After my original post on the topic of uniforms aesthetics, something occurred to me – I hadn’t paid nearly enough attention to the uniforms of days gone by. So I decided to do some research, and discovered untold treasure (and untold horror). I’ve decided to share the best (and the worst) with you right now, complete with many visual aids.
I weep at your graves
The Seattle Supersonics made some poor aesthetic choices between 1995 and 2001, but that aside, they had some of the best uniforms in the history of the NBA. This choice is about more than just my love for the green and gold color scheme. I lament the death of the NBA in Seattle. At the same time, I’m happy the Sacramento Kings aren’t moving there, because replacing the team ripped from you with a team ripped from another city seems dirty somehow.
Part of this choice has to do with my affinity for the Shawn Kemp – Gary Payton – Hersey Hawkins – Sam Perkins – Detlef Schrempf Sonics teams of the late 1990s. They were fun to watch, but legendary underachievers – they won 55+ regular season games 6 years in a row, were famously ousted in the ’94 playoffs by the 8th seeded Denver Nuggets, and made just one Finals appearance. They remind me of the early 90s Buffalo Bills or the Philadelphia Eagles from 2001-present, or even another team that’s dear to me… the 2000s-era Minnesota Twins.
Minnesota North Stars
Speaking of the green and gold color scheme, Minnesota and losing… wasn’t it a shame when the North Stars left the self-proclaimed State of Hockey? I’m too young to remember anything about them leaving… But I’m pretty sure the good people of Minnesota under-reacted to the news, because as far as I know, there were no riots or car-bombings or ritualistic atonement killings of Texans.
The North Stars played in Minnesota from 1968 until 1993, making one Stanley Cup Finals appearance (1991). That season, they finished as the seventh seed in the West and made a miracle run to the Finals despite losing 12 more games than they won during the regular season. It wasn’t enough to save the franchise, and they moved to Dallas two seasons later. Naturally, they changed the uniforms once they got to Texas, and naturally, the NHL hasn’t allowed the new franchise in Minnesota (the Wild) to wear North Stars throwback uniforms, which is a shame.
I’ll make this short and sweet – the logo confused me for far longer than it should have. I always saw it as an e-l-b, and never could figure out what the heck it meant. I figured it had something to do with French, since Montreal was a French-speaking province. I was a strange kid.The uniforms were terrific – even though the Expos fell into the same trap that most baseball teams did in the 80s:
cocaine baby blue uniforms. The royal blue, matched with the pinstripes and the logo that makes a lot of sense once you stop being an idiot (it’s a giant ‘M’ with an ‘e’ and a ‘b’, signifying Montreal Expos Baseball).
Remember the complaining I did in the previous paragraph about baby blue uniforms? Well, I take it back. The Houston Oilers duds were fantastic – something as simple as a silhouette of an oil rig looked cool. When the franchise packed its things and moved to Nashville in 1997, they kept the Oilers nickname for two years – only because it was so cool – and then kept the baby-blue inspired color scheme when they switched their nickname to the Tennessee Titans.
I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the old Houston Oilers jerseys, although the most prominent memory I have of them is blowing a 28 point lead in a playoff game.
You’re dead for a reason
Basketball in the beautiful city of Vancouver, British Columbia was a pretty misguided adventure, considering the (relatively) remote location (Steve Francis refused to play there because it was too far away from anything) and the crappy arena they played in, which forced them to move to Memphis after the 2000-01 season. The mistake was compounded by the fact that they sent their home squad onto the court wearing this:
And the court looked like this:
They earned their death. It’s like they committed murder, filmed it, and then sent the videotape and murder weapon via first class mail to the police station.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Now I begin to veer from dead franchises to ones that killed their original looks. I start with the Devil Rays. I have few words for this one.
On second thought, I do have some words – the lettering is what drives me nuts. The mustache on Wade Boggs also drives me insane, but I can’t really avert my eyes from the lettering on the front of the jersey. The Devil Rays, incorporated in 1998, have undergone many uniform changes, and a name change (they dropped the ‘Devil’ in 2008) and now feature the dullest uniforms in baseball rather than the most acid-trippy. It’s been a wild 14 years for them.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
What’s with the city of Tampa, Florida? There’s no way to overlook the aesthetic abominations their hometown gridiron gang wore the first 21 seasons of their existence. Oddly enough, some people rather enjoy the ‘throwback’ rejuvenation of these uniforms – but more on that later. Even if a piece of you likes to take a stroll down memory lane, to a time before high-definition, when it didn’t matter what the tiny football players on the screen were wearing – how can you be okay with this?
What’s with the city of Vancouver, British Columbia? I have been to that fine city. It is beautiful. But for a long time, their hometown hockey team wore this:
You’re telling me Vancouverans (Vancouverii? Vancouvs?) are willing to riot over the team losing in the Stanley Cup Finals, but that they never rioted over the team being paraded about in what appears to be the garb college professors wear during commencement ceremonies? Where’s the city’s sense of dignity?
Dr. Frankenstein Re-animated You, but I Didn’t Sign Off On That: Throwbacks That Should Have Been Left in the Grave
Some teams have started the tradition of honoring obscure teams from long ago by wearing their throwbacks in games. It’s sort of amusing, because there are probably fifty living people in their given city who can remember the old team in the first place – so why expend all the time and energy to recreating the uniforms?
Why not take some liberties with them, to make them at least somewhat palatable? Who would raise a fuss?
Memphis honored the 1972-74 Memphis Tams (yeah, I didn’t know what the hell that was either – it’s an acronym for Tennessee-Arkansas-Mississippi) by wearing their uniforms for a few games this season. The mismatched tops-shorts combination was atrocious, made worse by the fact that the mismatch, according to this picture, may not have even been historically accurate!
The Canadiens wore these jerseys to honor the 1912-13 team. I’m not sure anything I could write would do them justice, so I’ll just show you the picture and move along.
Despite the fact that the black-and-gold color scheme is how all of Pittsburgh’s professional teams roll, and despite the fact that the Steelers and Penguins really pull it off, the Pirates have sucked at it for most of their history. And I had to check far back in the record books to make sure that the team itself hasn’t sucked, period, for ALL of its history.
In my original Project Runway column (found here: https://breakthehuddle.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/project-runway-sports-edition/) I excoriated a few teams for being ‘Attention Whores’ and placed them at the bottom of the athletics aesthetics pyramid. The Philadelphia Eagles, a few years ago, committed the single worst violation of this principle I have ever found, and it was in a throwback variety.
The Eagles claimed these uniforms were to honor the 75th anniversary of the team’s founding. The colors are on the city of Philadelphia’s flag (who knew cities had individual flags?) and the design of the jerseys were to mimic the Frankfort Yellow Jackets (a franchise that went defunct in 1931).
So once again, a flag is the inspiration for the ugliest thing ever worn on a football field; in college, it was Maryland, in the NFL, it’s Philadelphia.
Questions? Concerns? Want to send some spam e-mail? Do so at BreakTheHuddle@gmail.com.
Filed under: MLB, NBA, NFL | Tagged: Houston Oilers, MHL, Minnesota North Stars, MLB, Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Expos, NBA, NBA Jam, NFL, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Supersonics, Tampa Bay, Uniforms, Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Grizzlies |