This is a guest post from longtime friend of P&T Robert Silverman. He knows a lot about uniforms and art and also he went to a French clown college. - Joe
NBA teams have been churning out reveals of their brand-spanking new duds in quick succession this week, whether it’s via inadvertent NBA2k leaks or heavily-produced and at times overwrought videos, using marketing, #brand-saturated language that seems as if it was culled straight from some glossy brochures sitting on a desk at the local state tourism board. (Yes, we’re shooting some side-eye at you, Indiana Pacers.)
The odds were against the Knicks engaging in a full-on redesign, but it was safe to assume that they’d tweak the team’s look just a little bit, if only to confirm with the standard Nike design template used by all 30 NBA teams. Thanks to a few photos and videos from today’s rookie photo shoot that have been burbling up on social media, we now know what they are.
Without further ado, let’s rate some laundry!
No changes at all, save for the addition of the Nike swoosh, and the lack of corporate sponsor patch (for now.) At first blush, though, it did seem as if the gray had been eliminated from both the “NEW YORK” wordmark and the collar. In this brief clip of Frankie Smokes, via the Knicks’ official Twitter account, it looks like it’s just white and orange, right?
But if you zoom in on this photo of Ntilikina posing with a Knicks-loving youth who is rocking the old uniform, you’ll see that the gray trim is, in fact, still there:
A bit of Knicks uniform history: The last time the Knicks revamped their wardrobe in 2012, they dumped the clumsy black piping that had been added in 1996—a part of the decades-long Black For Black’s Sake uniform trend—adding painterly dashes of light gray instead. That the gray trim was more or less invisible to anyone watching the team play only speaks to how unnecessary it was to begin with. I do not like it, is what I’m saying, and I wish they’d taken advantage of the opportunity to make it go away. Chalk up the fact that at first glance I thought the gray was gone to wishful thinking.
They’ve also kept the rounded collar. That was in question. Thanks to Nike’s stylistic diktats, there are only three choices available collar-wise, with many teams going with a v-neck collar. (As of now, it seems as if only the Celtics, Bulls, and Knicks will be sporting the traditional rounded collar this season.)
Still, it could have been much worse. It’s hard to tell whether the teams themselves or Nike are at the top of the pecking order for all of these reboots and how much influence one has over the other, but it’s so easy to transform a classic look into something that more closely resembles a cheap replica jersey. For example, check out the new “SPURS” wordmark.
It’s bad, right? Especially when compared to the threads they were rocking 2016-17. Compare the above set to this:
Old letters were closer together at the base. They all angled in slightly as it went down. These are more evenly spaced top to bottom. pic.twitter.com/M4lhxjH02y— Graydon Gordian (@MrGordian) August 11, 2017
Not to plunge into another blog-worthy subject altogether, but as a whole, it seems as if Nike having to execute minor changes and full-on rebrands for the entire league has led to some less-than-satisfying new threads. Which, given the size of the job, is sort of understandable, if you want to be charitable to a mega-corporation that relies on near-slave labor.
Save for the Pacers, though, it’s hard to think of one new set that’s been universally seen as a major upgrade, even if they’re selling it with dialog from “Hoosiers” that the editors cut out because it was “a bit much.” There’s a reason teams often spend two years figuring this stuff out, and the new Nike-fied NBA is evidence as to why.
What’s more, Madison Square Garden had the opportunity to rectify their original aesthetic sin. Namely, flattening out the “NEW YORK” wordmark in 2012. Let’s put Melo in the 2011 throwbacks next to him in a Knicks uniform of recent vintage:
Look at these two images. One is from 2011, the other from 2016. You tell me which "NEW YORK" is better and more visually arresting? pic.twitter.com/gdoMRQAyXh— Robert Silverman (@BobSaietta) August 8, 2017
By all that is holy and good, it’s impossible to argue that the duds on the right are better than the left. The original wordmark is cleaner, more striking and far more daring. It not only pops visually, it was one of the iconic wordmarks and/or logos in all of New York sports, alongside the Yankees’ interlocking “NY,” the script “Mets,” and the diagonal drop-shadowed “Rangers.”
And [very Charlton Heston voice] You maniacs! You blew it up! [drops to my knees, pounds sand] Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!
Thank you for letting me vent my spleen and get all that uni-related bile out of my system. I feel much better.
Anyway, there are some actual changes to be found. The Knicks have futzed with the shorts a bit, adding a diagonal continuation of the trim at the bottom which jukes upwards and dies after a few inches. This, uh, represents our collective blood pressure spiking every time our most beloved and Largest Adult Son, Kristaps, tumbles to the floor following a massive dunk, or something.
Frank and the rest of th rookie class pic.twitter.com/3kVw8efcjS— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) August 11, 2017
With the addition of that jagged little edge, though, the Knicks’ logo needs to find a new home. I could be wrong, but judging from the grainy image below, it’s scooted a smidge closer to the front of the shorts, which is where it’s been situated for the bulk of the team’s uniform history. That’s kinda cool.
But again, how much prettier would the shorts look if say, the piping continued up the side? Please excuse my MS Paint-level doodling, but look:
That’s significantly better, no? Also, cheer up, Frank. You look a little nervous.
Oh, and though it’s a tad difficult to pick out, the Knicks-in-a-ball logo has been added to the center of their orange belt trim. That’s nice.
All in all, a few perfectly fine if barely noticeable alterations to the Knicks’ look, even if they duffed the opportunity to right some unimaginable aesthetic wrongs. And only a certified lunatic that obsesses over a professional basketball team’s clothing--i.e. me--could possibly get boiling mad both on and offline about them.
So, friends, what do you think of the Knicks’ “new” 2017-18 uniforms? Sound off in the comments.
UPDATE: Alex Wolfe noticed that the formerly truncated orange, white and [shudder] grey shoulder trim now appears to extend much further than before. This too is a good thing.
Here's the visual evidence: