With the NBA season just around the corner, it’s time to start gearing up, figuratively and literally. Buying gear to support your favorite team is a yearly tradition for many NBA fans, but you can’t just buy anything. You have to put thought into it. Purchasing an NBA jersey is a major statement and a serious commitment of resources and fashion choices. Because jerseys are sleeveless (for now), you can’t wear them in public in most circumstances, unless you’ve got a shirt under them. And even that is dicey.

They aren’t cheap, either. You have to get the “swingman” option, which is usually around $90. The cheaper replicas look tacky and the authentics are outrageously expensive. But a well-chosen jersey can be worn with pride and garner the eternal admiration of your peers.

With that in mind, this is a comprehensive guide to all NBA jersey-buying options. No matter what team you root for, we’ve got you covered. Trying to pick out a player on the current roster? On the fence about whether to get it in home, away or an alternate style? Want to get a throwback but need help deciding what’s too obvious and what’s too kitsch-y? We’re here to help.


Current Player: The Hawks have nearly completed the process of turning over their entire roster since Danny Ferry took over as GM in 2012. They traded Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams last summer and let Josh Smith walk in free agency this year. The only players signed long-term are Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver. Of those, Horford is the best pick — he’s perennially underrated by everyone except Hawks fans and League Pass junkies, but he’s one of the best big men in the league. Wearing a Horford jersey says, “I’m an enlightened NBA fan.”

Style: The problem with committing to a current player is that most of the Hawks’ jerseys are kind of boring. They’re not bad by any means, but they’re decidedly middle of the pack. Odds are, any Hawks jersey in the current style is going to end up taking up space in your closet. Luckily, they wore a throwback a couple of times last season to their mid-’90s, Dikembe Mutombo-era “giant cartoon bird” jerseys. And they were outstanding. Get one of those if you can find it.

Daniel Shirley, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: There aren’t many better jerseys than the Hawks’ late-1980s/early-1990s getup, and the defining player from that era was Dominique Wilkins. There’s no going wrong there.

Nick Arroyo, Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Current Player: With Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett gone, the Celtics’ best and longest-tenured player is Rajon Rondo. Rondo is as divisive as any player in the league, a brilliant passer and terrific point-guard defender with a maddening reluctance to make any sort of play for himself on offense. Getting a Rondo jersey is a conversation starter, no matter what. There are a couple of problems, though. First of all, he’s coming off a torn ACL, and we don’t know when he’s expected to return to the lineup this year or how effective he’ll be. Second, he’s been in all sorts of trade rumors every offseason and trade deadline for the last four years, and with the Celtics in hardcore rebuild mode right now, this might be the year Danny Ainge finally pulls the trigger.

If you decide Rondo is too risky, your options are somewhat limited. An Avery Bradley jersey says, “I appreciate defense.” A Kris Humphries jersey says, “I really can’t stand Kim Kardashian,” which is a sentiment everyone can get behind, but seriously, don’t get a Kris Humphries jersey. Just don’t. Jared Sullinger is the Celtics’ most promising young player, but his back problems make that a gamble too. Unless you really believe in Kelly Olynyk, you might be better off waiting a year to see how the draft lottery shakes out. You just may walk into an opportunity to buy an Andrew Wiggins or a Jabari Parker.

Style: There’s not much of a choice here. The Celtics have taken marketing advice from Coca-Cola and the New York Yankees — they’ve barely changed their look at all over the years. The jerseys Bill Russell and Tommy Heinsohn wore in the 1950s are nearly identical to the ones they wear today. Just avoid any of their attempts at a third alternate (namely the black-on-green and gold-on-green) and go with either the classic home or away.

Soobum Im, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Tommy Heinsohn, John Havlicek, Bob Cousy, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge, Paul Pierce (although that’s weird, since he’s still in the league), Dennis Johnson, Sam Jones — take your pick. The Celtics aren’t exactly lacking in Hall of Famers.

