Your NBA uniform report: City edition

Nike unveils city edition unis (0:50)

Rachel Nichols, Amin Elhassan and Kevin Arnovitz look at some of Nike's most impressive NBA city edition uniforms, including LeBron James' "The Land" jersey and Ben Simmons' off-white abbreviated "Phila" jersey. (0:50)

Throwback designs notwithstanding, each NBA team has four uniforms this season. The first three -- a whopping 90 uniform designs when multiplied by the 30 teams in the league -- were unveiled this summer. Most of the remaining designs are finally being unveiled today.

Nike, the league's uniform supplier, is referring to these alternate uniforms as "city editions," so many them have a local theme. Most of them are completely new designs, though a few are basically retreads of what the NBA used to refer to as "pride uniforms." Several are excellent and several are awful, with most falling somewhere in between.

Here's one observer's grades for the new designs, ranked from first to worst, with the usual caveat that it's hard to fully assess a uniform until we see it on the court. In keeping with Uni Watch's steadfast opposition to uniform ads, the 19 NBA teams that currently wear corporate advertising patches on their jerseys had their grades docked a notch.

Ready? Here we go.


Last season the Grizzlies unveiled a sensational alternate uniform that honored Martin Luther King Jr. This season they're honoring Dr. King with another design, this one based on the protest signs from the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers' strike. An excellent history lesson, and kudos to the team for sticking to the minimalist design approach -- a rare move at a time when so many uniforms are filled with extraneous bells and whistles (additional info here). Grade: A


Thing of beauty, right? From the gorgeous chest script to the slightly off-white fabric color inspired by the Declaration of Independence's parchment paper, this is an instant classic and immediately vaults to the upper echelon of the league's uniform designs (additional photos here). Even better, it's going to get a lot of use, as the Sixers plan to wear it for all Friday night home games after January and for every home game in April. Would they consider making it their primary home uni next season? We can only hope. Docked a grade for the inclusion of an ad patch. Grade: A-


Ever since the Bucks added cream to their color scheme in 2015, the big question has been whether they'd go all-in on a cream-toned uniform. Now they've done it, and the results are very positive (additional info here). The rainbow stripes look great, and the front uni number looks good below the deer's head (instead of between the antlers, as seen on the team's other alternate uniform). Very nice work. Docked a grade for the inclusion of an ad patch. Grade: A-


The Warriors' old "The City" design -- considered by many, including your friendly uniform columnist, to be the greatest uniform in basketball history -- is the gift that keeps on giving, as Golden State continues to come up with new riffs on that classic concept. This one is loaded with Chinese symbolism, including a dragon on the chest. It all looks sensational -- the design, the colors, the works. Docked a grade for the inclusion of an ad patch. Grade: A-


Basically the same thing as their previous Chinese New Year uniforms but without the sleeves. Addition by subtraction. Grade: A-


How is it possible that no major sports team has ever had a firefighter-themed uniform before? This one totally works. Great concept, great execution. Docked a notch for the inclusion of an ad patch. Grade: B+


The Bulls' classic "Chicago" script has never appeared on a white jersey before. The light-blue trim and the stars on the side panels are based on the Chicago city flag. The overall effect is nice, if a bit subdued. Bonus points for the matching socks. Grade: B+


Holy tequila sunrise, Batman! Utah's new design, with its orange stripe gradation, has unmistakable echoes of the Houston Astros' classic rainbow jersey, but the inspiration here is Utah's distinctive red-rock landscape (which is also featured on the state's license plates). This uniform will be paired with a new alternate court (additional info here and here). Not bad, although the color scheme seems more like something the Suns would wear, not the Jazz. Grade: B+


Here we have the most cringe-inducing marketing copy of the season: "The edges of light bordering our universe reveal a vastness greater than our imagination. Emblematic of the desire to achieve more, the Orlando Magic City Edition uniform is the will to break boundaries, push our outer confines and find something greater than our individual selves. Go higher. Go farther. Go deeper. Be limitless." Once you get past all of that nonsense, the initial promo photos aren't bad, though this feels like one of those designs that need to hit the court before they can be fully addressed. Docked a notch for the inclusion of an ad patch. Grade: B


For years now, teams have been coming out with gray uniforms and calling them silver, even though we all know they're just gray. But the Cavs' new alternate really does have more of a silver feel to it, maybe because of the gold trim, making this the rare gray uni that works reasonably well (although the big honking wordmark down the shorts is a bit much). And, yes, Cavs fans really do refer to Cleveland as "The Land." Docked a notch for the inclusion of an ad patch. Grade: B


From the lion's head crest to the unusual color-blocked design, this one will likely have fans screaming, "It looks more like a soccer uniform!" But the visual effect is interesting and the matching court design (one of three Kings courts this season) is a nice touch. Docked a notch for the inclusion of an ad patch. Grade: B


