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Mr. Vilk Looks Back at NBA All Star Games Past

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By Phil Hecken, with Jimmer Vilk

I have a confession to make — this piece was actually supposed to run tomorrow, the day of the actual NBA All Star Game. Originally, I had planned to run a new “What’s Your Sign(ature)?” piece, but as I was preparing to write that yesterday, I was contacted by an old friend (and former UW contributor) who proposed a piece we’ve done in the past. I heartily accepted, as he promised me he could have that piece for me last evening (to run this morning). Unfortunately, at 1:00 am, he contacted and let me know it “wouldn’t be finished.” Had I written the What’s Your Sign(ature) bit as planned, I could have just dropped that in here. However, I had confidence my old friend would get me his promised article. He did not, and I didn’t have a backup. As weekend editor, that’s on me. But I’m not happy. Anyway, kudos to Jimmer Vilk for stepping up bigly and getting me HIS piece a day early. I’ll make sure I try have some juicy content for tomorrow, and I learned a lesson the hard way. ALWAYS have a piece in reserve.

With that off my chest, Jimmer and I had planned this to run tomorrow — but you’ll still get to enjoy it a day early.

When the NBA ditched the 2017 All Star Game location (scheduled for Charlotte originally) and moved it to New Orleans, a lot of scrambling had to be done. I believe adidas, in their last year of the NBA contract, had had some “Carolina”-type themed uniforms (as they usually tailored ASG unis to the venue in the past), but when the event was moved, the jerseys the West and East will wear tomorrow are…well, pretty generic. In fact, it almost seems like adidas just threw in the towel here, since they’re gone after the season and there probably wasn’t all that much time to come up with new, New Orleans-esque unis. Although after the last set of uniforms worn in a NOLA All Star Game, maybe that’s for the best.

Here’s what they’ll be wearing tomorrow: gray (dark) vs gray (light). With an adidas logo and a Kia ad.

17 ASG 1

17 ASG 3 17 ASG 2

The West will be in the darker gray while the East will be in the light shade.

NBA All Star game unis over the years have been great, good and lousy. I’d put this years into the later category only because they’re so lifeless. But back in the day they were bold, bright and colorful (that doesn’t always make them good, but it did make them more interesting). Jimmer is going to give you a look back at the good, the bad and the ugly in his own unique way. So, on that note, I’ll turn the rest of this over to him (as I type this, it’s 1:30 am)…

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All Time, All Stars, All Jimmer
By Jim Vilk

Two years ago I set out to make the most time-spanning Best All Time All Star Game Uniforms list there is. One can only span so far, though, in the confines of the usual 5&1 format. Thankfully Phil gave me three times the space today so I can get even more comprehensive as you try to comprehend my tastes.

Unlike the 5&1s, let’s get my three bad ones out of the way. I want to end on a high note. We begin with…

. . .

&3) 1996

1996a

I actually liked the previous year’s unis (we’ll see them later). My tastes kind of drew a line in the sand with them, however, and this year’s crossed that line. The number font just plain bugs me. Then there is the jalapeno. Change that into a carrot and you’d have the uni the Tune Squad should have worn in Space Jam. Not even the trim or the teal could save this look for me.

. . .

&2) 2014

2014a

What is this, the MLS All Star Game? I don’t like the lack of front numbers, and I REALLY don’t like how the West’s red and blue didn’t contrast enough. On the plus side, at least there wasn’t an ad patch on the jerseys.

. . .

&1) 2008

2008

Welcome to Rock Bottom. The numbers are too small, the lettering is WAY too busy…and seriously…who thinks it’s a good idea to have one team with an all-white front and the other team with an all-white back? Even if this game was on free TV I wouldn’t have watched that mess.

. . .

Before we continue, yes, all my bad ones were from the last 25 years. Stay tuned, though, because the 21st century hasn’t been all bad. It’s well represented in the Top 15, and higher than you probably assume. OK, back to the countdown…

. . .

15) 1951

1951

Ah, the charming simplicity of the inaugural unis. It’s really all you need, though, especially in a game that wasn’t televised. I wouldn’t wear the Chuck Taylors those players had, but I’d wear those uniforms.

. . .

14) 1987

1987

Like 2003 but with proper shorts. This game was the third thing I ever recorded on our family’s VCR and since I don’t have TNT I’ll be watching it instead of tomorrow’s game. I’d like the unis better if the jerseys had “East” and “West” instead of both having “NBA.”

. . .

13) 1967

1967d

The first of the host team-themed unis, and they started out with a great one. If the Warriors ever host another game I hope they do something similar with their new bridge logo.

. . .

12) 2012

2012

Sublimation can be fun. I like the nice big numbers and the fonts. I also like how they didn’t go overboard with the stars on this set.

. . .

11) 2004

2004b

It’s as if the New York Rangers collided with a mid-60s NBA All Star uni. My only quibble is that the numbers could’ve been bigger.

. . .

10) 1983

1983

I have great memories of watching this game, so I thought it would have ranked higher. The picture you see of Kareem, though, shows why it isn’t. They should’ve accounted for his name when designing these otherwise nice unis. Even Doc’s name makes a great case for putting names under numbers.

. . .

9) 1979

1979

Apparently I have a thing for diagonals. Even quirkier than 2004, this has the East going up and the West going down. If Future Me ever does another list, don’t be surprised if this one ranks higher.