Ed Nessen, AP


Current Player: The Nets have plenty of big names to choose from, but you want to be careful. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are off limits unless you also would have been okay with wearing a Hakeem Olajuwon Raptors jersey or a Karl Malone Lakers jersey. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with getting a Joe Johnson jersey, but it’s pretty unexciting. Deron Williams is too obvious. Brook Lopez is the move, especially if you’re in the demographic that appreciates both elite offensive big-man play and comic books.

Style: Both of the Nets’ post-Brooklyn-move jerseys are solid, but the road blacks are the better bet.

Chris Humphreys, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: You could bridge the old with the new by getting a jersey of new Nets head coach Jason Kidd, but did anybody actually like the latter-day New Jersey Nets uniforms? The choice has to be Dr. J‘s timeless New York Nets ABA duds.

Jim Cummins, Getty Images


Current Player: This roster is beyond ugly, even with this summer’s signing of Al Jefferson. There’s nobody to point to as the face of the franchise going forward. Kemba Walker put up terrific numbers on an awful team last season, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a promising young defender with one of the most brutally ugly jump shots ever. Even Jefferson has an opt-out in his contract after two years, when he’ll still be young enough to command big bucks from a better team. The Bobcat signed for the most years is Gerald Henderson, who just re-upped for four years in July. Henderson is a solid player, but that jersey will be useless in two years when he’s traded and gets to fulfill his destiny of being a role player on a contender. Congolese center Bismack Biyombo hasn’t developed the way the Bobcats hoped he would over the last two years, but he has a great name and speaks five languages. That’s as good a reason as anything to get his jersey, considering who he’s up against.

Style: Last season, the Bobcats underwent the third uniform change of their short existence. The new ones aren’t anything to write home about, but at least they’re not as garish as their first ones. Just wait a year for them to become the Hornets again. I promise you the uniforms will be better.

Tom Szczerbowski, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: You’re not a real Bobcats fan unless you have the orange Adam Morrison alternate.

Elsa, Getty Images


Current Player: Derrick Rose is a safe but uncreative choice, and Luol Deng might not have much of a shelf life (he’s a free agent next summer). Joakim Noah is a great pick, and so is Taj Gibson if you want a throwback to the “Bench Mob” of the 2011 playoffs. The best long-term investment would be Jimmy Butler, a League Pass favorite who’s going into his third season and seems poised to take over Deng’s “LeBron stopper” role whenever Tom Thibodeau eventually succeeds in grinding Deng’s bones to dust.

Style: The Bulls’ jerseys have been unchanged since the mid-1980s, which is fine because they’re both excellent. Whites run a greater risk of staining, so go with the red.

Brace Hemmelgarn, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: A Michael Jordan jersey is a cliche, but there are two ways to make it work. You could get his No. 45 jersey, from his first post-baseball comeback in 1995, when his iconic 23 was still retired. Or, better yet, get a rookie MJ jersey — the one with the cursive font and asymmetrical number on the front. That’s a classic.

Michael Jordan (45): Ron Frehm, AP / Michael Jordan (23): Robert Lewis, Getty Images


Current Player: Kyrie Irving is going to be the face of the Cavs for a long time. Getting his jersey now will still get you in before he crosses over to Derrick Rose/Blake Griffin/Kevin Durant-style ubiquity. If you’re a Syracuse fan, go with Dion Waiters. If you’re Canadian, Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett are both viable options. If you pick your favorite players based on their hair and don’t mind a bit (by which I mean a lot) of injury risk, Anderson Varejao is solid. But realistically, it has to be Kyrie.

Style: All three jerseys the Cavs unveiled after The Decision are strong, but the gold alternates are the best of the bunch.

Bob Donnan, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: It’s too soon to go for LeBron, and besides, most of the jerseys the Cavs wore during his time there were awful. Go for this 1987-89 Mark Price. Not only was he one of the greatest and most underrated shooters of his era, but the orange-on-blue color scheme and simple, classy CAVS lettering with the V doubling as a net were terrific.



Current Player: If your heart is set on a jersey that have it all, go for Monta Ellis. Second-year forward Jae Crowder is the kind of player that bloggers really want to be good, but it’s too early to know if that will happen. Other than that, your options are Dirk Nowitzki and…well, really just Dirk.

