NBA Teams
Paul Lukas, ESPN.com 5d

The NBA wraps up the City series rollout

NBA

After a flurry of unveilings, NBA teams have finished rolling out this season's City Edition uniforms. Twenty-nine of the league's 30 teams have new City designs (the Jazz are sticking with last season's design), and they'll start appearing on the court on Friday night.

Your friendly uniform columnist has already assessed and graded the first and second rounds of this year's City designs. Here are some thoughts on the third and final round of releases, from best to worst:

New Orleans Pelicans

Oooh, beauty. Easily the best uniform the Pelicans have ever worn. Only the flush-left number, which feels a bit off (wouldn't centered or even flush right be better?), keeps this one from getting a perfect mark. Grade: A

Boston Celtics

Green and gold? Always a winning combination here at Uni Watch HQ, plus it's a quantum leap over last season's gray City alternate. Grade: A-

Golden State Warriors

The Warriors' old "The City" design continues to be the gift that keeps on giving. Last year, the team riffed on that theme by creating alternate uniforms emblazoned with "The Town" and "The Bay," and now they have a new Bay-themed design. It's another winner, although a splash of additional color wouldn't hurt. Grade: A-

Houston Rockets

At first glance, it's basically a repeat of last season's design. Look closer, though, and you can see it's clearly an upgrade. The cloud pattern on the jersey refers to "Auspicious Cloud," the former Chinese anthem, and there's a great rocket graphic on the shorts. The gold trim looks better than last season's white/silver trim, too. Grade: A-

Atlanta Hawks

The gold trim, which is part of the Hawks' 50th-anniversary celebration, looks like one of those gold-themed MLB World Series champion uniforms, but it works. Or maybe it's just a relief to see a Hawks uni that doesn't have neon-toned graphics or faux-textured fabric. Either way, thumbs-up. Additional info here. Grade: B+

Toronto Raptors

Essentially a repeat of last year's design, but it looks better on a white jersey, and the uni numbers will definitely be easier to read this time around. Grade: B+

Dallas Mavericks

Yawn, another black alternate design. Except this one actually works, with the blue elements really popping against the black background. Too bad about the vertical lettering at the base of the shorts, though, which feels like an afterthought. Grade: B+

New York Knicks

Wait a minute, weren't retro designs supposed to be categorized as the "Classic Edition," not the "City Edition"? Whatever. This is a slight variation on a throwback that the Knicks wore in 2005-06, and then they wore the corresponding white home version in 2015-16. Overall, this one feels like a placeholder or fallback option, like they couldn't come up with anything else that worked, ran out of time and just went with an old reliable. Grade: B

Memphis Grizzlies

If you go to the Grizzlies' website and read the story behind this uniform, you'll learn that it's a tribute to Memphis' old pro wrestling days, complete with gold side panels that are meant to look like a wrestling belt. Fun idea, but at the end of the day, it feels like just another gray uniform in a sport that already has too many of them. Interesting concept, middling execution. Grade: B

Indiana Pacers

Hmmm, another gray uniform with navy and gold trim. Are the Pacers and Grizzlies trying to save on design fees or something? The one-sided striping is a shoutout to Indiana's old "Flo-Jo" uniforms from the 1990s, which is a nice touch. Overall, though, this uniform feels uninspired. It's not a disaster, but it seems to have no real reason to exist, and the world would go on spinning just fine without it. Grade: B-

Sacramento Kings

What do you do when you have to come up with a new design but you kinda liked last season's design? If you're the Kings, you keep the same core uniform but swap out your chest logo for some lettering and hope nobody notices that it's a downgrade. Grade: B-

Portland Trail Blazers

Here we see one of the major problems with the City Edition program. Last season the Blazers had one of the better City designs, featuring a subtle plaid pattern that was a tribute to former coach Dr. Jack Ramsay. That's a great concept that deserved to be part of their permanent uniform wardrobe -- but because the City alternates have only a one-year shelf life before they're swapped out, the plaid design is now gone and has been replaced by an uninspired black-and-gray design. A lose-lose. Grade: C

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers use their City uniforms to celebrate legendary players from their past. Last season's design was a tribute to Kobe Bryant. This year's is all about Magic Johnson, with little Magic-themed design touches on the waistband, shorts and elsewhere. There's subtle messaging embedded in the jersey pinstripes, too. But when you get past all of that -- most of which will be invisible when you're watching a game -- you're left with a purple uniform with black pinstripes -- ugh. And why put the city name and the team name on the chest? Yes, I know, because this is the City alternate, but it still looks too clunky. Grade: C

Cleveland Cavaliers

This is essentially a color-shifted version of the Cavs' mid-'90s road uniform -- one of the worst designs in NBA history. It takes guts to revive a lemon and try to make lemonade of it, so let's at least give them some points for courage.

After more than 20 years, that mid-'90s design has achieved "So bad, it's good" status with some fans, and maybe the same thing will eventually happen with this new version. For now, though, it's just bad. Grade: C-

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers are trying to pitch this design as a nod to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics logo, but come on -- it looks like one of those generic uniforms you'd see in a commercial where they couldn't afford the licensing fee for the real uniform. Grade: C-

San Antonio Spurs

Another camouflage design. This isn't the first or even the second time the Spurs have gone this route. Meanwhile, fans are clamoring for a fiesta-themed design. Here's hoping they get it next season. Grade: D+


OK, do you have a good grip on all of those? Good! Now get ready for the "Earned Edition" uniforms, which last year's 16 postseason teams will be unveiling sometime between now and Christmas.

Paul Lukas hopes the Warriors keep riffing on that same jersey concept forever. 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.

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