Good morning Uni Watch commUNIty. Paul is doing some traveling. I’m Todd Krevanchi and I’m taking care of today’s entry.
When the FIBA World Championships and Olympic Games come around every few years, it not only gives us a chance to see how our boys can mess up bringing home a gold medal, but also allows us to see how our apparel manufacturers can mess up the uniforms.
One of the earliest demonstrations of logo creep on the international stage occurred at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Apparel manufacturer Descente was given the contract to outfit the men’s basketball team. Three uniforms were issued, in red, white, and blue. The uniforms were quite classy. Vertically arched chest lettering, no last names on the back and a simple USA on the sides of the shorts, but the Descente logo was on the upper-right shoulder of the jersey and the left leg of the shorts. And since Converse was the exclusive Olympic footwear provider, they found it appropriate to throw their logo beneath the waistband on the shorts.
In 1988, at the Seoul Games, the Red Army beat the U.S. and the red uniform was dropped. Descente was once again called in to outfit the squad, and they used the same template from the â€™84 games, except that last names were added to the jerseys. The white and blue uniforms still featured Descente-driven logo creep, but this time the Converse logo was gone.
1992: The Dream Team. This time Champion outfitted the men’s hoopsters. This Olympiad featured a new USA Basketball Logo (still in use today), which functioned as the main jersey insignia and also appeared on the sides of the shorts. Once again, white and blue uniforms were used, with red still on the hanger. Champion displayed its corporate logo this time on the left shoulder and by the left waistband of the shorts.
Then came 1996 and the Atlanta Games. They must have held a contest for area middle school students to design these, which were cluttered with stars, script lettering, and new typography. The white and blue uniforms now had a waistband star and fields of stars down both sides, as well as the USA basketball logo on both the jersey and shorts. And Champion added their mark as well.
The 1998 World Championships were held in Greece, and Champion held tight with the same design. But there was a redesign for the 2000 Sydney Games, beginning with sleeveless tees. In addition to the stripes that Y out to a single star on either side of the shorts, you have the USA Basketball logo on the waist. On the jersey, another USA Basketball logo, a new neck mark, and, of course, the oversized Champion logo. And let’s not forget the USA Basketball star on the back. Again, only white and blue.
In 2002, the World Championships were held in Indianapolis. This was the start of Reebok‘s relationship with USA Basketball, and the uniforms took on more of an asymmetrical approach. The stars returned to the shorts and jerseys on the right, but not on the left. The neckline was now a solid color. And the team got smoked.
In Greece in 2004, the trio of unis returned — red, white, and blue. Reebok still had the contract and made significant adjustments, including horizontal stripes down the sides, a collar-style neckline along with the neck star, and curved piping. The back star also returned to the mix. But one thing didn’t change: The team got smoked — again!
That brings us to this year’s World Championships in Japan. Nike now has the USA Basketball contract, and they’re made some interesting adjustments to the uniform. Red has apparently been dropped once again, since it hasn’t been used in any preliminary games. The white and blue uniforms show quite a bit of piping, wedges of red, white, or blue, and the piping connecting the arm- and neckholes that Nike has used in their college uniforms. Meanwhile, the back of these uniforms looks like something out of Nike’s college football template. I guess I still don’t understand the wraparound feature. These uniforms have come upon some serious scrutiny over the last month based on their design. In architecture, the mantra “form follows function” has lived for over a century. However in Nike’s case, with these uniforms, they missed the boat on both form and function.
I’m interested to see what the Beijing Games bring us…