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The 30 Best NBA Jerseys, According to Our Resident NBA Expert

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Focus on Sport via Getty Images / ROBERT SULLIVAN/AFP via Getty Images / Vince Bucci/AFP via Getty Images

The NBA has always been known for its flair on and off the court. Electrifying superstars like Michael Jordan have made the association a powerhouse for entertainment. You can’t help but remember some of the most magical moments in the NBA. With those standout moments come the uniforms. 

 

There has been a multitude of different jerseys and uniforms that have come to pass in the NBA, but there can only be a few that really have popped and had a significant impact in NBA history. Like the adage goes in sports, “you look good, you play well.” From the simple but effective looks of the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers to the madness that was the Toronto Raptors, here are my 30 best NBA jerseys of all time.

1. Los Angeles Lakers Home, 1999-Present

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Though they’ve made minor updates, the Lakers have kept the same color scheme for over 50 years. The only team to not wear white uniforms as their regular home uniform, the Lakers always had an aesthetically different vibe from every other team in the league. With the team’s historic winning background and stars like Kobe Bryant, Jerry West, Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal rocking the gold and purple home jersey, this deserves its rightful place as the best NBA jersey.

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2. Boston Celtics Icon Edition, 2017-Present

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Besides a few modest changes through the years, the Boston Celtics have largely kept their jersey designs simple. They have the most unostentatious uniform design and I don’t think it will ever change. It’s also a jersey that culturally is significant. Remember Do The Right Thing? Still, I’ll keep in my mind that those gray sleeved Celtics alternates never happened.

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3. Denver Nuggets Away, 1985-1993

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Placing the idea of a blue jersey with a rainbow skyline seems like a mistake, but it became an all-timer for the Denver Nuggets in the 1980s. Donned during the days of Alex English, coach Doug Moe and uptempo basketball, the away jersey is eye-popping. The franchise has tried to recreate the magic from this idea several times and recently brought back the rainbow with their city edition uniforms.

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4. San Francisco Warriors Home, 1966-1971

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Originally debuted during the 1966-67 season, the San Francisco Warriors’ “The City” uniforms are one of the best designs. A Warriors home staple when Rick Barry and Nate Thurmond were dominating on the court, the back of the uniform features the jersey number inside of a cable car. It adds the perfect San Francisco touch. I wouldn’t mind if the Warriors added these as a permanent retro that they play in every season.

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5. Chicago Bulls Alternate, 1995-1997

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Worn near the end of the Jordan era in Chicago, this alternate jersey is a classic. In a time where every team was headed towards garish and cartoon-themed ideas, the Bulls kept it simple and business-like with a black uniform with vertical red pinstripes. This iteration lasted just two years before the Bulls went to a black alternate without pinstripes.

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6. Miami Heat City Edition, 2017-Present

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One of the modern dandies of our era. The Heat have managed to wear a version of these Miami Vice themed jerseys the past three years in Turquoise, Pink, White, and Black. Miami needs to change its current array of colors and make these Vice uniforms permanent. Do that, and they automatically have the best uniforms in the association.

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7. Orlando Magic Away, 1994-1998

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The Orlando Magic’s most celebrated run in franchise history occurred during the mid-’90s. Used during the days of Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway, the Magic blue pinstripe jersey was extremely popular, but the only question at the time was whether you were wearing Penny or Shaq’s number. As a kid, I was rocking the Shaq jersey.

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8. Phoenix Suns Alternate, 1992-2000

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Worn during the time that the Phoenix Suns had MVP Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson, and a guy named Thunder, Phoenix was dominating the NBA in style. The black alternates must’ve been lucky. Phoenix made the playoffs every season that they wore these jerseys from their Finals appearance in the 1992-93 season up until 2000. Something about a bursting sun across a black background is ideal.

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9. Seattle Supersonics Away, 1985-1995

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I miss the Seattle Supersonics. It’s not just for the great play of Hall of Famers Gary Payton and Ray Allen. It’s also for the great designs and colors. A vibrant franchise, Seattle’s use of green and gold was always distinctive compared to the rest of the league. Looking at these jerseys makes me automatically think of Payton to Shawn Kemp lobs on automatic. Can the NBA please bring the Sonics back now?

