Two weeks ago I linked to two images of the Buffalo Braves’ inaugural road uniform. That prompted reader Johnny Woods to send me this action shot. He said it was from a 1971 book called Basketball: The American Game, which I hadn’t heard of before. So I found a copy for one whole dollar on Amazon and ordered it.
As it turns out, it’s a really good book, at least as a photo resource. With basketball uniforms still so poorly documented (there’s no hoops equivalent to “Dressed to the Nines” or NHLuniforms.com), a book like this one can be full of surprises and revelations, along with the garden-variety “Hmmm, that’s interesting” eyebrow-raisers that photo books always provide. Here’s some of what caught my eye:
• One thing that really struck me was how many NBAers used to wear necklaces. Doesn’t that seem kinda crazy for as physical a sport as basketball?
• I always loved Wilt Chamberlain’s early-’70s headband. Thick in the front, just a string in the back — cool.
• Holy moly, look at that candy striping on the backboard support! Very reminiscent of old NFL goalposts, no?
• Lots to like in this old Celtics shot.
• Totally digging the Jayhawk logo on Phog Allen’s jacket.
• Oh man, how sweet would it be if Notre Dame went back to this design?
• Sleeved jersey alert! That’s New Mexico State, circa 1970.
• Always loved this classic photo of Jacksonville’s unique under-arched insignia.
• Hey, check out that uni number font — same one the White Sox used in the late ’70s! Not sure what team that is, unfortunately.
• Coupla noteworthy things here: First, note Oscar Robertson in the jaw guard at far left. Also, I hadn’t been aware that the Lakers had worn their team name on their shorts.
• Always fun to see the old Cincy Royals uni.
• Ouch! That’s Dave DeBusschere playing with a broken nose.
• Here’s a relatively rare sight: a photo from an ABA All-Star Game. Not sure of the year.
• So much going on in this photo. The Sixers’ old-school script, the Sonics’ bizarre below-the-waist stripe, the thigh pad, the mid-level tube sox being worn over striped stirrups (just like football players were still doing at that time), the big NBA logo patches on the shorts — it’s a visual feast!
• Here’s a front view of those gorgeous Seattle jerseys. Again, look at the NBA logo patch — it’s huge! I believe this is from the 1970-71 season, which was the year the logo debuted, and I’m pretty sure every team wore it on their shorts that season, as you can see here and here. That last photo also shows the Blazers’ inaugural road uni (another weird sub-waist stripe) and the Warriors’ cable car uni number.
• Speaking of big NBA logo patches, look at this ref! I’ve always wondered when and why NBA refs switched from zebra stripes to gray jerseys (I’ve asked the NBA folks and even they don’t know), and I’m wondering if this might provide the answer. Did the newly unveiled league logo provide the impetus to scrap the zebra stripes and move to a new logo-driven officiating design in 1970-71?
• Man, the Rockets sure had some huge NOB lettering.
• Nate Thurmond kept his socks up by taping them to his shins.
• Great photo, completely awesome caption — I’ll let this one speak for itself.
Want this book for your own library? Plenty of cheap copies available here.
Dog Days: August — it’s the hottest month, the most humid month, the month you can’t find a plumber or a doctor because they’re all on vacation, the month Juan Marichal cracked Johnny Roseboro’s skull with a bat, the month Korey Stringer dropped dead in the heat, the month with no holidays, the month some folks want to scrap altogether.
And you may recall, it’s also the month when I shut down the site last year so I could recharge my batteries. It was just what I needed, so I’ve decided to take this August off as well. But the site will stay open this time, because Phil and Ek have generously offered to steer the ship while I take a break. Here’s what you can expect to see:
• Phil will handle the weekday entries. Don’t expect them to be as lengthy as his usual weekend opuses, although they may sometimes include some of those elements (a round of tweaks here, some uni-tracking there, etc.). He may also occasionally feature one of my old blog posts or ESPN columns from years past — a throwback entry, so to speak. And Brinke will continue to contribute “Collector’s Corner” once a week.
