The welcome news that Portland is looking to update their unis soon was also met with some serious reservations from fans about moving too far away from the classics we know and love. Fortunately, the chatter from the business end of the Blazers' HQ seems to be made to settle those fears.
"What we do know from the research we've already done, is that we have a pretty good thing going here and the fans don’t want to see a drastic departure from the current look." -Dewayne Hankins, Trail Blazers Vice President of Marketing and Digital (via Forwardcenter.net)
That should be reassuring enough to sleep easy knowing cartoonish, obnoxious and otherwise radical redesigns are unlikely. Still, there are ways of doing new things with the uniforms that don't abandon the traditional look and feel the team has had these last 43 years on the court.
Since it's known that the folks in the Front Office read Blazersedge (hi guys!) I figured I'd throw out my two cents because a.) I'm a life-long fan-- both of the team and it's aesthetic; and b.) I'm a huge design nerd. Consider this my contribution to the process that Hankins guaranteed we'd all be a part of.
I'll start with the things most of us agree on. First, the current typeface the Blazers employ on the jerseys and court, etc. has got to be among the worst in the league. I know it was meant to convey speed and aggression and all but it doesn't seem that it ever really fit the personality of the franchise or the city. A lot of people (myself included) would like to see a return to the old-school, lower-case, angular-stylized, Bauhaus-esque typeface from the original team logo. It's uniquely Portland and recognizable by basketball fans around the league (I even recently used it for the new bass drum head for my band, pardon this bit of self-promotion.) I think the "rip city" jerseys proved the worth of such a slick font-choice.
Next-- DON'T TOUCH OUR STRIPES! The two diagonal stripes are what make our kits the best in the league. It's easy to look at them and instantly think of 'em gliding gracefully to the hoop. In fact, I always thought it would be awesome if the the Blazers sold black t-shirts that had nothing on them but the red and white stripes. That's all you need to see to get the point. The tiny little silver sliver added in the last update is okay but I'd caution against too much silver-creep. It shouldn't be another team color but rather just an accent. I thought the over use of silver was the only downside of the new uniforms they put out last year.
Now the pinwheel is a sticky issue and might not have as much consensus. I mean, don't get me wrong-- we all love it, it's brilliant! A visual representation of a five-on-five basketball game with nothing more than ten curves and two colors. It's got to be one of the most high-concept pro-sports logos ever! But since 2002 the ends of the wheel were tapered to appear sharper maybe? I think a lot of folks are cool with that but personally I'd rather see it un-tapered. The orientation of the pinwheel is also a matter that many have strong feelings about and some times it seems that it runs along the age-divide: older fans like it vertical, younger fans like it tilted like it currently sits. Personally, since my Blazers fandom started around the end of the 'vertical' pinwheel and the beginning of the 'tilted' era, I can swing both ways. That's why I think the team should too! Just make it interchangeable! Some things just look better with the upright logo, some look better with the slanted and enchanted logo. At the end of the day they're the same logo. (Oh but let's get rid of that parallelogram, okay? We look like last year's Suns.)
One person in the comments around here made a point that I strongly agree with: It's a cool tradition for the 'home' jerseys to have the team-nickname and the 'away' jerseys to feature the home-town name. We're living in a cool time when Portland is synonymous with 'hip'. Besides, it's one more thing to make Brooklynites jealous.
So here's one new idea that isn't all that 'new'. We've never had a uniform with the ACTUAL team-name on it! Going all the way back to 1970, every shirt's said 'Blazers'. Let's, for the first time, have a jersey that says "Trail Blazers"! It would be a radical-not-so-radical change that everyone around the league would notice-but-not-really-notice, know what I mean?
Anyway, those are my ideas and here is a crude mock-up of the direction I'd like to see the franchise go:
for a larger version click here
I couldn't decide at first if I let them better with the name on the front in a straight line or with a sliiiiiiiiiight curve but after seeing them both together, I think I like the curve. I've included them both for you to see. Anyway, let me know what you think and if there are any other design geeks out there that wanna try, show me your fantasy jerseys!
Hopefully all the time I've wasted on this post will translate into good karma and a win tonight against the Bulls to make it NINE STRAIGHT! Go Blazers!
(Oh, and if Paul Allen, Chris McGowan, and/or Hankins is reading this and just wants to go with these, I'll accept court-side seats as payment!)