As most of you probably know by now, Nike unveiled new basketball uniforms yesterday for Arizona, Baylor (women’s), Connecticut (men’s and women’s), Duke, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Syracuse, all of which we’ll get to in a sec.
What you might not know is that the presentation of the uniforms was preceded by a multi-media performance thingie that was sort of like Tron meets modern dance meets basketball meets that scene from the The Simpsons where Homer has a bad trip after eating a super-hot chili pepper. Fortunately, I was watching the live webcast (from which I made all the screen shots you see above) instead of attending in person, so nobody heard me hooting and chortling and generally losing my shit. All they needed was some chick in the corner pouring white wine into cheap plastic cups and it would’ve been a perfect parody of a pretentious Chelsea performance art opening. But they didn’t have that, so instead it was just a self-parody of corporate self-importance.
And what was this production in the service of? A series of uniforms that will be worn in nine games — one for each participating school. In other words, after all the hype is over, each team will wear this super-advanced uniform once. Once!! For this they hired a choreographer?
As you probably also know by now, the uniforms are all gray (although Swooshie is saying with a straight face that they’re actually “platinum”) and all have the same features — reflective trim, sweatback sublimations, super-bright footwear, etc. A few thoughts about this:
• As usual, taking a certain group of schools and putting them all in the same design template creates a Team Nike effect. In other words, the schools look like they’re playing for Nike instead of for themselves. Bogus.
• Nike’s press release states that the new design will be worn “for some of oldest and strongest rivalries in college basketball.” Here, take a look at the nine games. Notice anything unusual? Every one of those games features a Nike school against a non-Nike opponent. The real “rivalries” here are Nike vs. Adidas and Under Armour. In other words, the only team Nike is interested in is Team Swoosh.
• As usual, there were the endless claims about lighter fabrics, new engineering, etc. Some of this was interesting — the shorts, for example, have fused hems instead of sewn hems, which means there’s one less seam that could rub against the skin and cause irritation. I like that. But here’s a question I’ve always wondered about when Nike unveils one of these “elite” uniform sets: If this is really the acme, the pinnacle of uniform design, how come only a handful of schools (in this case schools that have won a national championship) are invited to wear it? Unless you’ve won a national championship, you’re not even allowed to wear this latest advance in uniform technology. If Nike is really about making things better for the athlete, as they always claim, why can’t every school wear the Hyper Elite Super Duper Lightweight Razzle Dazzle design? For that matter, why can’t every football team wear Toy Solider Foxhole Flywire, or whatever it’s called this week?
The answer, it seems to me, is that Nike likes to create hierarchies of envy, stratifications of desire — or, more plainly, a caste system. It’s a stacked deck of haves and have-nots: If you’re in the 1%, you qualify for the good stuff; everyone else is treated like they’re in steerage. Screw that — occupy Nike!
• For the life of me, I don’t get the gray thing. This isn’t just Nike, of course — it’s all across college hoops. Is there anyone who likes it? It looks soooo drab. Can someone please explain it to me? New Uni Watch slogan: Pray the gray away!
• Reader Brandi Bennett sees another problem: “I spent seven years behind the scorer’s table at every conceivable level of basketball, from high school to pro. Just looking at these pictures, I can tell it’s going to be impossible to stat a game with these jerseys. How are you supposed to call something when you can’t even see the numbers? These numbers are barely distinguishable from the rest of the jersey. Wait until a tournament when the stat crew is unfamiliar with the players because they haven’t statted a season of home games for every team on the court.”
• Did you notice they managed to sneak a little apostrophe catastrophe into the Syracuse jersey? I guess it’s nice that they bothered to include an apostrophe at all, even if it’s backwards; they didn’t even bother with one for Arizona.
• Naturally, I like the striped socks, although I wish they were higher and weren’t swoosh-emblazoned.
You can see all of the designs here. Really, though, I think you’d be better off finding video of the performance thingie from the beginning of the event — way more entertaining than the uniforms.
Will they get Wilbur Wood to toss out a ceremonial first knuckleball? Remember that weird period in the early ’70s when the White Sox wore a lot of red? I never understood that. Like, if there’s another team out there called the Red Sox, why would any other Sox wear red? As a kid growing up around that time, I found it very confusing.
