Nike is once again outfitting modern squads in Classic Edition looks from the past. Here are Nike’s NBA throwback jerseys for this season.
Basketball season has returned, and with it, so have the NBA throwback jerseys that will soon grace the court.
Once again, Nike is releasing a range of Classic Edition uniforms for select teams. Though throwback jerseys have shifted in and out of on-court action since the NBA’s 50th Anniversary season in 1996, the rebranded retro looks have held weight with Swoosh signage since Nike took over apparel in 2017.
From T-Mac takes in Orlando to Pistol Pete purple in Salt Lake, learn the history behind each of the 2023-24 NBA Classic Edition throwback jerseys below.
Original Run: 1999 to 2003
Historical Storytelling: 35 years ago, the Orlando Magic made their NBA debut as an expansion team. Prior to taking the court, the Florida franchise sought out a local ad agency to craft the team’s identity around stars and pinstripes.
Outsourcing an electric blue shade made by MacGregor and accenting home and away looks with silver scores, the team wore the now-beloved look for a decade straight, spanning the eras of Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, and beyond.
Ahead of the lockout-shortened 1999 season, the team tasked designer Jhane Barnes to usher in a new identity. Famous for outfitting showmen like Elton John and Robin Williams as well as divas like Cher and Bette Midler, Barnes broke all the NBA’s rules with her ‘Sublimated Stars’ style.
Ditching mesh menswear in favor of the dazzle fabric that WNBA athletes donned at the time, the shiny uniforms doubled-down on the graphic garb worn by the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies by outfitting the entire body with more blue stars than Pretty Ricky. The squad’s signature pinstripes were moved to the side paneling, first introduced on Hardaway but brought to the forefront during the Tracy McGrady era.
New Narratives: Heading into the 2023-24 season, it’s been 20 years since the Magic last wore these uniforms. Led by the likes of Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, the Classic Edition uniforms are older than the team’s young core.
Now aligning with said stars as well as Markelle Fultz and Mac McClung, the throwback takes for 2023-24 are wide ranging in appeal. Highlight play permitting, expect these throwbacks to be among the more popular new/old styles next season.
Original Run: 1997 to 2002
Historical Storytelling: In the late ’80s, North Carolina native Alexander Julian was tapped to design the on-court threads for Charlotte’s newest hoops outfit. The teal tanks were a first for NBA uniforms, intended to flatter all complexions and stand out among the typical team colors.
Famously, the Hornets became the first franchise to don pinstripes in the league along with pleated shorts for full prep appeal.
Nine years into their existence, the Hornets shifted styles only slightly by adding side paneling to the tops and bottoms while making purple more pronounced on the trim. Though the likes of Glenn Rice and Anthony Mason wore both styles on court, the updated edition is most recognized for scoring the Baron Davis era.
New Narratives: Fun fact: Alexander Julian not only designed the iconic teal Hornets uniform, he also added argyle to the timeless Tar Heels jerseys and shorts. All tied to fellow NC native Michael Jordan, the team may no longer be under the GOAT’s guidance but his footprints prove powerful. This season, LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller will bring new energy to the retro design.
Though the team returned to Hornets hues and naming in 2014, they’ve introduced throwback looks numerous times since the league switched to Nike in 2017. While original looks have returned in purple, white, and teal takes, this marks the first time the B. Diddy era editions have returned.
Original Run: 1974
Historical Storytelling: As detail driven as it gets, the Utah Jazz are celebrating 50 years of hoop history by going all the way back to their inaugural season in New Orleans.
Long before Sam Presti or The Process were buying big on the future, the newly named team found a similar suitor, trading six draft picks to the Atlanta Hawks for the rights to “Pistol” Pete Maravich. The local legend at LSU was a guaranteed seat stuffer as the Jazz looked to establish a local fan base before moving to Utah in 1979.
New Narratives: Over the course of the Ryan Smith era in Salt Lake, the Utah Jazz have been as adventurous on the uniform front as any team in the league. Aside from rebranding to a bold-yet-blunt neon and black identity, the team has often played in Classic Edition uniforms dating back to the days of John Stockton and Karl Malone.
While the Mardi Gras green, purple, and yellow has returned before, this is the first time in team history that the original font from the very first season in New Orleans is back on the court. Subtly, the team tightened up the Jazz wordmark in 1975, making this Classic Edition a true testament to the start.
Original Run: 1989 to 1996
Historical Storytelling: After the Lakers departed from The Land of 10,000 Lakes for the hills of Hollywood, pro basketball returned to Minnesota in 1989 with the arrival of the Timberwolves. For seven seasons, the team took the court in royal blue and bright green uniforms worn by the likes of Isaiah Rider, Christian Laettner, and Kevin Garnett.
Infamously, each campaign while wearing said style was a losing one. Regardless, the foundational threads strike a cord with the Twin City faithful who’ve seen the expansion franchise rise to competitive status.
New Narratives: This season, the Minnesota Timberwolves have plenty to look forward to. Led by Anthony Edwards while returning the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, and Naz Reid, the squad is set to compete in the ultra-deep West.
This home Classic Edition will have amplified cachet given Anthony Edwards’ ascending status, number change, and aesthetic delta between the team’s modern looks.
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