For the fourth year in a row, Nike and the NBA have brought back the City Edition jerseys. The goal of these uniforms is to evoke city-wide pride for each franchise, showcasing aspects of their city that fans can relate to and identify with. While each team and its fans have their sentiments about how the 2020-2021 jerseys turned out, so do we. We are giving you the story behind each team’s jersey and ranking them.
Starting December 3rd, all NBA City Jerseys can be purchased here.
Yes. Just, yes.
The Spurs are bringing back a piece of franchise history as they don their classic fiesta colors. These colors became popular between 1989 and their first championship in 1999. The Admiral, David Robinson, even approves.
A modern take on franchise history
Philly is back in black. Their infamous black jerseys were their road game uniform and marked the beginning of a uniform collection that lasted from 1997-2009. The black is most remembered as a part of their Finals run in 2001. Also, on the jersey is the city’s iconic Boathouse Row outline, and if you look close enough, you might see the letters “TTP” hidden as a nod to the Sixers famous “Trust the Process” slogan.
Word on the street is the Brooklyn Nets will wear a Jean-Michel Basquiat inspired jersey next season.— UK Nets Fans ◼️◻️ (@UKNetsFans) October 28, 2020
The artist was born in Brooklyn in 1960.
What are your thoughts? pic.twitter.com/eq6SbWkiXw
The Brooklyn Nets continue to celebrate Brooklyn artists with their team gear. Last year it was Biggie Smalls; this year, the Nets honor Brooklyn native Jean-Michel Basquiat. Basquiat was born in Brooklyn in 1960 and became known for his graffiti in the 1970s.
Pinstripes are in this season
After just one year without, the Hornets reintroduce “BUZZ CITY” to the front of their fresh mint-colored city jerseys. The mint is complemented by gold and granite ridged trim, which celebrate the city even more. Charlotte is the second largest banking center in the United States, and the ridged trim and pinstripes represent the edge of a coin.
When creating this jersey, the Kings looked to weave together aspects of older uniforms fans loved over the years. Hoping to evoke a sense of nostalgia, the Kings gained inspiration from their 1985 Baby Blue Road Uniform, 1994 Checker Alternate Uniform, 2000 Black Road Uniform, and their recent 2019 Sactown City Edition Uniform.
The Orlando Magic mixed old with new as they unveiled their second orange jersey. The original Orlando font with pinstripes brings in the old, while the orange color brings a new-age vibe to their threads.
For the first time since 2013, the Pacers will sport pinstripes. Returning to one of their most iconic looks, Indiana hopes to find the “Power IN Pinstripes,” donning navy blue as the primary color with gold stripes.
Loving all the colors
Like Philly, the Suns are also back in black, but that’s not the biggest story behind their city jerseys this year. The focus is on the word “The Valley”. From the South Mountain range to Cave Buttes and beyond, the Phoenix Valley culture runs deep. In these jerseys, Suns celebrate “The Valley” as its franchise’s home and the youthful culture that the young core, the “Valley Boyz,” have built.
Say it with me, COL-OR-FUL. These gradient uniforms are the firth and final installment of the Heat’s Vice campaign, which began in 2017. But this jersey introduces a new color, “Vice Violet,” to this collection.
Inspired by the Great Lakes and the meaning of their home city, Milwaukee, the Bucks give us this year’s city jersey, “The Gathering Place.” The uniform is very colorful, featuring three shades of blue that represent Lake Michigan, as well as the three rivers that run through their city.
This year, the Rockets are donning the city’s famous Columbia blue, scarlet red, and white. The jersey is a nod to their very own Houston Oilers, the old American Football League and NFL team. The Oilers were part of Houston until 1996, when they moved to Memphis. Mixing new school vibes with this throwback jersey, the Rockets have “H-TOWN” across their chest, similar to what we saw on their city jerseys last season.
Inspired by something greater.— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) December 3, 2020
We are the the North Star State.
While the Timberwolves jerseys are not the most vibrant of the ones listed, their green trim against the black base is a good look. This is the first time the Wolves will sport black jerseys since 2013.
Represents their city well
The Atlanta Hawks pay tribute to one of the city’s most iconic and revolutionary natives, Martin Luther King Jr. The legacy of the late civil rights activist permeates the city with deep roots from the King Center to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and beyond. As the Hawks look to preserve his legacy, proceeds from this jersey will support various economic empowerment programs for communities of color in Atlanta.
The gold and red “CHICAGO” letters across the chest of the Bills’ jersey are a nod to the recognizable marquee at the Chicago Theater. The Chicago Theater is an iconic piece of the Windy City as it often represents Chicago in culture through films, television, artwork, and photography.
