The NBA has released its new list of City Edition jerseys, the ones the teams will wear for the 2022-23 season. These uniforms, from jerseys to shorts, usually bear some sort of thematic connection to the franchise’s hometown.
Athleticism spoke to Jesse Alvarez, Nike Men’s Basketball Product Manager, to get a sense of how some of the most notable City Edition jerseys were designed and what details fans should look for when viewing their teams play.
I want to start with Spurs Jersey. Can you walk me through the design and inspiration for this?
Spurs, I think, as a lot of people remember, have one of the most iconic uniforms of the All Star Game that we did, just in the world of jersey culture. So you can see some pretty clear nods to that in terms of color and mood. That was really the goal for that one, to be able to tie that together. You asked about some details: I think the “SA” belt loop and Spur logos on the belt hook were just like a really nice way to round it out and add a subtle detail to show off the uniform All Star they are synonymous with.
So I recognize the coloring for that when I look at these jerseys. The Pistons these are green, a color I don’t usually associate with the colors of the Pistons. What happened there?
Detroit has an incredible history. One of the things about this story is Saint Cecilia. So Sainte-Cécile is really a place where players would go running and playing basketball. And so this color, green, is inspired by the current Saint Cecilia. That, coupled with the iconic details of the short patch, you’ll actually see as a stained glass window or a take inspired by the stained glass window that appears in St. Cecilia, with a 313 logo in the center of it just as a way to weave these stories together. Saint Cecilia’s mantra was “Where stars are made, not born”. So it really brings this story together to bring it to life.
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Did you send people over there to look through the gym and just walk through it?
Yeah, so we actually partner with the team, and so the team was there. They send us pictures, you name it. Anything we needed, we had to be able to bring to life. Like with any uniform, really, it starts with the team. They are the ones who know their fan bases the best. And so that’s where all these inspiration points come from.
For you, do you have a favorite jersey?
You know, it’s funny, I was just telling someone it’s hard to have a favorite. Above all, they all feel like your children. But I think, right behind you, Chicago. I really like Chicago. I think the Municipal Y manifests itself in many different ways. And the symbology behind it, like uniting a city and how the Bulls in the center of the Y on the side profile. I think it’s a great representation of how a team is at the heart of a city. So Chicago is where I live.
I liked the color pattern on the timber wolves one, but obviously it’s not something that’s associated with wolves. What is it about? What makes it unique?
One of the unique things about City Edition (jerseys) in general, before you answer your question, is that with every story of an organization, they can take it where they want to go. Thus, Minnesota is known as a creative hotspot for artists of all kinds. This (jersey) is a nod to part of the creative community. So one of the things that makes this uniform unique is that the pattern you see in the uniform is actually cut in a different way for each uniform. So each uniform is unique, sort of like a way each creation is unique in its own way. That’s really how this story comes to life.
So you have a big pattern of all these colors. Each swatch is different for each uniform?
Think of it more in terms of when you think about how a uniform was made, every piece is cut, so no two pieces are the same. So when they sew these things together, each uniform is going to be slightly different, just like a fingerprint.
I know that sometimes you collaborate not only with teams but also with certain people on the creation of the jerseys. Is there anyone notable here who helps you in the creation, in the ideation of certain jerseys?
Yeah, Detroit is a good example. Big Sean is the creative director of the Pistons, so he was someone who helped bring this to life. Right behind you is KITH with the New York Knicks. These two teams are in the lead. Just kind of highlighting some of the names that are also working with organizations to bring their City Edition uniforms to life.
I was watching the Hornets. He’s the most rabid hornet I’ve ever seen in my life.
It is an aggressive hornet. Really cool story, I think, centered around the Mint. So one of the cool things – I don’t know if you’ve had a look at it – but the stripes are actually a nod to the Mint. The Mint is, you know, the inspiration for this uniform. The gold lettering with the mint trim recalls the financial inspiration with the Mint being in Charlotte.
And last, I heard you talk about the Heat jersey. Can you walk me through that one, especially the rope on the side. Seems like a really cool detail.
So if you’ve ever lit a game for the Heat, you’ll see that there’s a real yellow rope that wraps around the cord. They use the yellow piping so they can take inspiration from that yellow rope you’ll see during gameplay. Their concept is sort of chapter two of their mashup that they introduced last year.
This year they switched to the color white and then they took different components from the previous iconic elements of their identity and mixed them together so they could have that custom look. Thus, you will see elements of their Floridianstheir White hot, vice versa. All of these different types of time stamps that made up the Heat organization, all blended into one uniform.
(All photos courtesy of the NBA)