The Pelicans' new design is similar to the Mardi Gras jersey that the franchise wore several years ago (back when they were the Hornets), but with a twist: For players with double-digit uni numbers, the numerals are staggered to "reproduce the city's energy." Uh-huh. Docked a grade for the inclusion of an ad patch. Grade: B


Interesting to see a Washington team wearing "District of Columbia" on its chest -- a good move. But the white-on-white uni numbers are a legibility nightmare and a big unforced error. This one could have -- and should have -- been better. Grade: B


This is the third "Motor City" uniform the Pistons have had in five seasons. First came this basic design in 2013, and then they added sleeves to it the following year. As for this new version, it's weird to see a Pistons uni that doesn't include any red, but the simplicity of the design works well, and the new side piping is much better than the old version. Docked a notch for the inclusion of an ad patch. Grade: B


It was just a few months ago that the Pacers unveiled a new uniform set based on circular chest lettering -- a bold, attractive design element no other team in the league was using. Now they're already deviating from that with vertically stacked lettering? It's too much, too soon, and the checkerboard pattern carries reminders of the Charlotte Bobcats. Not a terrible design, but it's maybe not the best one for this team at this time (additional photos here). Grade: B


In the past, several teams at a time have worn Spanish-language jerseys as part of the NBA's Noches Latinas program. This year, it appears that only the Suns are participating, which makes this design feel oddly isolated and out of context. Grade: B-

Trail Blazers

This isn't the first time the Blazers have used a plaid pattern to honor former coach Jack Ramsay and his famously loud attire. They wore a plaid memorial patch for him in 2014. But that patch was multicolored, while this new uniform just has a black-on-black plaid pattern. Come on, Blazers -- have the courage of your convictions and go with a real plaid uni, not just a plaid-evocative uni. Bold concept, timid execution. Grade: B-


OK, so it's fun that they're evoking the old San Diego Clippers colors and logo, but anything with the current chest mark feels tainted. This team needs to blow up its visual program and start over. Grade: C+


It's nice that the side panels and the pinstripes reference the Brooklyn Bridge's towers and cables, but that 180-degree arc on the chest lettering is brutal. Also, last time anyone checked, the Brooklyn Bridge is not black and white. A textbook case of an interesting concept that probably looked fun on the drawing board but doesn't work in real life. Docked a grade for the inclusion of an ad patch. Grade: C


If the chest logo on the Nuggets' new alternate looks familiar, that's because it's a larger version of the design that appeared on their recent "white gold" alternates. On the plus side, they scrapped the sleeves and didn't make any of their players pose with a pickaxe this time around (one of the more embarrassing promotional moves of recent years). On the minus side, the chest mark now feels oversized and clunky, the uni number is now riding too low on the jersey, and the lack of powder blue feels like a missed opportunity. Docked a notch for the inclusion of an ad patch. Grade: C-


The good news is that this gray design doesn't have sleeves like the Celtics' previous gray alternate had. The bad news is that gray is still a brutal color for an NBA uniform and doubly brutal for a legacy franchise like the Celtics. Yes, the parquet floor pattern is an interesting touch that adds a sense of texture, but here's a news flash: Boston's court is not gray. Docked a notch for the inclusion of an ad patch. Grade: C


Strip away the latest silly name that the marketing department came up with -- "Black Mamba Edition," "Lore Series," "Hollywood Nights" or whatever -- and this is really just the Lakers' latest black alternate uniform. And with the black-on-black typography, it's clearly the worst one they've done so far. Docked a notch for the inclusion of an ad patch. Grade: C-


The incredible thing here is that this neon-trimmed slice of demographic calculation might actually be the best of the Hawks' four nonthrowback uniforms. Docked a noach for the inclusion of an ad patch. Grade: C-


It's bad enough to go the lazy default route of trotting out a black uniform when black isn't one of your team colors, but using black-on-black lettering and numbering is a big no-no. A major downgrade from the original "Buzz City" alternates. Docked a notch for the inclusion of an ad patch. Grade: C-


Yes, we all know by now that wolves are gray. So is dust, cigarette ash, smog and your hair as you get older. You know what else is gray? Really drab, uninspired basketball uniforms, including this one. Docked a notch for the inclusion of an ad patch. Grade: C-


The Spurs already had one of history's worst camouflage uniforms, and now they have another one. Not really a category in which you want to be leading the league. Grade: D+


Woof. Grade: D-


Double-woof. Grade: F

Want to see more? There's additional info on all of the designs here. And if you're looking for the Raptors' and Heat's designs, the league says those will be revealed at a later date, though we already have a pretty good idea of what they'll look like thanks to merchandise sightings. Still, those designs could change, so we'll see.

Paul Lukas wishes all Uni Watch readers a happy new year. If you like this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, check out his Uni Watch merchandise, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.