Style: Neither of the Mavs’ regular jerseys are anything special. Mark Cuban has been crowdsourcing ideas for a redesign, but that won’t be coming until 2015. In the meantime, the dark blue alternate is the best choice.

Soobum Im, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Jersey: If you can find one of the short-lived metallic silver alternates from 2003, especially an Antoine Walker, you can’t really justify not buying it.

Kevork Djansezian, AP


Current Player: The Nuggets fired Coach of the Year George Karl, let Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri leave for Toronto and let Andre Iguodala sign with Golden State. They may be committed to mediocrity for the time being, but there are still some solid options for jerseys. Second-year French forward Evan Fournier showed flashes during his rookie season, and he wears number 94, which is a number no one else has ever worn. Hold off on Danilo Gallinari until you see how he looks after he comes back from his torn ACL. Don’t go for new signee Nate Robinson because you’ll hate yourself every time you wear it unless he happens to be going off for 30 that night. Kenneth Faried, a relentless rebounder with terrific dreads, is a can’t-miss choice. If you’re a Segway enthusiast that likes players who are physical freaks with questionable basketball IQ’s but unquestionable virtuosity at Twitter (and really, who isn’t?), there’s only one real option, and he’d prefer if you called him Pierre, thank you very much..

Style: Gold skyline alternates. End of discussion.

Chris Humphreys, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: Those gold skyline jerseys are an homage to the late-’80s/early-’90s rainbow skyline uniforms, which are one of the all-time great jerseys by any measure. Alex English was the Nuggets’ signature player during those years. It’s a no-brainer.

Susan Ragan, AP


Current Player: The Pistons signed Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith this summer, but  it’s worth waiting to see how they pan out before you decide whether or not you want to hitch your wagon to them. Rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has the best name in the NBA, so there’s that. An Andre Drummond purchase works great as a political protest against the UConn big man’s being consistently buried on the bench. Greg Monroe would appreciate somebody recognizing how good he is for once.

Style: The Pistons’ just-introduced dark blue “MOTOR CITY” alternates are seriously fantastic.

@detroitpistons, Twitter

Retro Player: Get the immortal teal Grant Hill. And pick up a case of Sprite while you’re at it.

David Zalubowski, AP


Current Player: If you think Stephen Curry is too predictable (which he’s not, but it’s understandable that someone would feel that way after his monster playoffs), there are plenty of other good choices. Klay Thompson is the other half of the so-called “greatest shooting backcourt ever.” Andre Iguodala, the team’s big free-agent prize, is a lockdown defender and should make his presence known right away. Harrison Barnes is going to be a Sixth Man of the Year candidate for years to come. Kent Bazemore is the undisputed king of the bench celebration. This is a young, likable, deep roster. There’s no going wrong whatever you choose.

Style: The Warriors currently have the best jerseys in the NBA. Period. Point blank. As long as you avoid the sleeves, either the home or away jersey is going to become the best-looking jersey you own.

Brett Davis, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: The reason the Warriors’ current jerseys are so great is because they’re a modern update of the peerless “THE CITY” San Francisco Warriors uniforms from the 1960s and ’70s. The giant Golden Gate Bridge logo on the front is the rare graphic-heavy jersey design that isn’t cartoonish overkill, a la the late ’90s. Rick Barry and Nate Thurmond are your best bets here. Even if you’re not a Warriors fan, some form of this jersey is a necessity.



Current Player: Resist the temptation to get a Dwight Howard. It just screams “frontrunner.” James Harden is the clear choice if you have facial hair. Omer Asik is a good under-the-radar choice, but Howard’s presence means he could be traded at any time. Donatas Motiejunas is only okay if you already knew who he was. Chandler Parsons is probably the best choice, a second-round pick with lottery-level talent who’s going to be around for a long time.

Style: The Rockets have great jerseys all around, but their red and gold alternates are tops.

Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: You could go one of two ways here. The first option is to pay tribute to the Rockets’ back-to-back championship teams in 1994 and ’95, starring Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. They’re both Hall of Famers, and those uniforms were great.

