“If you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you play good.”

The Deion Sanders quote has transcended his opulence as an athletic icon and blended sports and fashion for decades. The uniforms, the shoes, the style, all of it are entirely correlated in every facet of the sports landscape as organizations carve out an identity with their branding. The Sanders quote, the Phil Knight Nike revolution, and, of course, the Jumpman logo are a major part of where we are today in the creativity and innovation that has come with the style.

We’ve flown too close to the Sun in the NBA with creative liberties. 

The “old man yelling at cloud” take is that the iconic franchises should stick with the jerseys they’ve been wearing since Bob Cousy was crossing over plumbers and firefighters in Boston Celtic white and kelly green short-shorts. That allows no creative freedom and innovation (and correcting mistakes along the way) that allows for new jerseys and merch to sell and fans to connect with. However, Nike took over the NBA apparel rights in 2017 and have released annual “City Edition” jerseys that implement connections to the local flavor of the franchise.

Creative innovation is fine, but not being able to recognize the team playing on the court from afar on a restaurant TV because they’re wearing an entirely different color scheme is where we should draw the line. The Chicago Bulls should wear red, black, and white, The Lakers should wear purple and gold. We must have order as a society. Times were much more simple when the boldest take in NBA uniform redesign was when we were angry about Adidas adding sleeves to the jerseys like soccer kits or when the NBA on Christmas Day would have some sort of festive font or sweater pattern on their traditional colors.

Does the Deion Sanders quote actually reign true for the code-breakers that decide all willy-nilly that they can just wear whatever color scheme they want because their city connects with it? Let’s take a look at the actual statistical records of the teams when they wear these rebellious alternates as a possible protest to go back to their roots. *

*(These are just the records of teams with unrecognizable color schemes in comparison to what our “dumb sports brain” knows; black alternates like Golden State or throwbacks like San Antonio have been omitted as they’re acceptable alternates)

Atlanta Hawks (Black and peach): 4-3

Cleveland Cavaliers (White, bronze, and carolina blue): 3-2

Detroit Pistons (Green, white and purple): 0-4

Los Angeles Clippers (Black and stained glass?): 3-6

Memphis Grizzlies (Black and chrome?): 6-3

Miami Heat (White and neon serial-killer-esque magazine letters): 9-4

Milwaukee Bucks (Blue):  3-3

Photo: Jason Vinlove / USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Timberwolves (White and color wheel stripe): 4-5

New Orleans Pelicans (Purple, yellow, and green): 0-2

Portland Trail Blazers (Black and teal): 3-5

Phoenix Suns (Teal): 3-7

Toronto Raptors (Black and gold): 1-3

Washington Wizards (Japanese cherry blossom pink): 3-8

Charlotte Hornets (Black, gold, and teal): 2-5

Total record: 44-60 (42.31 winning %)

The proof is in the numbers, Nike, you lawless heathen.

While some of the City Editions

without rules DO look good (Pelicans, please permanently rebrand to Mardi Gras colors), meaning they would feel good, thus playing good according to Deion, who’s to say that the Pistons could’ve gotten a few wins wearing colors of the actual Pistons as opposed to the Michigan State Spartan colors across town? Or if the Suns wore colors of the actual Sun? The Boston Celtics’ City Connects are merely a different shade of green and pay homage to Bill Russell, and they seem to be doing just fine at the top of the NBA standings all year long.

We want innovation until our naked eye in a sports bar has to do an unnecessary double-take.

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