• Webmaster John Ekdahl will handle the weekends. His entries might be full-length or they might just be a photo and a caption. Either way, the site will be open for comments, discussion, etc.
• Although I’ll be taking a break from the blog, I’ll have at least two ESPN columns in August, and those will be noted/linked here on the blog, as per usual.
• Ticker contributions sent to the Uni Watch e-mail address will be forwarded to Phil during August. But there’s one particular category of news I’ll be keeping tabs on: new college football uniforms. If you have news to pass along on that front during August, please send it to this address. Phil will periodically post reminders about this.
I think that’s it. I truly appreciate that Uni Watch has become part of the daily routine for many of you, and I hope you can understand my need to take a short break. I have faith in your ability to survive in my absence, esp. with Phil minding the store in the interim. My last day before unplugging myself from the Uni Watch matrix will be next Friday, the 30th. I’ll plug myself back in on September 1st. OK? OK!
Culinary Corner: Reader Dan Cichalski and his wife, Casey Barber, stopped by Uni Watch HQ yesterday afternoon. Our project for the day: makin’ bacon. Casey had recently cured some pork belly and brined some pork loin, so we set those out on a rack, along with some corn, potatoes, dates, and nuts (also some peaches and tomatoes, but those were added after the photo was taken), and popped all of it into my smoker.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Here’s another feature on Tour de France footwear, plus one about cycling jerseys (thanks, Bryan). … Cool eBay item here: a 1969 NLCS Shea Stadium press pass (as found by Roger Faso). … Interesting use of uniforms and logos in this Streinbrenner-centric cartoon (with thanks to Tom Mulgrew, who also sent along a very interesting little essay about typefaces). … We all know about Pittsburgh teams wearing black and gold. But Matt English has noticed a similar trope in Canada: “I remember reading about the founding of the Blue Jays and that it was almost a foregone conclusion that they’d wear blue uniforms, because Toronto’s traditional sports colo[u]rs were blue and white. That got me thinking: Do do all Canadian cities have their own traditional sports colours? Sure enough, each of the major older Canadian cities appears to have had its own sports colours. And although practically all teams from the 20th century followed these unwritten rules, there seems to be little documentation of these civic colour codes that I could find online.” Fascinating. Anyone know more? … Speaking of Canadian team colors, Doug Brei says many Saskatchewan Roughriders fans, who are passionately devoted to the team’s green/white color scheme, are having a hard time wrapping their heads around the team’s new throwbacks. … Doug Keklak has found what may be the first example of BFBS. “I italicized where it gets interesting and then bolded where it gets really interesting,” he says. … Several EPL clubs have banned that annoying trumpet thingie. … Yet another “worst soccer kits of the season” article (with thanks to Martyn Beeny). … The double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals will be wearing 1985 Royals powder-blue throwbacks on Friday (with thanks to Gage Matthews). … Reprinted from the SABR listserv: Mark Pattison reports that the Braves have a South African single-A prospect named Riaan Spanjer-Furstenburg. That makes for an 18-letter NOB (to put that in perspective, Salty has only 14), plus the hyphen. “His uniform squeezes it all onto one line, with smaller lettering than that for his teammates,” says Mark. … Finally got my hands on some screen shots of Willie Mays from the 1965 All-Star Game, where he wore a Cubs batting helmet for his first several at-bats before switching to a Reds helmet. … Phil did a very nice job colorizing that photo of George Susce from yesterday’s entry. … “I live in Hope Mills, North Carolina, which is very close to Fort Bragg,” writes Gerry Dincher. “Many of the kids here are army brats, and this year one of the youth league all-star teams has used the camouflage pattern for their uniforms. Not the best look, especially with the yellow helmet.” … Scott Stoddard sent along pics of his collection of newspaper signs and delivery tubes.