Clyde Drexler (22): AP / Hakeem Olajuwon (34): USA TODAY Sports

The other option would be to scour eBay for one of the legendary pinstriped cartoon jerseys the Rockets introduced in the late 1990s. It was an “everybody’s doing it” thing that everyone involved probably wishes never happened, but the uniforms that Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen wore during their brief Rockets tenures hold up surprisingly well.

Charles Barkley (4): Pat Sullivan, AP / Scottie Pippen (33): Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY Sports


Current Player: Like the Warriors, Indiana has plenty of great options. Paul George is a superstar in the making who held his own against LeBron in this year’s Eastern Conference Finals. David West is the veteran enforcer. Lance Stephenson had a breakout year and is an intriguing wildcard. But the pick here is Roy Hibbert, the Pacers’ fearsome man in the middle, sometime Parks & Recreation guest star and all-around funny guy. Wear this while playing Call of Duty or chugging Gatorade for extra authenticity.

Style: The Pacers’ regular jerseys are solid, but not as good as the throwbacks they wore this season to their turn-of-the-century pinstriped uniforms.

Pat Lovell, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: Reggie Miller is the iconic Pacer, but wearing his jersey in 2013 takes on a greater meaning than simply paying tribute to his greatness on the court. You’re also endorsing his current work on TNT’s broadcast team, which…no. The point guard on those classic ’90s teams was Mark Jackson, who’s enjoying a renaissance as the head coach of the Warriors. The Pacers have always had great uniforms, but their ’90s jerseys, those synonymous with their playoff battles with the Knicks, are tops.

Bill Kostroun, USA TODAY Sports


Current Player: There are only two choices. The Clippers are currently enjoying their greatest stretch of relevance in franchise history, and that’s due entirely to Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. Both of the central tenants of are perennial All-Stars and all-around likable players. Eric Bledsoe would have been a good left-field choice, but he got traded to the Suns this summer. DeAndre Jordan is an option, but you’d be gambling $90 that he finally starts to improve. Paul and Griffin are going to have their numbers hanging in the rafters at Staples Center one day, something no other Clipper can ever lay claim to.

Style: The Clips’ red and blue jerseys are both solid choices. If any team needs a total rebrand, complete with name change and new logo and uniforms simply to distance themselves from a less-than-stellar history, it’s the Clippers. But that’s not going to happen as long as Donald Sterling is in the picture.

Blake Griffin (32): USA TODAY Sports / Chris Paul (3): USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: The Buffalo Braves moved to San Diego in 1978 and became the Clippers. Their first star was Bill Walton, fresh off winning a title with the legendary 1977 Blazers. He continued to battle injuries during his time with the Clips, but he’s the most recognizable name from that era. And man, were those jerseys sweet.

Porter Binks, USA TODAY Sports


Current Player: The only way Kobe Bryant isn’t a cop-out is if you get a No. 8 throwback. Steve Nash is too old and injured. A Pau Gasol jersey would be a nice gesture of solidarity for one of the nicest humans in basketball that takes entirely too much backlash from fans. Other than that, cross your fingers for Andrew Wiggins.

Style: The classic home golds are the best. I’ve never been crazy about the Sunday whites, but the road purples are fine. The black “Hollywood Nights” jerseys they teased last week look incredibly promising, but unless the Lakers surprise everybody and make the playoffs, they run the risk of becoming a novelty from a lost season. So just stick with the gold.

Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: In the late ’90s, the Lakers slightly altered their jerseys to a flatter style of lettering. It’s still good, but so much of the NBA’s history was written in the old-school raised-lettering Lakers jerseys that they have to get the nod. It’s hard to go wrong with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Jerry West. Magic Johnson is too common. Shaq is still too recent to count as a throwback. Dwight Howard would be a funny novelty play in the right circumstances, but Dennis Rodman is trying too hard. One terrific outside-the-box pick is James Worthy. His basketball credentials (Hall of Famer, 1988 Finals MVP, an integral piece of three championship teams) are unassailable, yet he doesn’t have nearly the name recognition of teammates Kareem and Magic.

