The rear neckline isn't usually the most dynamic piece of real estate on a sports jersey. But that small area of fabric is ground zero for two important developments that will affect every NBA uniform this season.
First, the NBA logo, featuring the silhouetted image of Jerry West, has moved from its familiar spot on the upper-left chest, where it's been since 1986, to the back of the jersey. The 18 clubs that had a team logo in that spot have scrapped the team logo and replaced it with the league logo. And a screen shot from the "NBA 2K15" video game suggests that the NBA Finals patch is also moving to the back of the jersey. (There's been a lot of speculation that removing the logo from the chest was done to make room for corporate advertising patches, but that remains to be seen.)
The second change in the rear-neckline region is that teams that have won a championship -- about half the teams in the league -- will now wear a little gold patch on the back of the collar. If the team has won only one title, the patch shows the O'Brien trophy, while teams with multiple titles get to show off how many they've won.
This has led to some interesting questions. For example, will the Thunder wear a gold patch in honor of the title that the franchise won back when it was the SuperSonics? Nope. So that means the Kings won't wear a patch for the championship that the franchise won back in its Rochester Royals days, right? Wrong.
Fortunately, there's also plenty of uni-related news regarding the fronts of the uniforms. With the 2014-15 season set to tip off on Oct. 28, here's Uni Watch's annual team-by-team rundown of all the new looks you can expect to see on the court (teams not listed haven't yet announced any changes):
• Good move by the Bucks, who've lowered their "BS" level -- literally! -- by adjusting their chest insignia to eliminate the oversized "B" and "S."
• Lots of fans expected the Cavaliers to come out with a new uni design to mark LeBron James' return to the team, but uniform makeovers can't be done that quickly, so the Cavs are sticking with their primary home and road looks for now. They do, however, have a new navy blue alternate uniform (which looks a lot like one of their "CavFanatic" designs from a few years ago). Further details here. Also worth noting: Kevin Love is wearing No. 0. (For more on players who've worn zero and double-zero, look here.) Finally, the Cavs also have a new court design.
• The Celtics have changed the chest insignia on their road jersey from the team name to the city name (which is what they used to wear, albeit with a different lettering style, for the franchise's first 25 years). They'll also be wearing their gold-lettered St. Patrick's Day uniforms next March, and they have a cool new secondary logo. Finally, the Celtics are due to have a new "pride" uniform this season. It hasn't been unveiled yet, but the shorts design has leaked, and "pride" isn't exactly the word it calls to mind.
• Nothing new this season for the Grizzlies, but they appear to have something cooking for next season.
• The Hawks have changed the chest insignia on their home whites from their team name to their city name -- a surprising move, given that Atlanta is already represented on their road and alternate uniforms. On the plus side, if you look again at the new home uni, you'll see that that team's old "Pac-Man" logo is now appearing on the shorts. That's part of a broader revival of that logo, which among other things is also appearing at center court.
• The Heat, who already have the league's biggest wardrobe, are slated to unveil a new "pride" design in the near future. So far, we've only seen the shorts, which suggest that something unusual may be in the works.
• Biggest uni update of the season comes out of Charlotte, where the Bobcats are now the Hornets. The newly rebranded team's inaugural uniform set features very solid home whites and more questionable road and alternate designs. You can see preseason game photos of the home and road designs here and here, respectively. All in all, could be a lot worse. They'll be the teal alternates for Opening Night on Oct. 29. And of course a new team identity also means a new court design, which in this case includes a honeycomb-ish floor pattern.
• The Kings are going back to their late-'90s chest lettering style, plus they're marking their 30th anniversary in Sacramento with a jersey patch and a retro-style logo. In addition, the franchise's pre-Sacramento days will be honored with a Rochester Royals throwback uni. Finally, the Kings also have a new court design.
• The Knicks went 0-7 while wearing orange alternate uniforms last season, but that's not stopping them from wearing them again this season. Also: The Knicks, who are hosting this season's NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 15, will be wearing this patch for games against the Nets prior to the All-Star break.
• In a move that probably won't surprise anyone, the Lakers' black "Hollywood Nights" jersey now has -- wait for it -- sleeves.