. . .

8) 1982

1982

I gave this set extra points for trying. A lot going on with the backs of those jerseys. The number font makes up for it, though. If I were to tweak these I’d switch the conference name and the “All Stars.”

. . .

7) 1995

1995

I can’t believe this one is ranked so high. And yet it is. Actually when it first came out my reaction was different, but back then I didn’t know the NBA had a long history of host-themed unis. Present Me joins ’95 Me in loving that font, though.

. . .

6) 2006

2006

Another one with great fonts. I would’ve liked it more if the West had better contrast with the numbers. Hard to believe this futuristic-looking uni is now 11 years old!

. . .

5) 1972

1972

This was my #4 two years ago. I still love the thought of Celtics stars having to wear Lakers colors.

. . .

4) 1978

1978a

This was my #5 two years ago, but that crossword puzzle look is really growing on me. I may have to DIY an Artis Gilmore Western Conference shirt someday.

. . .

3) 2009

2009a

I don’t know if they were going for hot desert days and cool desert nights with those unis, but that’s the impression I got. The fonts and the subtle phoenix trim were more reasons to love this set. And, like 2012, the KC Kings fan in me loves names under numbers.

. . .

2) 1966

1966b

Best I could do was get a couple of screenshots from this video. I love the big normal-sized numbers and the stars down the sides. Ask me again some other time and this could easily be my #1. But for now that honor goes to…

. . .

1) 1981

1981

Yes, this is 1981. Sports Illustrated and SI Kids say the 1980 unis were used in ’81 but they weren’t. I know because I was there and so was CBS Sports. I love the non-serif block font, and even though there’s a lot on there, everything is just so perfectly proportioned. If you watch the video, you’ll see they even got Kareem’s name to fit without any problems.

. . .

As I used to say years ago, I don’t consider this THE list…it’s just my list. My opinion is invalid no better than yours, so let’s hear your picks in the comments. Thanks for your time, and enjoy the game!

. . . . . . . . . . .

Thanks Jimmer! Thanks also for getting this to me *early* (it’s now 2:45 am as I type this) so it could run today. I’m too tired now to argue with your choices, so I’ll just end this with, “good job, good effort!”

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UW QBC Panel 3

Queens Baseball Convention Panel

You guys (and gals) will no doubt recall that Paul hosted the Uni Panel at this year’s Queens Baseball Convention (QBC), otherwise known as a “Mets Fan Fest” at the end of last month. I had a quick rundown of the uni panel at the beginning of the linked post, and that Monday, Paul had the audio from the event. Now, finally, there is video to go along with it. The star-studded panel included Paul (of course), plus Russ Gompers (the Mets jersey stitcher), Jon Springer (author and Mets-numerologist), designer Todd Radom and Nick DiSalvo (jersey collector and expert on all game-worn Mets jerseys). Oh yeah, I was there too, with a segment on Mets uni tracking for 2016.

If you have a few minutes (or 50+), give it a watch. I thought it was one of our better discussions (this was the third time we’ve all done this now). Enjoy!

UNIPANEL from Media Goon aka Keith Blacknick on Vimeo.

Big thanks to Keith Blacknick (aka “Media Goon”) and Shannon Shark of Mets Police!

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reminder

ESPN reminder: In case you missed it Thursday, Paul’s latest ESPN column focuses on what could be the beginning of the end of the BFBS trend, with a great (and exhaustive, though far from total) look at teams who have gone “Black For Black’s Sake” over the years. Enjoy.

Party reminder: Uni Watch party TOMORROW, Feb. 19, 3pm, in the back room of the Douglass (which is the same place we used to meet at, Sheep Station, but with a new name). Paul will be there, I’ll be there, and Paul may have theoretical T-shirts to sell, etc. Come join us!

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Uni Watch News Ticker
By Phil