Lennox McLendon, AP


Current Player: There are two ways to go here. The Grizzlies’ best player is Marc Gasol, arguably the top center in the NBA right now (at least until we know whether the Rockets are getting the injury-plagued Dwight Howard of last season or the force of nature from 2011), with one of the most aesthetically beautiful games in the league. But the player who embodies the grit-and-grind philosophy of the Grizzlies — the team that turns “Whoop That Trick” into a call to arms and has a theme song penned by Three 6 Mafia’s DJ Paul — is Tony Allen. Allen gets bonus points for being utterly incredible at Twitter.

Style: I’ve always been partial to the Grizz’ powder-blue alternate uniforms, but their regular navy road jersey does the job too.

Marc Gasol (33): Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports / Tony Allen (9): Debby Wong, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: Absolutely anyone from the original Vancouver Grizzlies. Their original jerseys were the hands-down best use of teal in NBA history, even better than the Pistons’. Bryant “Big Country” Reeves is the obvious pick, and a Shareef Abdur-Rahim jersey may be possible to track down as well.

Bryant Reeves (50): Nick Procaylo, AP / Shareef Abdur-Rahim: Paul Sakuma, AP


Current Player: If you’re buying a new Miami Heat jersey in 2013, there’s no way to avoid being called a frontrunner. If you’re fine with that, the Heat have the best player in the world in LeBron James. Dwyane Wade is the favorite of longtime fans out of the Big Three. A Chris Bosh jersey would be an incredibly refreshing change of pace and will probably make people hate you less. Not only are his contributions on the court horribly underappreciated, but wearing his jersey is spitting in the face of every played-out joke about his masculinity that has ever been tweeted. Chris “Birdman” Andersen is as close to an under-the-radar choice as you can get with this team, but you’ve got pint-sized competition. If your fatal character flaw is that you’re an incurable optimist, there’s always Greg Oden.

Style: It’s not that Miami’s regular jerseys are necessarily bad, but their alternates and throwbacks are so great that it’s tough to fathom passing one of them up. If you’re going to get a LeBron, go with this fantastic red ’90s-style throwback. It’s still frontrunning, but at least it’s not something you can get at Target.

Tom Szczerbowski, USA TODAY Sports

Love them or hate them, no team has ever made better use of monochromatic jerseys than the Heat. Their all-black alternates have become something of a Darth Vader version of the Lakers’ Sunday whites, and their all-whites are a nice change of pace as well. Even the all-red ones they wore on Christmas Day for the NBA’s incredibly ill-advised all-monochrome theme were good enough to redeem a terrible idea.

Chris Bosh (1): Steve Mitchell, USA TODAY Sports / Chris Andersen (11): Steve Mitchell, USA TODAY Sports / Dwyane Wade (3): Steve Mitchell, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: The Heat have only existed since 1988, but they already have a long history of playoff success. The ’90s were defined by their postseason battles with the Knicks, and the guy who held his own against Patrick Ewing was Alonzo Mourning. The Heat’s ’90s jerseys, with raised lettering like the pre-Shaq Lakers jerseys, look great in black and white in addition to the reds they brought back in 2013.

Stephen Schaeffer, AP


Current Player: Misspelled tattoos or no, LARRY SANDERS! is the best choice. He’s a shot-blocking machine who’s quickly developing into one of the best rim protectors out there. And he just signed a long-term extension, so you won’t have to worry about this jersey becoming obsolete anytime soon.

Style: The Bucks’ current color scheme evokes Christmas, but sadly, they aren’t good enough to get one of those marquee holiday game slots. Still, the sharp lettering on their jerseys makes them unique. The green road jersey is the strongest of the set.

Steve Mitchell, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: The Bucks took to the late-1990s trend of draping a giant cartoon logo on the front of a jersey with aplomb. Their green-and-purple deer jersey from this era was an all-timer. They brought them back for a few games this season, and there isn’t a single good reason why they shouldn’t wear them all the time. Ray Allen and Vin Baker were the touchstones for that period.

Tom Strattman, AP


Current Player: Kevin Love is the best power forward in the league when healthy, but his contract is up in two years, so the prospect of a trade will always be hanging over Wolves fans’ heads. If you buy a Nikola Pekovic jersey, nobody will mess with you ever, because Pek is terrifying. But in the end, it’s impossible to resist Ricky Rubio. Just try.

