The best example would be the Blue Jays trotting out the ol’ baby blues for throwback Fridays. It channels the pride from their World Series days, and it allows fans to support the team and feel stylish instead of wearing the current look.
As much as I love my Jays and will root for them until I die, the edgier, angry-looking jay is tacky, and is already starting to feel dated. Not to mention that you’d think the blue jays would wear blue. Just sayin’.
Some teams have even started to use their throwbacks as their everyday uniforms. In 1996, the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres abandoned some of the sweetest unis going for new colours and a new logo after receiving new ownership. Since then they had a short stint from 06 to 2010 wearing what had to be some of the ugliest Jerseys in the history of the league, with the infamously unpopular “buffaslug” on the front.
They have since seen the error of their ways, (mostly due to the great reception the throwbacks received) and are now once again rocking the “French Connection” era jerseys fulltime.
Basketball is no exception to this. As of this season, the Cavs have returned to the original wine and gold jerseys from the 70’s. (Too bad Lebron didn’t stick around instead of playing in those Heat jerseys, which I think are going to look pretty dated pretty quick).
The Jazz have been occasionally busting out a decidedly more Jazzy shout out to their New Orleans days. The Golden State Warriors current jerseys are designed to be reminiscent of their San Francisco days, and have a classic appeal to them.
The Toronto Raptors are even getting in on the act, paying homage to the short-lived Huskies of 1946 and donning their old jerseys on the court.
I’m not a big fan of the Raptors’ current on-court look. It’s cold and sterile, and lacks heart. Toronto’s uniform will feel dated soon, and it lacks a classic quality.
A decade or two removed from now do you think fans will be thinking fondly of the Raptors 2011 throwbacks, hoping to see them on the court again? I don’t. I’ve always felt that people who design uniforms should ask themselves that question. It’s the measuring stick for a memorable uniform.
What I would like to see from the Raptors is a return to their original jerseys from when they first broke into the league. Some might argue that the original jerseys are tacky, but let me explain myself.
Let me take you on a trip back with me to the mid 90’s.
It was a magical time to be watching basketball. I was growing up watching the best years of the greatest to ever play the game. The Bulls, in addition to being the best, were also among the sharpest dressed teams in the NBA: The red, white and black, and the bull-head logo. It was graphic and simple, and it looked mean and edgy, in a cool and classic way. Thanks to Jordan, that uniform is something I will always associate with the 90’s. It’s no wonder they haven’t really altered their look in 40 years.
The 80’s had been the dawn of cool sports advertising, making athletes even larger then the legends they were before. By the time the 90’s rolled around, Nike ads featuring Michael Jordan were on during commercial breaks between Saturday morning cartoons and inserted throughout our comic books and our Sports Illustrated for Kids. Flip to another channel and you could see Charles Barkley going one on one with Godzilla! It pretty much didn’t get any cooler than that. You’d head down to your local arcade and what was the longest line up for? You know it was NBA Jam.
It was PJ Phil on Canada’s YTV’ show “The After School Zone” who first told me the NBA was finally coming to Canada.
This was amazing news. We loved shooting around the basketball court, pretending to be Jordan, or Barkley, or Penny Hardaway. Basketball is a sport that’s built on it’ superstars, and finally us Canadian Kids would have a Hometown team to root for. But what were they going to be called?
They had dismissed the suggestion of carrying on the banner of the old Huskies on the grounds that it would be difficult to come up with a logo that wouldn’t be too similar to the Minnesota Timberwolves, They seemed to have it narrowed down to 10 choices: Beavers, Bobcats, Dragons, Grizzlies, Hogs, Raptors, Scorpions, T-Rex, Tarantulas, and Terriers.
In1993 Steven Spielberg released Jurassic Park, a blockbuster film that reaffirmed what I have always known: it doesn’t get much cooler then dinosaurs. And while the Tyrannosaurus Rex had a pretty prominent role, the film shined a bigger spotlight on the Velociraptor.
Raptors seemed like the clear choice for the team. Now what remained to be seen was the uniform.
It was purple, and it had stripes that had been scratched down the jersey as if with the claws of a raptor. Even the font looked as if it had been carved into the shirt. And then there was the Red Raptor.
All decked out in basketball gear, he had this cartoony quality, and he still looked tough. It looked great. At a time when basketball culture was at one of its highest points, the Raptors had burst onto the scene wearing something that perfectly embodied the era.
I always felt it was a shame that the Raptors abandoned these jerseys shortly after Vince Carter joined the team. In 1999 they dropped them for jerseys that were meant to look a little more slick, but they lacked pizzazz. The best years of the franchise were yet to come and it was a shame that the jerseys had not lasted long enough to see Vince and the gang winning playoff series and giving the contenders a run for their money.
Throwbacks allow franchises to revisit the good times. Teams try to go back to what may be considered a golden era for the sport. While some may feel we aren’t far enough removed from 1993, I would argue that it doesn’t get much more golden then the Jordan days. The early 90’s were very good times for basketball. The sport had a hipness to it that the other sports lacked.
I would love to see DeRozan rocking the old purple and silver. It would bring me back to a time when I was really excited about the Raptors. And, no matter what anyone says, I think it’s a sweet jersey.