Baseball News: Ooooohhh. Check out this bee-you-tee-ful 1906 Official Score Book from the Eastern League (via The Skimmers). … Also via The Skimmers, look at this tremendous 1905 photo of John McGraw of the New York Giants manning first. And check out the bag itself — is that a “baserunner cutout” we see there? … Neat overhead shot of the Houston Astros’ spring training complex. … Not sure if this is new, but Luke Jackson writes, “I’ve noticed Francisco Lindor is wearing New Balance. Big UnderArmour guy since being in MLB.” … The St. Paul Saints tweeted, “Our fans seem to love the 25th Anniversary uniform and cap with the kids calling them ‘lit’ & ‘fleek.’ Your thoughts @PhilHecken @UniWatch?” My thoughts are, “are ‘lit’ and ‘fleek’ still things?” … That post of course inspired Bruce Menard to come up with this picture of the 1939 St. Paul Saints. … When NL expansion happened in 1962, the Astros (nee Colt 45s) and Mets took two divergent paths towards stocking their teams. The Mets had hoped to lure both Brooklyn Dodger and NY Giants fans so they stocked their roster with past-prime former Dodgers (Hodges, Labine, Lavagetto, Craig, Zimmer, Neal), all of whom showed up to that first spring training (thanks to Bruce Menard). … Latest team to join the matte helmet parade — the Miami Marlins (from Richard). … You need to listen to this “Hall Of Very Good” podcast with Todd Radom. Twice (from Hall of Very Good). … Lots and lots of unis and combos for the University of Virginia (from Wayne Jones). … Former Met Bartolo Colon is shown wearing a Braves helmet with the “a” logo (from Sander Bryan). … Here’s a closer look at the jersey number (and NOB) detailing for the Mets (and other teams have this as well) ST jerseys (via Shannon Shark). … We may still have to wait a bit for real baseball (as great as spring training may be), but they’re already playing College Ball. Here’s FSU’s first combo of the year (nice that they’re starting the season off with all white unis). From Christy. … Here’s a look at the unis the Miami Hurricanes will wear this season (from Jeff C). And apparently this is their BP cap (from Jeff). … Here’s a great shot of UNC Baseball from the ’90s — the 1890s (from James Gilbert). … USC (SCar) baseball is honoring a long-time fan who recently passed away. “Oot-oot” was his heckling call of choice. … Tommy Bahama is out with new Spring Training aloha shirts. Here are the shirts for the Grapefruit League, and for the Cactus League (from R. Scott Rogers). … New all black softball uniforms for the Florida Gators (from GatorsSB EQ). … Coastal Carolina, the 2016 champs, opened their season in white pins (via Joe Murano). … This is disappointing — The San Francisco Dons are sporting beautiful pins, and then ruining it with 2-in-1s (good spot by Brandon). … On the flip side of the ‘rup coin is Oklahoma, who rocked some really nice ones yesterday (from Trayton Miller). … “Looks as if Miami U (Ohio) turned a bad uni (at least hat) triple play [yester]day… wow!!” says Matt Newbery. … Also in the “good” stirrups camp (albeit a wee bit too much opening being shown) are Youngstown State University (from Robert Hayes). … Tweeter Griffin Smith thinks Presbyterian Baseball has some “tough color combos.” … Beau Parsons points out the Tigers are using their 1964-93 logo on their website. … President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were presented with a Maine-Endwell Little League World Series Championship jersey and hat during a meeting. … Looks like Michigan softball is wearing raised logos on their helmets this year (good spot by TJ Hudge). … Here’s a close-up of Craig Kimbrel’s custom Kobe cleats (from Zach Loesl).

NFL/Football News: How great is this old photo of Jim Brown? (via the Browns). They need to revert to that uni as soon as their contract will allow. … Oh my. As pointed out by New Year, who dis?, there was an unfortunate logo mishap during Thursday night’s Indoor Football League game. … The Green Bay Packers are planning to hold monthly history nights, the first of which kicks off on February 28th (via Rich Ryman). … The hed and sub hed of this article, “Will Nike ever alter Eagles uniforms? Nike has changed eight uniforms since the company become the NFL’s uniform supplier. Will the Eagles ever fall into the Nike purge?” certainly implies that such changes are actually, ya know, up to Nike. Not the way things work in the NFL. Of course, there would be many (myself included), who would love for the Eagles to return to kelly green, but ultimately, that’s NOT Nike’s call.

Hockey News: Here’s a new (and rare end-of-season release) of new white jerseys for Robert Morris University Women’s Hockey (from Alan Saunders). … The Belfast Giants, of the UK’s Elite Ice Hockey League, wore pink Valentines jerseys the other day (from The Lupine One). … Tweeter Brian Prutch says of these black and pink jerseys, “2017 jerseys for this weekends @UtahGrizz games. Names represent someone that has survived or that we lost.” Also “cancer sucks”. … The infamous “worst jersey ever?” Burger King sweaters make a return to the ice, only they’ll be worn by the Ontario Reign (from Kristopher Sharpe). … Not sure I’ve ever seen this before, but it’s definitely cool: the Missouri Mavericks are doing a “Salute Weekend” which includes a Negro Leagues tribute mask (from Jon Saddler). They’re honoring Willie O’Ree, 81, who was the first black player to play in a National Hockey League game (you can learn more here). … The Reading Royals will wear these extremely pink sweaters today (from THOMPUCKS). … The Milwaukee Admirals busted out the Slapshot-inspired sweaters last evening (from ROW THE GOPH).

NBA/Basketball News: Whoa — check out this sweet CBA Oshkosh Flyers program from the 84-85 season (from Brad Beck). … The NBA All Star Game has emojis you can download. … There are Ekins and then well, there are people who get a swoosh and jumpman logo tattooed on their faces. From Eric Juergens, who writes, “Jumpman on her face..gross.” Pretty much. … Last evening’s “Rising Stars” game for the All Star festivities was color vs. color (from Zach). … Also from Zach, TNT’s mic flags were Sager Strong. … Mark Cuban trolled President Donald Trump last night by wearing a No. 46 jersey at NBA celeb game. … The following are all NBA reports from Zach Loesl: Master P went full sleeves in the Celebrity Game; two players wore triple digits; The adidas patch was on the Rising Stars challenge jerseys; Kristaps Porzingis wore cool shoes during the Rising Stars challenge; and finally, a custom ball and net were used during the Rising Stars challenge; … Here’s a list of the 10 worst sneakers ever worn at the NBA All Star game.

College/High School Hoops News: The Northwestern Wildcats will be breaking out their “Gothic” uniforms today (from NU Men’s Basketball). … According to Chris Lather, a “Laundry mishap meant color vs color action (last) night for @CwoodHoops vs Estelline in varsity action.”