Style: The Wolves’ current jerseys only feature their shortened nickname, which is unfortunate. Still, the black alternates are sharp.

Russ Isabella, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: It says a lot about Kevin Garnett that Timberwolves fans hold no ill will towards him even after he engineered a trade to the Celtics in 2007. His number will undoubtedly be retired at the Target Center when he’s done, and he’s one of the five or so greatest players of his generation. It’s an easy choice. Any of their jerseys from his time there look great — they improve on the current duds by displaying the full nickname and using trees to color the waist, neck and sleeve holes. Any of them are great. I prefer the road blues.

John Stennes, AP


Current Player: Get down with the ‘Brow. Anthony Davis is still the future of the newly-rebranded Pelicans, a player with the potential to win multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards. If you gravitate towards point guards, they traded for 2013 All-Star Jrue Holiday in June. Eric Gordon is too much of an injury risk, but Ryan Anderson and the newly signed Tyreke Evans are good choices. The only one to avoid is Austin Rivers.

Style: The Pelicans unveiled their new uniforms in August, and they’re seriously underwhelming, considering how cool and unique the new name and logo are. Due to league rules, they won’t be able to introduce a third alternate until next offseason. The best advice is to wait for that before making your decision.

Derick E. Hingle, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: Not for nothing are the Charlotte Hornets the face of the snapback-and-Starter-jacket nostalgia boom. Their combination of purple, turquoise and white is utterly unique. There are plenty of choices here: Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson, the immortal one-time All-Star Jamaal Magloire. I’d go with Baron Davis, who bridges the gap between Charlotte and New Orleans and was once one of the most exciting point guards in the league. Buying a Hornets jersey as a Pelicans fan could get confusing, though, since the Bobcats are reclaiming the name in 2014. Plus, Hornets gear has become so ubiquitous among basketball hipsters that it’s lost a lot of its luster. Which is unfortunate, since, again, these jerseys were terrific.

Peter Cosgrove, AP


Current Player: Carmelo Anthony is fine but unimaginative. Amar’e Stoudemire is a few knee surgeries beyond being a real option. Getting a J.R. Smith jersey is only a good idea if you’re buying an armored military truck to go with it. A Tyson Chandler is a terrific short-term investment but a questionable long-term one. For the best combination of youth, upside, long-term relevance and #swayyy, it’s Iman Shumpert all the way.

Style: Either the classic blue or white are fine. Stay away from any alternates. They’re mostly gimmicks.

Tom Szczerbowski, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: There are plenty of Knicks legends to choose from, but if you want to show people you mean business and are not to be messed with, a good choice is Charles Oakley. Beware of any throwbacks to the late ’90s — the Knicks decided to add black piping to their away jerseys for some reason, which ultimately made them too busy, Blue, orange and white are the only colors you should see on a Knicks uniform.



Current Player: Kevin Durant is the clear-cut second-best player in the league and the unquestioned face of the franchise, a no-doubt Hall of Famer that you have no reason not to support with a jersey. If you like a little controversy, Russell Westbrook has his fans and his detractors. Buying his jersey and aligning yourself publicly with the former group is a good way to separate yourself from the pack. If you really want to be different, go with Serge Ibaka.

Style: Unfortunately, the Thunder’s jerseys are pretty bad. They look pretty generic in any color scheme, and the dark blue alternate tries to go for a retro feel with a team that has no history prior to 2008. It feels cheap. Pick your poison, I guess.

Kevin Durant (35): Jerome Miron, USA TODAY Sports / Russell Westbrook (0): Russ Isabella, USA TODAY Sports / Serge Ibaka (9): Chris Humphreys, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: If you’re a Thunder fan, you absolutely cannot rep the Seattle SuperSonics. You just can’t. The wounds from the team’s 2008 move are still fresh, and Sonics legend Gary Payton has refused to allow his number to be retired in OKC. Sadly, you’re stuck with the current offerings until they come up with something better. But if you’re a fan of another team wanting a throwback and are more concerned about looks than rooting interests, the classic Shawn Kemp Sonics away jersey is a must.



