The NBA Finally Has Some Good Alternate Jerseys

Nike’s Prince-inspired City uniforms are doing it for the culture

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Prince / Michael Ochs/Getty Images

Ever since Nike took over the NBA's apparel contract before the 2017 season, each team has had three official uniform sets: The "Association," the "Icon" and the "Statement." The "Icon" and "Association" are each team's home and away jersey, respectively. The "Statement" is the traditional third alternate, which usually brings a new color into play. In the middle of last season, Nike unveiled the "City" uniform concept, where each NBA team would get a uniform set that expressed their hometown's unique identity.

Initial results were mixed, depending on your feelings on snakeskin patterns and nicknames (Buzz City! ’Cos they're Hornets!) seemingly cobbled together after a marketing meeting–induced panic. So this season, the Nike and the NBA hoped to take things up a notch, letting the "City" concept breathe a little. It's beginning to pay off. Here's Minnesota's new number:

This is Minnesota's Prince-inspired "City" set. Not bad! I can absolutely get down with the ideology behind it, at the very least. The Nets also went in a pop cultural direction, introducing a "City" uniform influenced by Notorious B.I.G.'s predilection for Coogi sweaters.

Not bad either! Beats the bridge one

The NBA has improved in sensing the energies of their players—this year, they lifted a restriction on shoe color, which has led to some awesome stuff. While neither of these "City" jerseys are mind-blowing—the Nets one in particular feels a little undercooked, the Coogi is just the trim? Am I missing something?—they at least capture the imagination a little more than, say, a grayscale number with "OKC" printed on it, as if calling "Oklahoma City" "OKC" is some kind of jaunty slang. (Gray ’cos industry, I guess? I don't know.)

It also sets the bar a little higher, despite the fact that you could easily make the case that both jerseys flatten the dense histories of the artists referenced, boiling their contributions to their communities down to "look at these wacky colors!" But it's a start.

In conclusion: Philadelphia, now that he is officially a part of your city's political landscape, I await the unveiling of your Gritty-inspired colorway. 

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