The NBA is the most important basketball league in the world and perhaps, in terms of diffusion, visibility, and quality of its athletes, the first among all professional sports. Founded in 1946 and gone through various mergers with other rival leagues, over the years it has given way to champions such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and, going further back, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain or Jerry West.
But, as they say, champions come and go, and often in the NBA the same thing happens to teams, who move from city to city, change their names, die and are reborn; what remains indelible are the feats of the champions and, at times, the shirts they wore at that time.
And so for once we decided to focus precisely on the uniforms, the tank tops of the various franchises, so changing from year to year for merchandising reasons and yet, at least in some cases, so classic, simple and linear. We point out five of them, those in our way to see more details and memorable.
All the jerseys mentioned here can be found, used or in new replicas of the original models, quite easily on eBay, with prices ranging from 30 to 100 euros.
1. Los Angeles Lakers from 1960 to 1967
Jerry West’s shirt
Today the Los Angeles Lakers are one of the emblems of the NBA, with 16 titles (including 5 in the last 13 years) and having some of the most important Hollywood stars among the fans, such as Jack Nicholson. Not everyone knows, however, the meaning of the nickname of the Los Angeles team, that “Lakers” which seems to have little to do with the beaches of California.
In fact, the franchise was born not in the west, but almost in the east, to be precise in Detroit, where in 1946 the Gems were founded, a team with a very short life, since the following year it was transferred to Minneapolis and renamed in Lakers, literally “lacustrine”, due to the dozens of lakes and wetlands that surround the city.
The team remained in Minneapolis until 1960, winning the title 5 times, after which the owner Bob Short decided to move to Los Angeles while maintaining the old name.
For 7 years, the team’s colors remained those of the old franchise, with only a few graphic changes, in a blue and white that today seems to clash against the traditional yellow and purple we are used to.
Nonetheless, the old uniform, which was also worn by the legend Jerry West but did not bring much luck as the team struck four defeats in the final against the Boston Celtics, retains its charm today.
Also Read: NBA Teams: Names, Logos, List, Ranking
2. Washington Bullets from 1974 to 1983
The tank of the only Washington title
In Washington they are not particularly lucky with basketball: they have a team in the NBA since 1973 (the former Chicago Packers / Chicago Zephyrs / Baltimore Bullets, now called the Washington Wizards), but they have not won any division titles since 1979 and, since back then, they only passed the first round of the playoffs twice.
The 1970s, however, were a great decade for what were then called the Capitol Bullets and then the Washington Bullets.
At the end of the previous decade they had secured Wes Unseld in the draft, to which they had gradually added Elvin Hayes and Kevin Porter, thus arriving between 1974 and 1979 in three NBA finals, winning the title in 1978 against the Seattle SuperSonics (including other than a whisker from this five), who took their revenge the following year.
The shirt at the time, which also inspired the current uniform of the Wizards, clearly traced the American flag, with a blue belly and shorts (and white stars on the side) and then, going up, white and red horizontal stripes.
3. Atlanta Hawks from 1982 to 1992
Dominique Wilkins’ shirt
Even the history of the Atlanta Hawks is made up of shifts, falls, and ascents: founded as Buffalo Bisons in 1946, the team was transferred after just thirteen games to Moline, Illinois, becoming the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, a franchise that did not leave a great mark. in history.
After that, the team was relocated to Milwaukee for four years (assuming the definitive name of Hawks), in St. Louis for thirteen seasons (winning an NBA title and playing four finals in total), and finally in 1968 in Atlanta, the city of Coca-Cola. and the ’96 Olympics.
Since then the team has never gone beyond the Conference finals, but in the 80s it was able to defend itself very well at least in the regular season, also winning a Division title in 1987 thanks to the presence of Mike Fratello on the bench and above all of the small forward. Dominique Wilkins, nine-time all-star, two-time winner of the dunk competition and top scorer of the championship in 1986.
The shirt at the time, although simple, was among the most “iconic” of the 80s, playing on red, a yellow tending to orange and white.
4. Denver Nuggets from 1982 to 1993
The most loved and most hated uniform of the 80s
The history of the Denver team is also rather troubled, this time not for the movements from one metropolis to another but for the struggle between the leagues that occurred in the 70s.
Alongside the NBA, in fact, between 1967 and 1976 the American Basketball Association (ABA) appeared, a league with fewer teams and less visibility but which introduced some innovative rules and ideas (the three-point shot, the dunk competition, teams located in areas where there was a great tradition for university basketball but there was a lack of professional teams).
The Denver Rockets – the first name of this franchise – were founded in 1967 to participate in the ABA championship, where they remained until 1976, when, following the crisis in the league, they asked together with other teams (San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers and New York Nets) the move to the NBA.
In the second half of the ’70s and throughout the’ 80s the team livened up, playing well in the regular season (especially thanks to the stars Alex English – also top scorer in 1983 – and Kiki Vandeweghe) but not particularly leaving their mark on the play-offs.
The shirt generates mixed feelings, for its kitsch style that today makes it loved by nostalgics and hated by those who find it punched in the eye; however you see it, certainly the most aesthetically famous and discussed uniform of the 1980s.
Also Read: How Many Teams Are There in the NBA?
5. Chicago Bulls third jersey from 1995 to 1998
The shirt of the second three-peat
It is useless to tell you what the Chicago Bulls were in the 90s. They were the team of six titles in two tranches of three consecutive victories, they were the team of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen (and from 1995 to 1998 also of Dennis Rodman), were the team that most of all made global attention to the US championship.
The official shirt, in those years, was the same as today: red with black writing or, at home, white with red writing.
In 1995, however, the company introduced, as always in these cases for merchandising purposes, a third jersey, black with thin red stripes, a uniform that accompanied the Bulls to conquer the second three-peat, the three consecutive titles so far achieved only by the Lakers, from the Celtics and precisely from the Chicago team.
In 1998 the stripes were removed: since then the third jersey is simply black with red writing, the exact reverse of the away one, but the change so far has not brought too much luck, given that since 1998 there has been a series of unsuccessful seasons. interrupted only recently by the arrival of Derrick Rose on the field and Tom Thibodeau on the bench (with no less bad luck on the injury side).
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