'Tis the season for ugly Christmas sweaters — and in the spirit of the season, we're running down every NBA team's worst jersey ever.
For the most part, these are uniforms each franchise wore regularly for at least one season. With a few select teams, however, we dug deep for some of the most atrocious one-off jerseys you'll ever see. So as you get ready for the holidays, settle in for some truly garish fashion choices.
Portland Trail Blazers: 2012-13 to present (alternate)
I can't really say anything negative about this modern Portland alternate jersey, other than the font not being all that great. Other than that, this is a solid look for a franchise that's maintained a classic look.
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Minnesota Timberwolves: 1996-97 to 2007-98 (road)
I anticipate a lot of pushback on these being Minnesota's worst jersey ever, so let me get ahead of those arguments with the following statement:
Good! With that out of the way, I can admit that these aren't all that bad. There's just a lot going on, between the trim, the font, and the base color choice. This same look in black, though, is somehow one of my favorite jerseys.
Utah Jazz: 1996-97 to 2003-04 (road)
If you look at these from a certain perspective, they make a ton of sense: the corniest jerseys in NBA history for one of the corniest franchises ever.
... stop looking at me like that, Karl. I see you lurking in the background. Can't hide behind those mountains.
Indiana Pacers: 1984-85 to 1989-90 (home)
In his darkest moments, Reggie Miller will descend into a subterranean shrine he built deep beneath his home many years ago, shortly after he retired. There, he ponders life's greatest mysteries.
When he grows weary and too tired from such deep thought, he slams his fist on cold granite and shouts to no one in particular, wondering why he was never able to win a championship.
And if he should strain to listen, Miller would hear the universe whisper back, "Because of those awful home jerseys, Reggie."
He knows what he did.
Milwaukee Bucks: 1978-79 to 1985-86 (road)
The '80s were a different time — when a man could dress up like a wrong-colored yet still Christmas-themed candy cane and head to work, and no one thought twice about it.
As for the '90s Bucks jerseys with the deer on the front? I like them. Sue me.
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Denver Nuggets: 2012-13 to present (alternate)
How dare you, Denver. How dare you try to pay homage to the Nuggets' skyline jerseys — the greatest jerseys in NBA history — yet not include a rainbow background, instead opting for several shades of blue adorning garish yellow jerseys?
You go back to the drawing board and you fix this immediately.
Philadelphia 76ers: 1991-92 to 1993-94 (road)
You have to give the Sixers credit for leaning into their patriotic moniker, but this jersey screams 1990s in all the worst ways. At least they managed to capture the milieu of the decade within its first two years, though. That kind of invaluable foresight is why the 76ers won so many titl—
You know what? Never mind.
Chicago Bulls: 2013 Christmas Day (alternate)
Only an NBA-wide initiative could ruin the Bulls' classic jerseys (although your mileage may vary on their various St. Patrick's Day alternates). Shoving a giant, metallic Bull logo on the front of red pajamas managed to do the trick on Christmas.
Los Angeles Lakers: 2013 Christmas Day (alternate)
Everything we said about the Bulls in the entry above holds true for the Lakers here. Stop messing with a good thing on Christmas Day unless it's actually an improvement, NBA.
Memphis Grizzlies: 2007 NBA Europe Live Tour (alternate)
We dug deep into the NBA archives to find these monstrosities just for you, dear reader. The combination of the Grizzlies' old, dated font and that garish accent on the side makes for an ugly, ugly jersey that luckily stayed in Europe where it belonged.
NBA teams like to take very successful looks and change them for no reason other than change itself. Then they modify those changes to conform to a staid pattern taking the rest of the association by storm — and that's how we go from the spectaular Magic jerseys of the Shaq and Penny years to ... these.
Buckle up, because we're about to hit a run of grey jerseys with sleeves.
Houston Rockets: 2015-16 to present (alternate)
Someday, we as a people will band together on one crucial issue facing humanity today:
We need to gather all of the sleeved grey jerseys in the NBA, pile them into our most powerful rocket, then fire said rocket directly into the sun. I'll call NASA if the rest of you will start stealing jerseys from arenas.
... I'm sorry, but at the behest of our lawyers, I must advise that you DO NOT steal jerseys from NBA arenas. Thank you for your understanding.
Boston Celtics: 2014-15 to present (alternate)
Why. Just ... why?
The Celtics' jerseys are nearly perfect. Why would you ruin them with these alternates? Do the youth of America really dig grey sleeves? Is it a melancholy thing? Are we on the verge of reigniting Billy Corgan's career in Boston?
New Orleans Pelicans: 2008-09 to 2012-13 (road)
A bastardization of all that is good and holy from the original Charlotte Hornets jerseys with a cajun twist, these jerseys are the NBA equivalent of Jeff Goldblum in "The Fly"* — a grotesque, Cronenbergian mashup that should not be.
(*Editor's note: Come up with a modern reference that people younger than 30 will actually understand; this Goldblum obsession is getting a little weird.)
San Antonio Spurs: 2013-14 to present (alternate)
I understand that these are supposed to honor military personnel, and I appreciate the sentiment. Maybe do it with a patch or something that doesn't make people want to remove their eyeballs and drop them down a sewer drain — particularly with that unnecessarily massive Spur logo.
