Sports

The Utah Jazz’s new jerseys are awful — and clearly, the team knows that

The new Jazz rebrand is an absolute travesty. Indeed, it’s made the Jazz the laughingstock of the league.

Go ahead, scroll through the reactions. You’ll see Cleveland sports reporter Tim Bielik say “OK, Jazz, that’s a good prank. Now let’s see the real uniforms.” You’ll see SB Nation writer Demetrius Bell call them “objectively ugly” and “somehow both boring and hard to look at.” You’ll see Chicago sportswriter Michael Walton note the “Arena Football League vibes.”

You’ll see The Athletic’s Zach Harper write “No wonder Quin left.” Ouch.

But it’s hard to deny what they’re saying.

The highlighter yellow is garish. It makes the eyes water, even bleed. In combination with both white and black, it’s just a poor fit.

It gets worse, though. In chasing simplicity, the Jazz’s uniform designers make their black, white, and yellow jerseys minimalist to the extreme. Frankly, it looks like they spent about six minutes designing the jerseys; the black and yellow ones especially look like cheap reversible jerseys one might buy for a middle-school team.

So how in the world did we end up with this?

The defining moment of the Jazz’s rebrand happened last October at the Silicon Slopes conference. Jazz owners Ryan Smith and Dwyane Wade were on stage, and Smith said to Wade:

“I’ll never forget when you called me and you’re like, ‘Hey, my mom wants to know what the Jazz colors are, and we can’t figure it out.’”

Look, that’s a fair criticism: the Jazz have legitimately worn just about every color under the sun in the last few years. Here’s proof:

At first, Smith wanted the team to rebrand to simply black and white, but the league office and Nike refused that, seeing as the San Antonio Spurs and Brooklyn Nets already own that color scheme. Their compromise was this: the Jazz could go to black and white if they added a third primary color. So instead of choosing any one of the colors the team had already worn, he picked a new one: a unique highlighter yellow.

It is unique because other professional sports teams, frankly, are smart enough not to wear it. Sure, the Pittsburgh teams — along with the Boston Bruins — all wear some combination of black and yellow, but it’s a dark gold, not this. The brutal irony is that Smith, by rebranding in this way, has only added to the Jazz’s identity problems.

Those are the Jazz’s three primary jerseys — in Nike-speak, the team’s “Association,” “Icon,” and “Statement” uniforms. Since taking over, Nike has made it clear that it expects teams to keep the primary jerseys for multiple years.

And, unfortunately, there’s no life here, no soul. No tie to history, no vision of the future… just big numbers and big letters, screaming nothing at you.

It gets even worse with the non-jerseys. Jazz fans are being asked to buy some of the truly ugliest clothing imaginable. They want you to spend actual dollars, that you presumably worked for, for this shirt:

(@JazzNationNews via Twitter) A new Jazz shirt, on sale now.

Indeed, lighting dollars on fire would be better than purchasing these shorts:

(@Formal-Shoulder3216 via Reddit) Utah Jazz shorts on sale at Ross.

Everyone who was involved in this decision to make these the primary colors, to make these jerseys and products the vision of the franchise moving forward, should legitimately feel shame.

Here’s the funny thing: they clearly do.

When the team announced the new look on Friday, the focus was on none of these colors, but purple. The team’s press release headline doesn’t mention any of black, white, and yellow, and instead reads: “Purple is Back for Utah Jazz in 2022-23 Season and Will Be Cornerstone Color Moving Forward.” The team’s video reveal of the new jerseys tacked on the black, white, and yellow stuff at the end, apologetically.

Purple wasn’t the plan for the franchise’s rebrand, but became the plan after initial public reaction to the black/white/yellow scheme was exceptionally critical. But because they locked in that latter scheme with Nike, the purple jerseys are either the “City” jerseys or the “Classic” set, expected to change every year. That’s why the video also revealed two new other purple jerseys, to be worn in the 2023-24 season.

We’ll see if the Jazz can convince Nike and the league to move on from the white, yellow, and black Association, Icon, and Statement jerseys more quickly than teams are usually allowed to.

But there’s a reason the Jazz rebranded the rebrand: purple works. It ties to nearly every era of the team, both with the Mardi Gras colors from New Orleans and the mountain uniforms from the team’s NBA Finals heyday. Frankly, the players do look exceptionally good in purple uni as well.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) rebounds as the Utah Jazz host the Portland Trail Blazers, NBA basketball in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019.

That’s the silver lining here: at least one Jazz jersey looks good, and the team knows which one it is.

The rest of it? A nightmare — one that makes the organization look bad in more ways than one.

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