shape symbolizing the earth and the four legs that represent the four corners of the medicine wheel. The jersey’s turquoise base color, a customary color of friendship, holds special significance for the 2018-19 season: Turquoise is the eleventh anniversary stone in Native tradition, and the 2018-19 season is the eleventh for the Thunder in Oklahoma City.
The distinctly Philadelphian history of determination and industriousness is woven into the details of the 76ers City Edition jersey. A heather gray completes the base color. The off-white stars are meant to resemble parchment paper, a nod to the Declaration of Independence, and more patriotic details appear throughout the uniform, from the red, white and blue on the collar and sleeves to the “Join, or Die” ultimatum on the shorts. The team’s name on the chest is eschewed for 13 stars, representing the original 13 colonies.
Mention personal expression in basketball and the mind goes to audacious shoe colorways or pregame outfits. It’s easy to forget about the basketball court as a canvas for expression. It was in 1977, when a famous artist was assigned to paint the floor of Milwaukee’s MECCA Arena as an idiosyncratic art piece. Its abstract arrangement of color-blocked blues, reds, greens and golds is the focal point of Milwaukee’s 2018-19 City Edition uniforms.
The colors in the uniform refer to shades in the state’s natural color palette. The blue represents Lake Michigan, the green an ode to the state’s verdant landscape and the gold a callout to Milwaukee’s “Cream City” nickname.