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10. Chicago Bulls Away, 1973-1985

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I instantly think of Michael Jordan rocking the gold chain in the 1985 slam dunk contest. The Chicago lettering inscribed at the center of the uniform in fancy script font is equally dated but unique and representative of the 1980s. Though Jordan didn’t wear the uniform for that long, it will always be remembered as where the birth of the NBA as a powerhouse began.

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11. Minnesota Timberwolves Alternate, 1998-2008

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Worn during the peak-Kevin Garnett years of the Minnesota Timberwolves, this alternate uniform was a unique idea. Minnesota hasn’t had many great jersey’s so the bar is pretty low. Still, the jersey just had a perfect color scheme to add some style to a franchise lacking flair for most of its existence. The black jersey built with green trim in the design of trees is one of the best looks in NBA history—don’t at me.

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12. Golden State Warriors Away, 2010-Present

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The mid-2010 Golden State Warriors were a dynasty. Led by a great nucleus of players that included MVPs Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, the Warriors have had one of the best jerseys of the past decade. With the three championships in five seasons, the uniform—that features blue and gold colors with the Golden Gate bridge—will be remembered forever. Getting away from the “lightning bolt” era was one of the smartest moves in franchise history.

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13. Indiana Pacers Away, 1990-1997

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Inspired by gold medalist sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner, the Flo Jo design for the Indiana Pacers is a legendary NBA outfit. It was the Flo Jos where Indiana became a household NBA team with Reggie Miller hitting clutch shots and game-winners on a regular basis. Indiana must love it because they keep bringing the jersey back either as a retro iteration or with an updated twist or combination with another theme.

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14. Charlotte Hornets Away, 1989-1996

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The Hornets craze in the late-1980s brings back nostalgic memories. As a kid, I remember the buzz the team’s road jerseys had back in the day. With stars like Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning and Muggsy Bogues, the Hornets rose to fame with a teal road uniform that featured different colored vertical stripes.

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15. Milwaukee Bucks Away, 2015-Present

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The Bucks’ primary has changed a lot over the past 30 years. There was the purple era with Ray Allen and Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson. The red era that featured Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut was not a very color-savvy time. The Bucks finally found their look in 2015 when the franchise went through a complete rebranding. Adding cream to a forest-green was genius. And now with the team winning games at a high clip, it will be remembered for some time.

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16. Washington Bullets Away, 1974-1987

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Featuring stars and horizontal stripes, the Washington Bullets had one of the best uniforms and designs of the 1970s. Led by Wes Unseld during that time, the Bullets had their most success, winning a championship and making the postseason 11 times in these jerseys. That jump ball logo is also a perfect topper to a colorful jersey.

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17. Dallas Mavericks Away, 1981-1992

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Back in the days of the wild, wild, west of the NBA, the Dallas Mavericks had a talented young team. With Mark Aguirre, Rolando Blackman and Derek Harper, the team was fitted in a green road jersey. This design makes me feel like I’m in a great western movie with the small script lettering at the center of this uniform.

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18. Atlanta Hawks Away, 1982-1992

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Synonymous with highflyer Dominique Wilkins as well as 5’8” dunk contest champion Spud Webb, the Pac Man Hawks jersey is very memorable. The logo might be the best of all-time in NBA history. The uniform is the icing on the cake with a horizontal line at the top as well as the Pac Man logo on the shorts.

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19. Los Angeles Lakers Away, 1960-1966

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A forgotten hue in Los Angeles, the blue jersey was used by the Lakers after they moved from Minneapolis in 1960. Built with a dark blue color and white and blue piping along the neck and shoulders, the jersey had a script lettering of “Los Angeles.” The team, led by Elgin Baylor and Jerry West used these for six years before shifting to the gold and purple look that the team has kept to this day.