Soccer News: Nice find by Paul who sends in this New York Times article on corner flags in the English Premier League. … If you’re a fan of Real Salt Lake (or even if you’re not), this article ranks all their kits from best to worst. … Looks like D.C. United will finally be getting their “own” stadium after “a dozen years of frustration to replace RFK Stadium as its home.” … With all the new MLS releases recently, I can’t keep track of what we’ve seen and haven’t seen. So just to be safe, here’s the Orlando City 2017 primary reveal. More images here (from DontTrustAny1ButRon). … The Minnesota United revealed their kits yesterday (scroll down for more images). From Ben Hagen and Smiley. … The Colorado Rapids unveiled a new secondary jersey earlier this week. It’s very gold.

Grab Bag: If you’re a fan of Leinenkugels beer then you might be interested to know they have new “branding” (according to Chris Viel). That’s merely a redesign, not a rebranding however. … “Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank had a cool brand before stepping into a hot mess.” That’s from Tommy Turner. … Here’s a history of shark-mouth nose art on fighter planes. Adds submitter R. Scott Rogers, “Includes everything from WWI biplanes all the way up to recent USAF football unis.” … “The city of Orlando,FL is having a contest to design their new flag,” writes Kevin Kleinhans. “Not sports related but I figured there might be some interested. Do not need to be a resident to enter.”

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And that’s it for today. Thanks to Jimmer Vilk for coming through at a very late hour and for saving today’s post. Sorry I couldn’t run it on the day of the actual All Star Game, but them’s the breaks. I’m not 100% sure, but I am hoping to attend the Devils/Isles game tonight, and if so, I will be off the grid for a good portion of the day. So tomorrow’s content (don’t worry, I’ll get a lede done) may be somewhat light. And to all the NYC-area readers, don’t forget the Douglass gathering on Sunday. As I put this piece to bed, it’s 3:00 am.

Back atcha tomorrow, but until then…

Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.

Peace.

.. … ..

“Guess I’m the only non-fan of the raised – too perfectly puffy – precision poppy – batting helmet logos. Will always prefer the pine tar smudged can’t even see the logo look of yesteryear. But, I’m old.”

— Muddlehead

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Cardinals Switch to 3-D Helmet Logos

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The Cardinals have become the latest team to go with a three-dimensional batting helmet logo, following the Dodgers’ lead from last year. I liked L.A.’s version last year, and I like this version even more. The two-color treatment looks great.

A few notes:

• As you may recall, the Dodgers started with a hard-plastic logo that constantly chipped and cracked, so around the All-Star break they switched to a flexible rubberized version, which worked fine. That’s the version the Cardinals are using.

• The Dodgers also switched from glossy helmets to matte, so their raised logos were made with a matte finish. But the Cards are sticking with glossy helmets, so their logos will have a glossy finish.

• David Sulecki of Pro Helmet Decals, who manufactured the logos, said the “StL” helmet mark was designed to mimic the cap logo as closely as possible. Even the little raised bumps where the white lines intersect were meant to mimic the similar raised areas on the team’s embroidered cap logo.

• There’s also a separate version for the Cards’ navy road helmet (which they still use when playing against a host team that wears red caps, like the Reds or Nationals). I hope to have a photo of that soon.

Meanwhile, you can expect to see several additional MLB teams going with the raised helmet logos this season (and some new matte helmets, too). Some may unveil them as soon as next week, and others may wait until later in spring training or even Opening Day. Stay tuned.

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ESPN reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, my latest ESPN column looks at the rise and fall of BFBS. Check it out here.

Party reminder: Uni Watch party this Sunday, Feb. 19, 3pm, in the back room of the Douglass (which is the same place we used to meet at, Sheep Station, but with a new name). Phil will be there, I’ll be there, you should be there. Come join us!

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Design this: I have an annoying medical condition (don’t worry, not life-threatening or debilitating) that has so far resisted everything my doctors have thrown at it. Last year we tried a fancy-shmancy drug that I took by using a beautifully engineered auto-injector. That didn’t help, so now I’ve just started taking a new fancy-shmancy drug, which is delivered via an even more beautifully engineered auto-injector (see above).

It’s fascinating to see the differences between the two injectors. The one I used last year was good, but this new one is definitely better — more intuitive, more ergonomic, feels better in the hand, and the flared base keeps it from slipping (which was a problem I had one time with last year’s injector). We know drug companies employ lots of scientists and doctors who are trying to come up with cures for diseases, but it’s easy to forget that they also employ teams of industrial designers who create things like auto-injectors, and that some of their design solutions are better than others.

I also like that the top plunger button and some of the typography and graphics are green — my favorite color.