Anyway, we’ll all get to re-live those days this summer, as the Sox have announced that they’ll be wearing these 1972 throwbacks for Sunday home games (click to enlarge):
The above-stated chromatic issues notwithstanding, it’s a perfectly nice uniform. A little disappointing to see that they’re going with a button front and raglan sleeves, since the original version had a zipper front and set-in sleeves. The big question, of course, is whether they’ll bring back the sox on the sox
Interestingly, this uniform isn’t shown in the MLB Style Guide, and the Sox didn’t give any advance warning about it, so it caught everyone by surprise. In a world where everyone has already read, responded, and counter-responded to the State of the Union message three hours before it’s even been delivered, I for one love it when something happens spontaneously. Wish more unveilings were handled this way. Good.
Membership update: As you can see at right, Jeff Adelsberger came up with a creative way to thumb his nose at the Uni Watch Membership Program’s rigid “no purple” policy. Major clevertude points to him.
Jeff’s card is part of a new batch of designs that have just been added to the membership card gallery. The printed/laminated versions of these cards should go out in the mail by Saturday.
If you’ve been meaning to follow through on that New Year’s resolution to finally sign up for a membership card already, you know what to do.
Meanwhile, there’s an exciting new development over at Permanent Record.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Cavs wore their CavFanatic uniform last night. … I’d never be able to tell this by myself, but Joey Potts says Cincy coach Butch Jones is wearing Adidas golf shoes in this photo. “I’ve noticed a few other coaches from Adidas-supplied schools wearing golf shoes too, but this is the first picture I’ve came across,” he says. … Yet another college hoops team to going gray: Purdue (from Jimbo Huening). … Yesterday I linked to the new Pro Bowl visors. Here are the full caps (from Jason Snurr). … Interesting note about Bruins goalie Tim Thomas in this article. Key passage: “Thomas made a pretty symbolic change at the beginning of last season when he drained the black and gold colors from his goaltending pads and goalie mask after a summer of trade rumors. Thomas removed the Bruins logo from his mask and instead replaced it with an image of the lucky coin he wears around his neck. The message was simple: From then on, Thomas was playing for himself first and the team second” (from Jeff Downe). … New lacrosse cleats for Hofstra. … Speaking of lacrosse, Jeff Brunelle says, “The first ever ‘helmet wrap’ (full helmet sticker) for professional box lacrosse was revealed last weekend by the Colorado Mammoth,” plus there are some new gloves for Penn State. … More G.I. Joe nonsense, this time for Milwaukee and Butler. They’ll face off wearing those designs tonight. … Remember that talk about the Rockets possibly bringing back their pinstriped uni as a throwback? Forget it (from Robert Silverman). … Octavio Dotel is about to set the record for the most MLB jerseys worn. … Did it ever occur to you that the Cardinals’ birds on the bat aren’t very proportional? (From Kurt Esposito.) … Love this old 1964 football-themed Pez ad sheet. … Here are the Rugby Six Nations 2012 kits. “For those who don’t know, the teams are, from left, France, Wales, England, Ireland, Italy, and Scotland,” says George Chilvers. … Okay, this is really weird: When the KOVO Volleyball League in South Korea had their All-Star Game recently, the players wore bows when they were introduced and the liberos dressed as comic book superheroes. As for the regular uniforms, they were pretty nice (from Jeremy Brahm). … Also from Jeremy: new away uniforms for the Japanese national soccer teams. From left, that’s futsal, men’s, and women’s. … Here’s a site devoted to soccer infographics, including one that shows 100 different depictions of a soccer ball as found on assorted team and association crests (nice find by Chris Cruz). … The Marlins haven’t been able to pimp out the name of their new stadium, so they’re calling it Marlins Park, at least for now. What a pity. … Penn State hockey has added a Joe Paterno memorial decal. “The same stickers will go on the women’s hockey helmets and the lacrosse helmets,” says equipment manager Dustin Allgeier. … Oh great, now there’s specially designed “performance” footwear for the annual coaches-wearing-sneakers cancer thingie (from Adam Jackson). … Doug Keklak was watching last night’s Minnesota/MichState game and noticed that the Gophers currently have three rather unusual NOBs. … The Clippers and Grizzlies will be dressing up as the Stars and Tams tonight. … Matt Hendricks of the Caps suffered an ear laceration in practice over the weekend and had to have his helmet fitted with an external ear guard. “I’ve never seen that before,” says Mike Engle. “Most ear guards are either completely removed (as seen on most NHL player heads), or left intact and installed from the interior (see Crosby and Malkin, or any hockey helmet at retail). Obviously, this was a last-minute modification.” … The Heat made a headband switcheroo at halftime last night, changing from NBA Fit blue to their regular black (from Keenan Bailey).