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Shades of the past in the Knicks' new alternate uniforms


2017 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

This article was written by Knicks fashion historian Bob Silverman

Thanks to the screencapping handiwork of a Twitterer named @JMoneyMikita, all 30 NBA alternate ™ uniforms were leaked on Wednesday, including those for our beloved ‘Bockers. You will be shocked to learn that the aesthetic brain geniouses who left team’s current look more or less unchanged have not cobbled together some new radical or even vaguely interesting design.

Here it is.

This pixilated, low-res image was snatched from a video game, so there may be a few differences between this and the actual product, whenever it’s officially unveiled. All in all, it’s pretty meh. In lieu of the blue-orange-[shudder] grey trim on the shoulders and collar, it alternates daintily between blue, white and orange. There’s a precedent tucked away in a dusty corner of the Knicks’ uniform history: From 1968 to 1971, the home uniform utilized this same pattern, though the stripes are much closer together. They wouldn’t switch to the familiar blue and orange trim until 1972 and remained so for the next two decades.

Here it is, in all its glory:

And here’s the familiar trim, resting on a familiar set of broad, rugged shoulders:

To be fair, the Statement™ trimming in and of itself is pretty, and I’m assuming it’s actually blue-white-orange-blue-white and not gray. There’s always a chance of needless gray, and if you squint it seems like it might be present in the wordmark.

The same tricolor pattern extends to the wordmark and number. Which, come on. It’s just overkill. Use it for the trim and shoulders or the numbers and wordmark but not all four. The resulting combination just renders any one element bland and uninteresting, like whomever--or whatever team of dead-eyed corporate decision makers--was in charge found one element that all the various bespoke executives could agree on and just ran with it. Blech. I mean, it’s fine. Everything is fine. Click the link above and scope out what the Jazz and the Clippers will be wearing, and you can see how much worse this could have all turned out.

What we still don’t know is whether they’ll stick with the solid blue belt on the shorts, or whether the trimming will pop up there. I’d be willing to wager a good chunk of arable land that that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Hopefully, they won’t use it for the nameplate, because three-colored nameplates are always illegible and cramped, kind of like the “NEW YORK” wordmark on the front! Goddangit, now I’m getting mad. Again.

They better just roll with a pure throwback for the team’s fourth jersey or else I’m gonna impotently shake my fist in the general direction of Madison Square Garden. [impotently shakes fist]

Oddly enough, though, MSG did give this design an oh-so-brief test run a few years back. On media day in 2010, the team’s numbers were outlined. There was no announcement or cutesy leaks via various social media platforms, let alone glossy press releases shot through with boilerplate branded language about how the design reflected Knicks’ newfound cromulent energy, one that embiggens us all. It just happened. Which seems both quaint and practically of impossible, staring back it from the strange and savage year of our Lord 2017. I kind of miss that.

So, yeah. Here are a big ol’ heap of official NBA photos from New York’s sepia-toned past, all of which feature a design that never made its way onto the court, for reasons unknown, only to be revived seven years after the fact. While we’re here, i highly recommend checking out the snapshots. Wilson Chandler knows that another boy has a balloon; the Andy & Landry Show wasn’t even a twinkle in their rookie eyes; Anthony Randolph’s tremendous upside potential was still a thing (He’s only 28!); and Danilo Gallinari revealed that he’s part adorable performing seal.

Damn, that team was fun.