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The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: Looks like the Mets will have a St. Paddy’s Day cap (from Steven Hom). … Stance continues to have problems with striped socks. To be clear, it is impossible to have perfect stripes on a knit sock — the nature of knitting makes it unavoidable that the beginning and end of the stripe won’t align. But they shouldn’t be off by that much (from @LADodgersRich). … Red Sox P Chris Sale discussed his “Edward Scissorhands” meltdown from last year (thanks, Brinke). … Latest college team to go with a 3D helmet logo: Mississippi State (from Dustin Semore). … Did the Rockies change their shade of purple in order to please 3B Nolan Arenado? It’s a fun idea, but the reality is that this change, like all MLB uni changes, was in the pipeline for a while (from Rob Montoya). … More about the Rockies new shade of purple here (from DenverGregg in yesterday’s comments). … Diamondbacks’ new pants look so much better without the stupid gradation on the cuffs. … Speaking of the D-backs, P Fernando Rodney was taking bunting drills while wearing a ring yesterday. … New uniforms for East Tennessee State (from Brandon Keys). … The Single-A Potomac Nationals have a new 40th-anniversary patch. Only problem is that this isn’t their 40th anniversary; it’s their 40th season (from R. Scott Rogers). … The Pirates’ G.I. Joke jersey will no longer be paired with a G.I. Joke cap, which I guess qualifies as a small bit of progress. … Some MLBers are wearing a new (to me) spring training pullover. It’s not the one I wrote about two weeks ago — it’s this (from Zach Loesl). … Also from Zach: Here’s a look at the Royals’ “Ace 30” memorial patch for Yordano Ventura. … LSU-Alexandria is going with purple tequila sunrise jerseys (from Ashley Purifoy).

NFL News: A bunch of old Steelers jerseys are up for auction. Of particular interest are the two Batman designs — one black, one white — and this 1962 design with the gold sleeve panels. I really like the gold outlining on those black numerals, too. Further info on all of these newly available jerseys here (from Jerry Wolper and Chris Weber). … “I was watching a video on the Bears’ website about a couple that had ‘an impressive Bears-themed garage,'” says Ben Obecny. “The woman in the video was wearing a No. 33 Bears jersey with two NOBs — one for Charles “Peanut” Tillman and and for Jeremy Langford. Would this be DNOB, for double name on back?” … Dog bites man: Lions exec Ron Wood thinks fans will like the new uniforms (from Phil). … Yesterday’s Ticker mentioned that the zebras in Supe XXVII changed from short sleeves to long sleeves during halftime. “I was there shooting the game for KVUE-TV in Austin,” says Kenny Kaplan. “I wore a short-sleeve shirt during the first half and had to put on a light jacket for the second half, because it definitely cooled off quickly when the sun started to go down.” … Three different Saints players, three different number fonts, or at least font weights. That’s from a 1977 game (from Mike Selock).

College Football News: Here’s a look back at the history of Minnesota’s uniforms (from Eric S). … Whoa, check out this awesome Iowa State helmet cart (from Andrew Cinnamon).

Hockey News: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-themed jerseys upcoming for the Cincinnati Cyclones (from Bill Fenbers). … Here’s something I hadn’t realized: The NHL All-Star jerseys have the NHL Players’ Association logo on the back-right shirttail. A quick check of NHLuniforms.com reveals that it’s been going on for years, but I just never noticed (from Steven Woj). … The Orlando Solar Bears have a lot of ads on the ice. “It’s quite distracting watching the game,” says Steve Mendygral.

NBA News: Here are all 30 NBA team logos reimagined for Black History Month. Some are really good, others less so, but I like the explanations behind each design, many of which are informative and educational (from Daniel Pedroza).

College Hoops News: SUNY-Buffalo will wear 1950s throwbacks on Saturday (from Brian Wolff). … Oregon wore a new neon design last night. I love how the tweet says, “New uniforms create hype” — hey, at least they’re honest about it. Here’s how the unis looked during the game. … Check this out: Oglethorpe University has black uniforms on a black floor! (From Kirk Shellhouse.) … “Michigan basketball had a Social Media Night,” says Jay Winker. “They gave out shirts with the players’ faces as emoji, and the scoreboard had emoji logos for the teams. It’s a kinda silly idea, but I thought the execution was pretty good.”

Soccer News: New uniform for Real Salt Lake. “Interesting choice to have the stripes stop in the area around the advertiser’s name,” says @bdh_photos). … New secondary kit for the New England Revolution. … The new FC Dallas away jersey has leaked (from Jim Collier). … Ditto for Minnesota United’s inaugural kit. … New logo for the Chicago Red Stars (from Jason Yellin). … New uniforms for the San Jose Earthquakes (from Noah Fischer).

Grab Bag: Love this assortment of Chevrolet speedometer designs (big thanks to Dave Wilson). … The latest project from DIY genius Wafflebored is characteristically weird but awesome. Here, see for yourself. … Looks like NFNS — that’s neon for neon’s sake — has filtered down to Formula 1 (from @VictoryCB). … Here’s the ticket design for this year’s Indy 500 (thanks, Alex). … Funny car driver Robert Hight recently ran a paint scheme that paid tribute to the California Highway Patrol (from David Firestone). … Also from David: New driver suit for top fuel driver Tony Schumacher. … Oooh, I like this: Lego logos though the ages (from Manzell Blakely). … New jersey for the South African Super Rugby team Southern Kings (from Eric Bangeman). … Happy birthday to longtime reader Elena Elms, who sends me uniform-themed holiday cookies each December. She’s also a huge Cardinals fan. What do you think of the raised helmet logo, Elena?

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What Paul did last night: I turn 53 next month. Like most people, I’ve slowed down a bit as i’ve gotten older and can no longer keep up the pace I had when I was younger. But last night I had an ambitious agenda — three events in three different locations — and managed to pull it off.

I began at NYU, where my friend Joanna Ebenstein, founder of the recently shuttered Morbid Anatomy Museum, was giving a presentation about how she unexpectedly found a new career as a museum director. As you can see in that last link, one of the key questions she addressed was “What happens when your passion becomes your profession?” — something I can relate to.

Joanna’s presentation was really, really good, but I had to leave after an hour because my friends Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. were playing, so I ran about six blocks north, caught a crosstown bus, and arrived just as they were starting. Their show had a Presidents Day theme, with everyone in attendance receiving a custom-packaged presidential figurine. Here’s mine (click to enlarge):

I only stayed for the first set, because I had to scoot over to another club to see my friends the Gowanus All-Stars, who were playing a show of their own. They had four guitarists last night — and it was almost enough:

I left the club at about 11pm, grabbed a slice of pepperoni-bacon pizza on my way to the subway, and was home by 11:45 — not bad. Good to know I can still pursue an ambitious evening agenda if I want to.

The one thing connecting all three of these events is that I’m friends with the people involved. I’m lucky to know so many talented, creative people!

However you spent your Thursday night, hope it was a good one. Have a great weekend, and I hope to see some of you at the Douglass on Sunday.

Red Wings Add Mike Ilitch Memorial Patch

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The Red Wings added a “Mr.I” memorial patch yesterday for former owner Mike Ilitch, who passed away last Friday. There’s a white version of the patch for the team’s road jersey, and they’ve also added the patch lettering to the ice.

The Wings’ AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, are also memorializing Ilitch, with a “Mr.I” decal. Ilitch also owned the Detroit Tigers, who’ll have their own patch for him this season, although we don’t yet know what that will look like.

The “Mr. I” format reminds me of how the 1993 Tampa Bay Bucs memorialized their late owner, Hugh Culverhouse, with a “Mr.C” sleeve script (in both cases, it looks like they intentionally opted not to have a space after the period):

Are there other owners — or players, or anyone else — who’ve been uni-memorialized with the “Mr. [Letter]” format? I can’t think of any. Am I overlooking anyone?

Update: Our own Mike Chamernik points out that the Pistons had a “Mr. D” memorial for Bill Davidson. So there you go.

(My thanks to John Chapman and Justin H. for their contributions to this post.)

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Click to enlarge

Tales from the dark side: With the Detroit Lions recently announcing that they’ll be eliminating black from their color scheme, I’ve taken a look at other teams that went BFBS and then thought better of it (including the Royals, as shown above). Check it out here.

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Party reminder: Uni Watch party this Sunday, Feb. 19, 3pm, in the back room of the Douglass (which is the same place we used to meet at, Sheep Station, but with a new name). Phil will be there, I’ll be there, you should be there. Come join us!

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Family affair: Yesterday I visited my mom, who will be 93 in April. She lives in a retirement community where dinner is served at a communal dining hall, which is a bit of a shame, because she’s a really good cook. But she continues to make her own lunch each day. Yesterday: hard-boiled eggs and red peppers on toast. She drinks her coffee out of a pitcher “because it’s a little bigger than a mug and it’s exactly the amount of coffee I want to drink.”

The rock in the background may look like a paperweight, but it’s actually for physical therapy. She has a bad shoulder and was told to get one of those mini-barbell/weight thingies to do lifting repetitions, but she said, “Why should I spend money on that when there are rocks on the patio outside my apartment?” That’s my mom. And as she also noted, “It’s a really nice rock, don’t you think?”

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Zach’s NBA Report
By Zach Loesl

Although more NBA games have been color-on-color lately, the reality is that most games are still white-on-color (or, in the case of the Lakers, yellow-on-color). There were 14 games yesterday, for example, and only one of them — Indiana at Cleveland — was color-on-color. I typically enjoy color-on-color games, but they seem less special when there are too many of them. I think the NBA should limit the number of such games.

In other news from yesterday, the Raptors wore throwback uniforms and played on a throwback court as well. Alternate courts are the next frontier in NBA design. I am willing to bet that within the next three to five years, the number of teams with alternate or throwback courts will outnumber those with only one court.

In that Raptors game, Jonas Valanciunas appeared to be wearing the wrong warm-up shirt.

Last, check out the top of the backboard in this Hawks/Clippers photo. The design incorporates the team logo and slogan — so much better than the boring default of putting the team’s website address or Twitter handle in that spot.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball NewsPaul had previously reported that MLB’s new BP tops were designed to be worn untucked, but players are tucking them in. Also, note the slashed zero on Noah Syndegaard’s T-shirt. You don’t usually see that on MLB gear. … Inaugural uni set for the Class A Florida Fire Frogs (from Nick Jones). … Dee Gordon of the Marlins wore NBA socks during a recent workout (from Stormsy). … Speaking of the Marlins, it looks like they’re the latest team to go with matte helmets (from @damedonaldson). … South Carolina is jumping on the 3D helmet logo train (from Ryan Fischer). … Awesome find by Ray Hund: A classic custom baseball uniform order form, found in the The Great American Baseball Scrapbook by A. D. Suehsdorf.

Pro and College Football News: Here’s an odd one: In Super Bowl XXVII (Cowboys/Bills, 1993), the officiating crew wore short sleeves in the first half and long sleeves in the second half. “The game was at the Rose Bowl and started at 3:30pm local time, so maybe it got colder after the sun went down,” says David Westfall. … Colts lineman Robert Pratt had some serious NOB issues during a 1977 playoff game against the Raiders (from Bill Kellick). … Eric Wright found some TV number inconsistencies on the unis of the old Houston Gamblers of the USFL. … Western Michigan has agreed to hand over the trademark to the “Row The Boat” slogan to former football coach P.J. Fleck for $50,000 (from Andrew Cosentino).