The @memgrizz are celebrating the life of singer/songwriter Isaac Hayes and the legacy of Stax Records during the 2020-21 season with their new “Memphis Soul City Edition” Nike uniforms.— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) November 24, 2020
More from @MarcJSpears: https://t.co/zno4fqaEWd pic.twitter.com/flZcXGulu9
This year, the Memphis Grizzlies pay tribute to their soul-filled city as they honor a Memphis native, Isaac Hayes. Isaac was a singer/songwriter, best known for his Oscar and Grammy-winning theme song from the movie Shaft, and his work for Stax Records, which was based in Memphis. The alternating striping on the black jersey represents the grooves found on the Stax’s vinyl records. The Grizzlies even worked in the Stax logo as part of the design.
“A” for effort
Home to the Rock and Roll Hall of fame, Cleveland released a creative jersey that uses the fonts and letters from eight famous bands and artists such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Nirvana, and others to spell out “Cleveland” across the chest of their jerseys. Very clever Cavs, but is it clever enough for people to buy?
I’ll pass on these
Our 2020-21 uniform celebrates the unique beauty of Oregon’s landscape as well as acknowledging & honoring the tribal nations throughout what is now considered Oregon who have called this land their home from the beginning.— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) October 29, 2020
Take a closer look: https://t.co/rDbfOWf2In pic.twitter.com/j7fKjOGA3w
The Trailblazers’ jersey is a nod to the scenic landscape and topography of Oregon, as well as a tribute to the tribal nations that have existed throughout the region since the beginning.
Oakland is and will always be a part of our team’s identity.— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) November 2, 2020
“Oakland Forever," presented by @Rakuten, is a nod to the We Believe era and its turning point in Oakland’s basketball history.
To honor the Town, we partnered with Nike to put a spin on these classic uniforms. pic.twitter.com/d7nUAJLbzM
Inspired by the team uniforms worn from 1997-2010, the Warriors celebrate 47 seasons in the Bay with their Oakland Forever jerseys. These jerseys focus on the We Believe era that included a playoff run in 2007. That year, the Warriors, an eight-seed, beat a one-seed, the Dallas Mavericks, for the first time in a best-of-seven playoff series.
OKC looked as though they teamed up with Love’s, one of their corporate partners, to create this jersey. The stripes give the uniform a raceway-gas station kind of look, and you guessed it, Love’s is a travel truck stop company.
We’ve seen these before
A motor that won't quit. pic.twitter.com/CqujFPHfZu— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) November 20, 2020
For the fourth year in a row, the Pistons are coming out with another “Motor City” jersey. Yes, another. At least they’re consistent.
Denver didn’t get too adventurous when designing this year’s city jersey. They brought back the skyline design that made its debut in 2018-2019 when the Nuggets sported their beloved rainbow design. This year the jerseys are red as a nod to Colorado’s landscape. The flatiron red color is also the universal color for goodwill, which is something the Denver franchise looked to capture in the meaning behind their jersey.
We’ve seen this before, but not on a previous Celtics’ city jersey. This year they made their jerseys look like their championship banner from 2008. If you can’t hang a new banner, you might as well wear one.
Like many other teams, the Utah Jazz has chosen black as the main color for their city jerseys this year. For some teams, black is a part of their history; it’s a style choice for others. The latter is true for Utah, but their new “dark mode” jerseys are another iteration of their original red-rock, gradient city uniforms.
Everything looks better in black. pic.twitter.com/L2ts1UmGlT— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) December 1, 2020
The trend of black jerseys continues with the Clippers, but it doesn’t seem like LA searched too hard for inspiration this year. The city jerseys are just like last year’s, but with black as the primary color. These jerseys are a nod to LA’s street culture as the Clippers partnered for the second time with Mister Cartoon, a globally renowned artist, and for the first time, Royyal Dog, an LA-based graffiti and street artist, to create these uniforms.
As a continuation of their “Welcome Toronto” initiative and their collaboration with Toronto’s very own rap artist, Drake, the Raptors will sport black and gold again.
The Wizards sport the same design as last year, but instead of the primary color being white, they went with gray.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers keep their franchise font but don blue and white as they reference the Minneapolis and 1960s LA Lakers.
Dallas missed the mark on this year’s city jersey. The jerseys are plain, and the storytelling behind them could be better. The silver and gold are a nod to the Mavericks 2011 NBA Championship season and the wings, a tribute to the Greek mythological creature, the Pegasus. For many years Pegasus has watched over Dallas and been a symbol of growth and prosperity. Heading into this season, the Mavericks hope to channel Pegasus’ power and the glory of their last championship to create a little magic of their own. With that said, the jerseys and the story behind them could both be better.
There were so many directions the Knicks could have gone here, and simple striping is not what I was expecting.
That’s our review of the 2020-2021 City Edition jerseys so far. Which teams do you think had the best ones?
Starting December 3rd, all NBA City Jerseys can be purchased here.