Current Player: The Magic are in the stage of the rebuilding process where they have nobody to call a franchise player. The hope is that they’ll land one of the top picks in next year’s loaded draft class and fix that. For now, Tobias Harris will do the job. Not only did he show promise after being traded from the Bucks at the 2013 deadline, but he wears No. 12. It’s a great way to stick it to Dwight Howard for the way he treated that fanbase on the way out while also buying into Rob Hennigan’s vision for the future. It’s perfect.

Style: The road blues are the best of the Magic’s current set. None of them are great, though.

Rob Grabowski, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: The problem with buying a current Magic jersey is that their original incarnations, which they wore from 1989 to 1998, are the best jerseys in NBA history. The classic stars-and-pinstripes jerseys are simply flawless in every way, in every color scheme. They should have been the modern-day answer to the Celtics’ if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it philosophy. Unfortunately, they had to mess with it. But you can still get a Penny Hardaway or a Shaquille O’Neal throwback and bask in the glory of the greatest article of clothing you will ever own.

Penny Hardaway (1): Gary Bogdon, AP / Shaquille O’Neal (32): AP


Current Player: Maybe just get one that reads “LOL” and features a picture of a tank in place of a number? The Sixers’ best player was Jrue Holiday, but he was traded on draft night as part of new GM Sam Hinkie’s effort to rid the team of anyone who could be deemed a “functional NBA player.” Thaddeus Young is the best option left, but he’s a trade waiting to happen. Rookies Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams have high upside, but if you’re buying a jersey to support the youth movement, just hold off until the draft lottery.

Style: The Sixers did a terrific job with their 2009 jersey redesign. They’re just modern enough not to look archaic, but they’re a throwback to the classic ’80s look above all else. You can’t go wrong with the red, white or blue varieties.

Howard Smith, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: The just-retired Allen Iverson was a generation-defining player, and the jerseys the Sixers introduced when he came into the league are the perfect balance of flashy and classy.



Current Player: Um, Eric Bledsoe is pretty exciting, I guess. Kendall Marshall isn’t very good at basketball, but he’s pretty good at Twitter (if a bit overrated). If you’re a twin, matching Markieff and Marcus Morris jerseys could work. A Michael Beasley jersey will have some comedic value in a few years. But the Suns’ roster is brutal. Add them to the “Wait and see if Andrew Wiggins is in their future before buying a jersey” list.

Style: The Suns recently introduced a new set of uniforms with a fashion show that rivaled the Miami Heat’s infamous 2010 welcome party in extravagance. No team has likely ever made as big a deal out of introducing new uniforms as the Suns did earlier in August. It makes sense, though: For one thing, the Suns will be one of the worst teams in the NBA this year, and not in the “bad but fun to watch” way that the Clippers were during Blake Griffin’s rookie year. This might legitimately be the most exciting thing on their calendar between now and the draft lottery in May. Secondly, the jerseys the Suns introduced in the early 2000s and phased out two weeks ago were the worst in NBA history. There was nothing redeeming about them whatsoever. Any time they’re taken out of our lives is cause for celebration.

As for the new ones, they’re an improvement. The purple road jersey is clearly the best. As for the orange sleeved alternate, I’m actually not opposed to sleeved NBA jerseys as a concept. In fact, for normal fans who aren’t world-class athletes and thus might be better off not wearing a tank top in public, a sleeved jersey is a great balance between an official jersey (which they are) and something you can wear every day. The Suns’ new orange one isn’t great, though. They should have saved the purple for that, because orange would have worked fine on the normal sleeveless jerseys.

@PaulCoro, Twitter

Retro Player: The Suns’ early-’90s jerseys were absolutely spectacular. The new ones update the shooting-star logo, but you can’t beat the original in any of its incarnations: white, purple or black. If you’re a Sacramento Kings fan, it might be worth getting a Kevin Johnson jersey, seeing as how he saved your team from moving to Seattle. Otherwise, Charles Barkley and “Thunder Dan” Majerle are solid choices.

