Fans tuning in to the NBA's Christmas Day games this winter may find themselves experiencing a sense of déjà vu.
That's because the NBA's 2016 Christmas Day uniforms are extremely similar to last year's Christmas designs. The 2016 Christmas set won't be officially unveiled until later this year, but the designs are shown in an Adidas catalog that was provided to ESPN.com by an industry source. The designs utilize the same template as the 2015 Christmas uniforms -- including the same chest scripts based on vintage holiday card typography, the same number font, and the same wax seal graphic on the rear collar -- but with a greater emphasis on team colors. This marks the first time Adidas has repeated a design concept for the NBA's Christmas attire, following four straight seasons of distinct designs.
2016-17 will be Adidas' final season outfitting the NBA, with Nike slated to take over the league's uniform contract in 2017-18. Adidas' lame duck status may explain why it's going with the same Christmas designs. It's unclear what Nike's plans are for the annual Christmas promotion.
The catalog shows the 2016 Christmas uniforms for 28 of the league's 30 teams. The exceptions are the Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz, who will have new uniform sets for 2016-17 and whose Christmas designs apparently weren't ready when the catalog was produced. (Utah's new home, road and alternate designs were released last month; Sacramento's will be unveiled later this summer.)
Information accompanying the catalog indicates that the NBA will once again have five games on Christmas Day, so only 10 of the new designs will make it onto the court, although some of the others may be made available for retail sale. The league typically doesn't release its schedule for an upcoming season until August, so it's not yet clear which 10 teams will be playing on Dec. 25. But it's standard practice for Adidas to create Christmas designs for every team, and to list those designs in catalogs sent to the company's retail accounts, because the retailers need to place their holiday merchandise orders months in advance, prior to the release of the NBA schedule.
Last year's Christmas uniforms were generally well received by fans (a departure from the previous three seasons' holiday designs, which were often ridiculed), so repeating the 2015 template may turn out to be a popular move. Several of the uniforms are particularly handsome, including the Golden State Warriors' design, which makes good use of blue, gold and orange. But New York Knicks fans may cringe when they see their team's design, which is bright orange -- a look that has not been kind to the team in the recent past.
The 2016 Christmas designs, broken down by division, can be seen below.
Paul Lukas will take a look back at the NBA's previous Christmas Day uniforms in his Friday Flashback column later this week. 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.