The Portland Trail Blazers have long been feted, especially by their fans, for having the best uniforms in the NBA. For the first 46 years of the franchise, they changed at a glacial pace. Jerseys from the 1970’s and 1980’s were clearly identifiable, distinct from those of the 1990’s and 2000’s. You could tell what era a uniform came from with a glance.
Modern marketing has changed the landscape over the past 4-5 years. Each NBA franchise now sports multiple uniforms, several distinct to each season. Cycling through so quickly, changes in pattern and color are inevitable.
Is that a good thing for Portland? Are the 2021 Trail Blazers jerseys still among the best in the NBA? Dave Deckard and Dia Miller are tossing around the topic today.
Dave: I’m going to let you have the first crack at this. I have such feelings about this year’s uniforms but I want to hear what you think of them as a whole first.
Dia: Ooooohhhhh basketball AND fashion. This is right up my ally. There have been so many mixed reactions to the jerseys this year, so this is a really interesting conversation. I’ll be honest, as a whole, I love them. I like that there’s classic, identifiable Trail Blazers, there’s meaning and history and significance, there’s sleek and cool, and there’s so much variety.
Dave: Uh oh. I’m no fashionista, but I’m in the opposite camp. I find these versions of the tradition uniforms a bit pedestrian, and the new interpretations ranging from uninspired to just...yuck. I try not to be a stick in the mud about these things, but there’s a lot of mud to be sticking in!
First, which of this year’s uniforms is your favorite and why?
Dia: I think I’d have to go with the Icon edition. It’s classic Blazers. It’s beautiful. I love the black and honestly you just can’t go wrong. It looks good on the floor, it looks good with the other teams and it just screams Portland Trail Blazers. I’m assuming from your reaction that this might also be your favorite?
Dave: I like the Association. I prefer the red and black stripe to the red and white, and that’s what they have on the home whites. But I agree with you that Icon is one of the best. But look already we’ve picked the most traditional looking jerseys. That MAY mean we’re old. We already know from the podcast you go to the 4:30 early dinner with a two-for-one coupon, but I thought I was more hip than that. But no, evidently not. Because I think other than the Association and Icon, all the rest of the uniforms are basically [insert semi-profane synonym for donkey here]. For years I’ve defended Portland as having among the best, if not THE best, jerseys in the league. But UGH. What happened???
Which is your least favorite of this year’s uniforms? I’ll get mine in after you.
Dia: Are we old? Or are we resourceful bargain hunters who like two for one deals?
I think the branding and the uniforms are one of the things Portland does best. I’d argue that still this year that's true. I know a few of these are a departure from traditional, but that’s true of every team in the league. It just seems to be the thing that’s being done right now. I’d argue that with that in mind, Portland is still on top of the jersey game.
As for my least favorite, that’s really tough. I genuinely like them all. Maybe the statement jersey? But I have one of those on it’s way to me as we speak, so even still, I love it! If I had to take a guess as to your least favorite, I’m going with City Edition. Is that right?
Dave: Let me preface this by saying I believe strongly that indigenous peoples should be represented, honored, and that we need to do a lot of listening and soul-searching about the history of this country and the people who first lived here. I explicitly want to honor those voices and the injustices that have been done to them.
I’m not sure this is how I would have done it. I still don’t like the jersey as a jersey, even though I support the message.
I mean, I look at the Timberwolves’ Prince jerseys from a couple of years ago. Those were cool. Minnesota hasn’t done anything as a franchise except screw up every opportunity they’ve ever gotten. And yet they come up with one of the best jerseys the league has ever seen? Or Miami’s dual pastel uniforms this year. It’s different, but in a neat way.
Those City edition jerseys are approximately the color of old overalls that you now use for gardening. They look pretty bad on TV. They don’t mesh with anybody else’s colors either, so it always looks like the Blazers are some exhibition squad facing a real NBA team.
Give me purple uniforms. Or teal. Honestly, the brown isn’t even bad enough to hate. It has all the impact of somebody dropping a pancake on the floor. Just my opinion, though. Respect to those who love them.
How about the colorless Earned edition? What do you think of the throwback to the days of black and white TV?
Dia: I genuinely love the City Edition jerseys (I have one of those on the way to me too!). I think all of the symbolism is beautiful and I love how they pulled it all together. At first glance I was confused but it’s hard to hate something with such intricate symbolism.
The Earned edition jerseys are probably my second favorite this season (I might have to buy one of these too! How many jerseys is too many?). I think they look sleek and really cool. Also as a fan who doesn’t really love to wear red, I love the versatility of these jerseys for my own wear. We also need to talk about the fact that the shoes the players choose to wear with these absolutely pop, and they haven’t disappointed with their selection!
Dave: I want to see the Earned edition on the Brooklyn Nets court. That would be sweet. I agree about the shoes too. I don’t dislike the grayscale motif. It’s just “meh” most nights.
I like the Earned better than the Statement edition with those weird stripes though.
Dia: I love wearing jerseys, and I’m kind of at the point where it’s like, how many of the same few jerseys can I have of different players? So I love the variety. Could it be done differently? Of course, we have had some really cool ones in the past. But That’s the fun thing about this—next year we will see even more! These are only here for a year, so I love that we get to go outside the box and try new things that aren’t necessarily part of the typical branding.
Dave: They still need to look awesome, though. I guess not everything can be a hit. Or different people have different tastes.
I’ve already named a couple of my favorite uniforms from recent years around the NBA. Do you have any non-Portland favorites?
Dia: Yes! I absolutely love the Miami Heat Vice jerseys that are black with the blue and pink detailing. Those are beautiful. I’m a big fan of the Raptors branding (I mean, dinosaurs are basically the best thing since unicorns), and I’m a big fan of the Grizzlies old school jerseys. I keep thinking I need to find ex Blazers on those teams so I can wear the jerseys!
What about you, dear readers? You’ve heard our opinions. Now that you’ve seen all of them in action, do you like Portland’s uniforms this year? Do you envy the updates that any other teams have gotten? Share in the comment section below!