Dan Majerle (9): AP / Charles Barkley (34): David J. Phillip, AP / Kevin Johnson (7): T.J. Sokol, AP


Current Player: The Blazers’ best player is still LaMarcus Aldridge, but rumblings have started that he may want out soon. Nicolas Batum is fun, lengthy wing who’s the second-longest tenured Blazer at this point and just on the brink of finally fulfilling his wild potential. Wesley Matthews is the working-class hero. But the unquestioned face of the franchise going forward is 2013 Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard, who in addition to being one of the brightest stars of the current class of up-and-coming point guards, wears the number 0, which is always recommended.

Style: Grantland’s Zach Lowe recently proclaimed that the Blazers have the best nickname in the NBA, and they’re near the top of the heap in the uniform rankings as well. They’ve never deviated from their red/white/black color scheme, never fallen prey to the cartoon boom of the late ’90s and always favored elegant simplicity. It’s why you can look through their entire history and not find one bad-looking jersey. The current ones are no exception, but if you really want to show local pride, the “RIP CITY” alternates are the way to go.

Steve Dykes, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: You can get away with basically anything in Portland. Unless you’re Raymond Felton or Darius Miles, being an ex-Blazer guarantees you a lifetime of adoration. Still, be careful. It’s way too soon to go with Brandon Roy or Greg Oden. Avoid anybody from the Jail Blazers except Rasheed Wallace, but the 1999-2000 team that featured Steve Smith and Arvydas Sabonis is a goldmine of choices. Anybody from the ’77 title team (Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas) is a good call. Ditto the late-’80s/early-’90s teams that featured Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter. Those jerseys, which featured all-lowercase lettering and introduced the diagonal stripes that have become a staple ever since, are probably their sharpest.

Bill Baptist, Getty Images


Current Player: The Kings are under new ownership but still feature a roster with no direction at all. Point guard Isaiah Thomas regressed last year after a promising rookie season. Rookie Ben McLemore was called the best shooter in the draft by some, but it may be a few years before we find out how good he’ll be. Jimmer Fredette is still on the team, but he’s more of a cult hero than a valuable basketball player. For better or worse, the best bet is DeMarcus Cousins, whose talent is just tantalizing enough to cancel out whatever questions there are about his attitude. And the Kings have shown no sign of wanting to trade the big man, so he’ll be there for a while, especially if he gets the max extension he wants.

Style: The Kings donned throwbacks to the two-toned jerseys of the late-’90s glory years this season, and they were phenomenal. Easily better than the regular options.

Russ Isabella, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: Anyone from the Rick Adelman era will do just fine. Chris Webber, Mike Bibby, Peja Stojakovic and Vlade Divac made up one of the most exciting offensive teams of the turn of the century. For bonus points, try to track down one of those players’ jerseys in a throwback to the look they sported in the mid-’80s when they moved to Sacramento. The powder blue and cursive lettering are tough to beat.

Rich Pedroncelli, AP


Current Player: Obviously, the Spurs have been anchored for the past decade by three future Hall of Famers in Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. There’s absolutely no harm in buying one of their jerseys. If you want something that will be relevant after they’re gone, though, go with explosive third-year wing Kawhi Leonard.

Style: The awful silver alternates that look like practice jerseys notwithstanding, the Spurs’ classic home and away jerseys both look good and suit the team and the organization perfectly.

Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: The Admiral, David Robinson, is still beloved in San Antonio, as he should be.

Donna McWilliam, AP


Current Player: Besides Rudy Gay (who’s overpaid and underproductive), the most well-known player on the Raptors is DeMar DeRozan. Second-year guard Terrence Ross is exciting. Big man Amir Johnson is a fan favorite. But Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas is the one player on this roster with the chance to become a real franchise cornerstone. Buy in now, before it becomes too trendy.

Style: The Raptors’ current jerseys are kind of bland, but they’re not terrible by any means. The black alternates are the best.

Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports

Retro Player: The Raps’ original uniforms are legendary. They define the era of cartoon jerseys, but they transcend the kitsch value most of them still hold. They’re legitimately awesome. Vince Carter is the defining player from this era, but his messy exit from Toronto might still be a sore spot. Carter’s newly-retired cousin, Tracy McGrady, is a safer bet.

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