• The Mavericks have added a star logo to the waistband of their shorts. And in an unusual move, the Mavs have also unveiled a new alternate jersey for next season -- one of the earliest unveilings in recent memory. Further info here.
• Remember the Nets' old Dr. J-era design, which was later revived as a throwback? Although it hasn't been officially announced yet, it looks like the Nets will be wearing a new version of that uniform, rendered in the team's current black-and-white color scheme. (And if you can't wait for the official unveiling, the shorts are already circulating on eBay.) Also: A lot of this season's All-Star weekend events -- the 3-point challenge, the dunk contest, and so on -- will take place at the Barclays Center, so the Nets will be wearing this patch for home games leading up to All-Star weekend in February. Also-also: Newly acquired Bojan Bogdanović has an accent in an unusual spot.
• The '90s live! Or at least they do in Indiana, where the Pacers will be wearing this 1990s throwback for select games.
• The Pelicans have a new red alternate uni -- their first uniform to feature the team's name. The team will wear it for Opening Night on Oct. 28, and also on Dec. 16, Dec. 20 and April 15 -- a surprisingly limited number of games. Meanwhile, the team also has a new court design.
• The Raptors are celebrating their 20th anniversary with a jersey patch, plus they'll be bringing back their purple "Dino" uniform as a throwback. Also: a new court design. And although the team hasn't announced anything yet, it's worth noting that the video game "NBA 2K15" shows a new sleeved version of the Raptors' camouflage jersey.
• The Rockets will mark the Lunar New Year by wearing a sleeved jersey with Chinese lettering on Feb. 21, 23 and 25. And as noted in that last link, they'll have a new alternate jersey next season. Also: The team has a new secondary logo.
• Nothing new this season for the 76ers, but they'll reportedly have new uniforms next season. And with that in mind, here's something worth noting: Earlier this year the Sixers made a change to their Summer League uniforms, which now have "Phila" on the chest. Could that be a sign of things to come for next season's new uni set? Stay tuned.
• No new uniforms for the Spurs, but the defending champs do have a new court design.
• Nothing new for the Suns, at least not yet, but word through the grapevine is that they'll be unveiling a new "pride" uniform at some point this season.
• Small change for the Trail Blazers, who've removed their colored outlining from their player name lettering. Here's how the change looks on the road jersey. Also: The team's "Rip City" alternate jersey now has sleeves. Also-also: The Blazers have a new court design, which will be emblazoned with the team's season-ticket holders' names.
• The Warriors, never too shy to experiment with new ideas, have yet another sleeved alternate uniform, and this one is black. OK, it's a very, very dark gray, but come on -- it's basically black. Further info here. Meanwhile, in one of the season's more subtle maneuvers, the Warriors have also changed the waistband logo on their shorts. Finally, expect Golden State to unveil yet another sleeved alternate jersey, possibly with Chinese lettering, in the near future.
• Technically speaking, every single game this season will have new uniforms, because the refs have a new uni design.
• This year's Christmas Day uniforms have very solid-looking chest designs and no sleeves -- a big improvement over the ones from the past two seasons. They couldn't resist one gimmick, though: The players' first names will be on the back, instead of their last names.
• No word yet on the exact dates for this season's Hispanic jerseys, but the big surprise is that they won't have sleeves. Look for them to be worn sometime around the start of March.
• The uniforms for this season's All-Star Game, which will be held on Feb. 15 at Madison Square Garden in New York (with preliminary events taking place the day before at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn), haven't yet been revealed, but the event has a logo based on the theme of New York City mass transit. Also, a Uni Watch source indicates that the All-Star warm-up outfits will have hoods, with sort of a boxing robe look -- apparently a riff on Madison Square Garden's reputation as "the Mecca of Boxing."
• We already covered the new court designs in the team-by-team breakdown. But if you're a serious hardwood geek, you'll enjoy this Grantland ranking of all 30 NBA floor layouts.
• And for the cherry on top, there's a small change for the NBA game ball, which now includes the league's Twitter handle.
That's it. Did we miss anything? If so, you know what to do.
Paul Lukas remains steadfastly opposed to the use of advertising patches on NBA uniforms. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.