Hockey NewsLooks like the Penguins are the inspiration behind this Detroit company’s logo (from Eric). … The Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL unveiled cheese-themed unis yesterday (from Ryan Wozniak).

NBA News: Serge Ibaka will wear No. 9 with the Raptors, after wearing No. 7 with the Magic (thanks, Mike). …The Cavs and Pacers went black sleeves on gold last night. On Tuesday, the Cavs wore gold against the black-sleeved Timberwolves (from K Dawg). … Does this Timberwolves Valentine’s Day shirt offer clues to their upcoming new uni set? (From Reno Gruber.) … A Milwaukee culture site has some nickname suggestions for the Bucks’ new D-Leauge G®-League team in Oshkosh (from Aaron Szopinski). … Aaron also sends along a interesting piece on how the Bucks got their own nickname. … The BIG3 is a new professional 3-on-3 league featuring a number of former NBA players. One of the teams, the Killer 3s, unveiled a new logo yesterday (from Nina Kiersted).

College Hoops NewsHere’s the logo for the 2018 Women’s Final Four in Columbus (from Jesse Ghiorzi). … Keith Clowers’ coworker has a Kansas Jayhawks tissue box cover that makes the box look like a couch. Never seen that before. … Northern Iowa (go UNI!) wore some pretty brutal BFBS unis last night. You can’t even make out the purple NOBs against the black background (from Joe Ringham).

Soccer NewsNew yellow second kit for the Colorado Rapids (from B. Darby). … FC Dallas teased their new secondary kit yesterday (from Phillip Foose). … D.C. United hasn’t even begun building its new stadium, but they have already sold the naming rights (from John Muir). … Good to see there’s creativity in soccer kit design (from ACC Tracker). … Speaking of, here’s a closer look at the USWNT red kit (from Mark Johnson). … Belarusian team FC BATE Borisov is teasing their kits for the 2017-18 season (from Ed Zelaski).

Grab Bag: True Irishmen and Irishwomen will tell you that a shamrock — not a four-leaf clover — is the official symbol of St. Patrick’s Day (more on that distinction here). But Jeff Pollock points out that many teams make the mistake of using a four-leaf clover in lieu of a shamrock on St. Paddy’s Day jerseys and merch. … After Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s praise of President Trump blew up in his face, Plank
responded by trying to explain himself in a full-page ad in yesterday’s Baltimore Sun (from Tommy Turner). … This is great: The University of Houston golf team used to have numbered polo shirts — with SNOB! (From Robert Andrews.) … The U. of Mississippi’s campus  bike shop has an interesting logo that incorporates the school’s nickname (from Jason). … J. Huck shared this tweet from the Duke Archives with this awesome letterhead.

Welcome to Idiocracy: NBA D-League to Become Gatorade League (yes, really)

The NBA began the week on a good note, with the Jazz eschewing a standard corporate advertising patch in favor of a charitable fundraiser. But if you think that move was the start of a new, less ad-centric approach, think again. Yesterday it was back to corporatocracy as usual, as it was announced that the NBA’s Development League, commonly known as the D-League, will be known as the Gatorade League, or the G-League, starting next season.

That sounds like something out of The Onion, and the video clip shown above could easily be mistaken for a Saturday Night Live sketch (the bit where one guy talks about “the essence of what the Gatorade League stands for” is begging for a laugh track), but the whole thing is all too real. And the logo shown at right, with the Gatorade mark in the corner, will be the league’s new logo.

If you look at the press release in that last link, it’s interesting to see that they’re describing Gatorade as the league’s “entitlement partner.” That’s one of the standard terms for this type of arrangement (it’s frequently used in auto racing, as you can see here, here, and here), although the simpler “title sponsor” is also common. I’ve always found the “entitlement partner” version to be creepily appropriate, because the corporate hubris required to spread advertising into every nook and cranny of our world definitely reflects a sense of entitlement.

I know, I know — it’s just the D-League G-League, so who cares, right? But we know from experience that the NBA uses the D-League and the WNBA as staging areas to test-drive new initiatives. At one point ad patches on NBA jerseys would have been unthinkable, and we all know how that one turned out. So don’t be so sure that this type of “entitlement partnership” couldn’t one day work its way up to the NBA or one of the other major pro leagues.

Of course, if you’re a soccer fan, you’re already used to this type of thing, as the Premier League had several corporate-sponsored advertised names from 1993 through 2016. Interestingly, when the Premier League announced last year that it would no longer have a title advertiser, the explanation given was this: “The move reflects the organization’s desire to mirror major American sports leagues like the NBA and NFL in presenting a ‘clean’ brand.”

An admirable approach. Too bad the NBA now seems to be heading in the opposite direction.

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Meanwhile, over on the diamond…: There was a bit of a stir yesterday when MLB commish Rob Manfred talked about the possibility of uniform ads during a Bloomberg interview. The interview is shown above, and here’s the key passage, after the interviewer raised the issue of jersey advertising:

Manfred: We’re going to have front-of-the-jersey branding with Under Armour for the first time in the next couple of years [actually in 2020 — PL]…

Interviewer: That’s already a big move.

