The NBA At 75: The Greatest Jerseys of All Time

By Alain Patron | February 15, 2022

As the NBA celebrates its 75th anniversary, it's important to remember this basic rule of thumb: nostalgia is, generally, a liar, except when it comes to NBA uniforms. Let's face it, everything great about today's NBA uniforms is a callback to yesteryear. These new-age designs, especially during All-Star Game weekend, would make Vokal seem like haute couture.

Here, we’ve rounded up the greatest jerseys in NBA history.

Atlanta Hawks 1995-1999

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Can you see this jersey without thinking of Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo wagging his finger after he blocked a shot?

Charlotte Hornets 1988-2001


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Charlotte Hornets apparel was a staple in the '90s because of the players that wore this jersey. From Larry “Grandmama” Johnson to Mugsy Bogues to Alonzo Mourning and Glen Rice, this jersey is so famous that the Bobcats rebranded and became the Hornets once again before the 2014-15 NBA season.

Denver Nuggets 2003-2008

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Most people would opt for the 1982-1993 "Rainbow Mountain" jerseys, but the "Silky Melo" caused mass hysteria in every neighborhood in America when it dropped.

Detroit Pistons 1996-2001

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This could've been a masterpiece of a jersey created for a next-generation star in Grant Hill. But, unfortunately, once Hill left Detroit for the Orlando Magic in free agency, these beauties perished, never to be seen again.



New York Knicks 1996-2001

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These jerseys represent the best moment in Madison Square Garden over the past two-plus decades. June 5, 1999, will forever live in the annals of history because of Larry Johnson's 4-point play.



Orlando Magic 1988-1998

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An argument can be made for the 1998-2003 "Magic Kingdom" jerseys, but we're going with their original alternate jerseys. Penny & Shaq, Shaq & Penny. You had to be there.



Philadelphia 76ers 2000-2008

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"Hey, remember the Doc played for the 76ers; Dr. J? So I got the 76th floor in the joint..." - JAY-Z on “Grammy Family (Freestyle)”

I'm sure most of you are wondering where Julius “Dr. J” Erving’s jersey is, but outside of Michael Jordan, no basketball player has impacted the culture and world like Allen Ezail Iverson from Virginia Beach. This jersey swept the nation because it, like Iverson, represented Black culture by being a transcendent piece of clothing that illustrated hip-hop style on and off the court.


Phoenix Suns 1992-2000

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For most of their 54-year existence, the Suns have been known as a fun team because of their run and gun offense style of play, and nothing exudes that sentiment more than their "fun in the sun" alternate jerseys.

Seattle SuperSonics 1978-1995

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Unfortunately, people are walking this planet who have never had the pleasure of watching an NBA on NBC tripleheader featuring Tom Hammond, Bill Walton, and Steve "Snapper" Jones calling a Seattle SuperSonics game. This jersey was donned by the greatest trash-talker in NBA history (Gary Payton) and the most disrespectful dunker in NBA history (Shawn Kemp). What a time to be alive!



Toronto Raptors 1995-1999

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First thought of as a cheap rip-off to piggyback the success of Barney, once Vincent Lamar Carter was drafted in 1998, this jersey became a must-have.

As a bonus, here are the best jerseys in All-Star Game history:

1984-1990

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From Michael Jordan being "frozen out" and deliberately having the ball kept away from him in the 1985 game to his show-stealing performance in Chicago in 1988 while wearing the Air Jordan Cement 3 sneakers, these jerseys represent the highest level of competition in exhibition game history.



1991-1994

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Being an All-Star is an accomplishment in any year, but wearing this jersey made players feel like they were initiated into the Avengers. The most significant moment in All-Star Game history occurred in Orlando during the 1992 season as Magic Johnson, who had just retired due to contracting HIV, was cleared to play and won MVP.



1995

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In a post-Jordan world, his sidekick Scottie Pippen stole the show in the Valley of the Sun during the 1995 game. While the cactus on the jersey was thought to be radical, Pippen debuted a pair of red Nike Air Flight Maestro II sneakers which made this a very colorful affair.



1996

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If a cactus wasn't your flavor, how about a jalapeño adorning a jersey? Just as important as the jerseys, Michael Jordan debuted the Air Jordan OG Columbia 11s at the 1996 game in San Antonio during his historic full-season return to the NBA.

Photography by: MITCHELL & NESS