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20. New Jersey Nets Away, 1977-1990

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Honestly, I might have to think about buying the ABA version of the Julius Erving New York Nets uniform. It’s nearly the same as the Nets’ jersey when they first moved to the NBA and New Jersey. The red, white and blue color palette is a solid one and side vertical stripes stood out in the 1970s.

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21. Utah Jazz Away, 1984-1996

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Though the music note has long made no sense in the state of Utah—the Jazz played in New Orleans, hence the name Jazz—they’ve always gotten the uniform design down to a tee. It’s simple but effective. The purple jersey with the logo in a yellowish gold always made for a nice look.

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22. Toronto Raptors Away, 1995-1999

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There was a day where NBA logos and mascots were out of the box. One standout in the ‘90s was the Toronto Raptors’ inaugural jersey. When the franchise debuted in 1995, they used a purple and red color combination. On top of that, the team had vertical stripes and a red dinosaur as the team’s mascot and logo. It would be wild to see a team use this idea now, but it still makes for the quintessential throwback.

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23. Utah Jazz City Edition, 2017-Present

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Inspired by the redrocks of southern Utah, the Jazz’ city uniform features 13 gradients of color. It’s completely different from the team’s classic music note-related look that has been used and abused for years. Though the design can be a little bit too bright and colorful, it’s perfect to me. For me, the design is such a good change of pace for a franchise that has been built on consistency and tradition.

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24. Orlando Magic Away, 1999-2003

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Emblazoned with stars, this Orlando Magic jersey stood out because of one player. Tracy McGrady was dominant in his time with the Magic, winning two consecutive scoring championships and dragging a Magic team without Grant Hill. I hate to sound like an Instagram basketball highlight reel caption, but Prime T-Mac was a problem.

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25. Sacramento Kings Away, 1985-1990

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When the Kings moved from Kansas City to Sacramento in 1985, the team came in with some flair, adding baby blue as their primary color. Put on during the days of Reggie Theus and Otis Thorpe, you don’t see a lot of baby blue in the NBA today, besides when the Kings bring the uniform back for retro night.

26. Buffalo Braves Home, 1971-1973

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With a team that featured former MVP Bob McAdoo, the Buffalo Braves can be forgotten sometimes in NBA history. The orange road uniform was a little too colorful, but the home whites feature the perfect mesh of white, orange and black. The Clippers brought these retros back this season, and they still are a keeper.

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27. Milwaukee Bucks Alternate, 1995-1999

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A green alternative for the Milwaukee Bucks in the late-’90s, this jersey is one of the more interesting alternate uniforms of all-time. Though the purple and green era of the Milwaukee Bucks was not very aesthetically pleasing, one victory that came out of that period is this uniform. Who doesn’t want a green uniform with a big purple deer dab smack in the middle?

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28. Vancouver Grizzlies Away, 1995-2000

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It’s hard to remember, but NBA basketball was played in Vancouver at one point in time. With players like Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Bryant “Big Country” Reeves, the expansion Vancouver Grizzlies didn’t win many games, but they lost in style. A jersey that featured a bear armed with a ball in claw deserves to be on this list. The jersey made a comeback with the Memphis Grizzlies bringing back the retros in honor of the team’s 25-year anniversary.

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29. New York Knicks Away, 2012-Present

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If this was a contest about the highest win percentage uniforms, this modern design of the New York Knicks would be a loser. New York started rocking these uniforms back in 2012. In the first year, the Knicks won 54 games and made the playoffs (shout out to Steve Novak and Pablo Prigioni). Since that year, the Knicks have yet to make the playoffs or win more than 37 games in a season. Now the orange alternate version of this jersey? You can burn those.

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30. Houston Rockets Away, 1995-2003

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During the 1990s, every team wanted to add some kind of cartoonish mascot. The Houston Rockets had one of the most interesting designs. Featuring an unpleasant Rocket circling a basketball in the center and vertical stripes, these navy blue road duds scream the ‘90s. I’m surprised the Rockets haven’t brought it back as a retro uniform in any of their recent seasons.

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