Toronto Raptors: 2011-12 to present (alternate)
Seriously with the camo? I like to dream of a world with no conflict, no war and, as a result, no camouflage jerseys ever again.
It's my dream, but if we all pitch in, we can make it our reality.
Tom SzczerbowskiTom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Clippers: 2015-16 to present
These are technically the Clippers' road jerseys, although they seem to have abandoned the intramural look in favor of their black alternates. Those aren't much better, but at least the logo's a slight improvement.
Oklahoma City Thunder: 2014-15 to present (alternate)
I for one did not know that an NBA team could plaster ridiculous iron-on decals onto white pajamas and use them as official jerseys, but kudos to the Thunder for being so frugal.
Quick note while we're here: All of OKC's jerseys are awful, which is simultaneously a travesty and somehow fitting when compared to the sartorial splendor that was the Sonics' green-and-yellow masterpiece.
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Cleveland Cavaliers: 1997-98 to 1998-99 (home)
Moments after this photograph was taken, one of the referees on the court reminded Shawn Kemp what he was wearing.
He walked off the court and was never seen again.
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Miami Heat: 'Floridians' ABA throwbacks (alternate)
The Heat have worn these jerseys a number of times over the years. LeBron, Dwyane Wade and the Big Three-era Heat wore them. Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning wore them. And every time Miami decides to unearth these throwbacks, they set back civilization by roughly a decade.
You are literally preventing us from establishing a colony on the moon, people in the Heat front office. Knock it off.
New York Knicks: St. Patrick's Day abominations
"Hey, you know what colors go together? Orange, black ... and green!" — Literally no one, except maybe people so drunk on St. Patrick's Day that they can't see straight.
Phoenix Suns: 2003-04 to 2012-13 (alternate)
I honestly don't know which is worse — that these jerseys somehow beat out the more recent sleeved "Halloween" monstrosities, or that the Suns wore these orange and grey botch jobs for a decade.
Just kidding; the latter is absolutely worse.
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Detroit Pistons: 1996-97 to 2000-01 (home and road, honestly)
Fact: I have had multiple Pistons fans tell me these are the best jerseys in franchise history, which is quite remarkable. I didn't know an article of clothing could give an entire group of people Stockholm syndrome.
Also, while everyone remembers the teal — who could forget? — Detroit's road reds from that same era weren't exactly a revelation either.
Brooklyn Nets: 1990-91 (road)
It's never a good sign when a team decides to wear a jersey for a single season, but that's what happens when someone in your front office approves an acid-washed look for your jerseys.
Bonus points to Reggie Theus for rocking the compression shorts that give his ensemble a two-toned look that really brings out the "acid" in the wash.
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Charlotte Hornets: 2004-05 to 2007-08 (road)
The Hornets are the proud (?) owners of the Bobcats' franchise history, too, which means the team owns these miserable orange road jerseys.
Look at poor Adam Morrison. In retrospect, that sucker never stood a chance.
Sacramento Kings: 2005-06 to 2006-07 (alternate)
I don't know if cream soda can spoil, but I like to think that if such a thing were possible, the resulting product would look an awful lot like these Kings alternates from the mid-aughts.
Atlanta Hawks: 2015-16 to present (road)
I mean, I'm as big of a fan as the Legend of Zelda series of video games as the next guy, but that doesn't mean I want a never-ending, overlapping series of triforces on my NBA jerseys.
And I certainly don't want any neon yellow anywhere near anything. It takes a lot to outdo Atlanta's "Hawk-print" logo from the late '90s, but this look is just awful.
Washington Wizards: 2006-07 to 2008-09 (alternate)
I want to like these jerseys. There's a part of me that believes this whole color scheme could be pretty stellar in the right hands, with the right template.
Then the rational part of my brain comes back into the room, notices that the emotional part of my brain has been drinking, and has to get things back in order before I ruin everything for all of us by ordering a Wizards throwback jersey.
Golden State Warriors
A little less than four years ago, the Warriors unleashed the scourge of sleeved jerseys upon the NBA landscape, and they did it with pinstriped shorts, for some reason. The faded logo, the font, those awful shorts — nothing works with these uniforms.
Really, though, Golden State's place on this list is all about the team's status as the first to wear sleeves. I can't pretend the motivation is anything else. But hey, at least they're not the worst jerseys ever ...
Dallas Mavericks: 2003-04 (alternate)
I know. I physically retched when I saw this picture as well. These jerseys even manage to make Dirk Nowitzki look like an ugly human being. If you can find the strength to look back to the page, though, I want to tell you a story.
It's Oct. 28, 2003 — opening night for the Dallas Mavericks. The team prepares to unveil its alternate jerseys for the 2003-04 season. Suddenly, an extraterrestrial time-traveler bursts into the locker room, steals the Mavs' jerseys, and leaves them with his own shiny, alien vestments. The Dallas equipment manager valiantly springs to action, fashioning the jerseys you see above as a temporary replacement. The Mavs move on with their season, without their alternate jerseys, but all is well otherwise.
I mean, it's either that, or the Mavs trotted out these alternates, were endlessly ridiculed, and decided never to wear them again.