Manfred: A big change for us, and I think we’ll have to digest that change before we think about going further.

Interviewer: But you’re not ready to write it off or anything..?

Manfred: No, I mean, look, I think you have to remain open-minded. Our game evolves, like all games. You have to be careful with the changes you make, so you don’t offend the traditionalists that are our core audience. But we remain open-minded on topics like that.

So basically the interviewer raised the issue and Manfred was non-committal. It’s the kind of response that lets people project their own predisposed notions onto the situation. If you believe the worst, then your takeaway is, “Manfred is definitely laying the groundwork for jersey ads.” If you’re more of optimist, your takeaway is, “He said they won’t even consider it until after they see how things look with the Under Armour logo creep, and that’s still three years away, so there’ll be no jersey ads for the foreseeable future.”

I’ll say this much: Manfred’s been commissioner for barely a year and we already have New Era logo creep on the caps, Stance logo creep on the socks, Under Armour logo creep coming to the jerseys, and an “open-minded” position on uniform ads. He’s not exactly building the proudest legacy, at least from a uniform standpoint.

(My thanks to Phil for bringing the Manfred interview to my attention.)

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Party reminder: Uni Watch party this Sunday, Feb. 19, 3pm, in the back room of the Douglass (which is the same place we used to meet at, Sheep Station, but with a new name). Phil will be there, I’ll be there, I may have theoretical T-shirts to sell, etc. Come join us!

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The Ticker
By Mike Chamernik

Baseball News: The Rockies updated their Twitter avatar for Spring Training. … Here’s a look at the Rockies in their new lighter shade of purple (from Phil). … The Mets sported the new BP pullovers yesterday (from Brian Erni). … New Orioles catcher Welington Castillo will wear No. 29 (from Andrew Cosentino). … A display outside of the Phillies’ Spring Training clubhouse reads “Ya Gotta Believe,” which was Tug McGraw’s slogan for the 1973 Mets. McGraw later won the World Series with the 1980 Phillies. The Mets responded to the Phils’ display by tweeting, “Ya gotta be kidding”. … Speaking of Mets mantras, fans at a high school basketball game in Texas may have borrowed a line from the 1986 song “Let’s Go Mets” (from Glenn Stern). … New road uniforms for Virginia Tech (from Andrew Cosentino). … Austin Peay will wear 1967 throwbacks as an alternate this year (from Josh Smith). … New 3D batting helmet logos for Mississippi State (from Phil). … Marlins manager Don Mattingly lifted the ban on players’ facial hair after one season. … Here’s a quiz that asks you to idenitfy the year that a given MLB uniform debuted (from Dan Cichalski). … New black alts and raised helmet logos for Northwestern.

NFL News: Someone got a tattoo of Donald Trump’s face with the Eagles’ logo as his hair (from Phil). … Vikings head coach Norm Van Brocklin had his jersey tucked into his slacks in this early-1960s photo (from Ray Hund). … Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat wore a football helmet as part of performance art piece in the late 1970s. … Harry Higgins found a Jimmy Graham jersey with an upside-down nameplate at a TJ Maxx near Seattle. … The Jets shared Shea Stadium with the Mets through 1983. During the baseball and football season overlap, the Jets placed their midfield logo on a portion of the infield dirt. Here’s another angle (from Jeff Flynn).

Hockey News: The Charlotte Checkers teased St. Patrick’s Day jerseys (from Thomas Harris). … Here’s a story from 1968 on notable NHL players who wear No. 9, such as Gordie Howe and Maurice Richard (from Jerry Wolper). … A writer who covers minor league hockey scored all of the jerseys in the ECHL. Here’s his ratings for the North, South, Central, and Mountain divisions (from Denny Majeske). … During the late 1960s, Penguins goalie Les Binkley wore eyeblack on his mask. He often went maskless, without eyeblack, as well (from Fred Teigen). … Yeshiva University has a very successful roller hockey team. Players wear helmets over their yarmulkes.

Basketball News: The Timberwolves wore black at home last night. … On Valentine’s Day 1990, Michael Jordan’s jersey was stolen from the locker room before a game in Orlando, so he wore a blank No. 12 jersey for the first half. Yesterday, Mitchell & Ness released the jersey as a new throwback. … The Nets honored Brazilian basketball legend Oscar Schmidt on Monday night. He wore No. 14 when he played pro ball in Brazil and Spain. Schmidt was drafted by the Nets in 1984 but never came over. He’s often called the best player to have never played in the NBA. … One observer ranked seven notable All-Star Game unis (from Phil). … Girl Scouts will receive Grizzlies patches at a game later this month. … When the Wizards wear their home whites, the logo on Otto Porter’s waistband has a red box around it, unlike his teammates (good spot by Robert Anderson). … Virginia Tech wore its black and pink Coaches vs. Cancer uniforms at Pitt last night (from Andrew Cosentino).

Soccer News: U.S. Soccer has unveiled a new red kit, which will be worn for the World Cup qualifier against Honduras on March 24. … In support of local voting rights, D.C. United replaced its jock tags with a patch of the District’s “Taxation Without Representation” license plate. The club had the slogan on the inside of the jersey collars last season (from Phil).

Grab Bag: The new logo for the Swiss Rugby Union uses the Euclid Flex font (from Gary Chanko). … The playing of a national anthem prior to a game doesn’t always go off perfectly.