In baseball, the starting pitcher often chooses which uniform his team will wear for each game. In the NFL, the entire season's game-by-game jersey schedule is usually set up by the end of July, but only a handful of teams bother to share that information.
And then there's the NBA, where we have now entered the era of LockerVision.
LockerVision is a publicly available NBA web interface that shows which uniforms teams will wear for every game of the season. The site was created last season, although its existence wasn't announced until March, at which point many fans -- including your friendly uniform columnist -- were surprised to learn that the league's game-by-game uni pairings had all been scripted in advance.
With the 2018-19 season set to tip off Tuesday, all of the uni matchups have already been loaded into LockerVision. The interface can be filtered by team, by date, and by game location. Want to know, say, what the Wizards will be wearing at home in November? LockerVision has you covered. Want to see what the Lakers will wear for road games on Tuesdays? LockerVision can tell you that, too. Want to know if the Bulls will keep wearing red at home this season, the way they did last season? LockerVision has the answer. (Spoiler alert: Yes, the Bulls are still wearing red at home.)
If you want to know which jersey to pull out of the closet on a given night so you can match what your favorite team is wearing -- or if you're just a uni-minded fan who geeks out over this kind of stuff -- LockerVision is a godsend. And now that the league has made this once-classified info publicly available, individual teams are taking a similarly fan-friendly approach. The Jazz, for example, have taken the unprecedented step of sharing their uni schedule for the entire season. You could also look that up on LockerVision, but it's nice that the team put it out there.
But LockerVision doesn't just give us the schedule for uniforms we already know about -- until a few days ago, it also provided hints about uniforms we haven't yet seen. For example, last season the Cavaliers' "City Edition" alternate uniforms were silver-gray, but LockerVision was indicating that their City uniform for this season will be blue. Similar color indicators were being shown for lots of other unreleased City designs, but the league apparently wised up and has now shows all of the unreleased designs as white.
And there's more. If you set up the LockerVision filters to see which uniforms will be worn on Christmas Day, you'll see that several teams' uniforms are listed as "Coming Soon." But for a while there the Dec. 25 listings showed that Nike's cringe-inducing names for the league's various uniform categories -- the Association Edition, Statement Edition, Icon Edition, and so on -- had been joined by a new term: the "Earned Edition." This confirms earlier reporting that the 16 teams that qualified for last season's playoffs would "earn" a new uniform design in 2018-19, the first of which would debut Christmas Day. (Of course, "earning" something by making it to the NBA postseason is a pretty low bar, given that more than half the league qualifies, but that's another issue.) We don't yet know what these "Earned" designs will look like but, again, LockerVision was showing what the colors will be -- green for the Celtics, gray for the Bucks (ugh) and so on. And although the league has now dialed back that info from LockerVision, the genie is already out of the bottle.
All of which is a lengthy way of saying that LockerVision should make for a very different kind of NBA season, at least from a uniform perspective. Meanwhile, we also have the usual slate of new uniforms, new patches and new court designs to tell you about. Before we get to that, here are a few things to keep in mind:
• Remember, there are no more home or road uniforms. Home teams can wear any uniform they choose, and road teams have to wear something of sufficient contrast. This makes for a lot more color-versus-color games, with neither team wearing white.
• Last season, the league began allowing teams to sell space on their jerseys to corporate advertisers. At the outset of the 2017-18 season, 17 teams had done so. Four more teams began wearing ad patches during the season, and four more -- the Grizzlies, Spurs, Suns and Trail Blazers -- have announced new ad patches for 2018-19. That gives us a total of 25 ad-clad teams, with only five teams remaining ad-free, at least for now: the Bulls, Pacers, Rockets, Thunder and Wizards.
Having 25 of the league's 30 teams going ad-clad makes the ad patch program seem like a big success -- until you remember that it was widely assumed by most observers that every NBA team would get on board with the program right from the outset. Instead, here we are at the start of the program's second season and there are still some holdouts. Interesting.
• The NBA has loosened its rules regarding sneaker colors. Instead of being restricted to white, black or team colors, players can now wear any footwear color they choose. Not surprisingly, they approve.
• A slew of uniforms, including this season's City designs and those 16 new Earned designs, are still in the pipeline. Expect to see them soon, probably in November.
OK, enough preliminaries. Here's our annual team-by-team rundown of what you can expect to see on the court this season:
Atlantic Division• No team-wide changes so far for the Celtics, but it's worth noting that forward Marcus Morris, who recently became a father for the first time, has added "Sr." to the name on the back of his jersey (additional info here):
• Knicks: No reported changes or news.
• Nets: No reported changes or news.
• Although the Raptors haven't yet made an official announcement, multiple leaks, video-game screenshots, and reports indicate that they'll be adding a new white alternate design to their uni rotation:
• 76ers: No reported changes or news.
Central Division• No reported design changes for the Bulls, but here's something interesting: Last season they wore their red uniforms as their primary home look. During the preseason they tinkered with wearing white at home, but a quick check of LockerVision indicates that they'll go back to wearing red for most home games when the regular season begins.
In a clever design flourish, the fire hydrants around the arena have Bucks-themed looks:
In addition, the Bucks' dancers will wear less revealing uniforms this season (additional info here):
• Interesting move by the Cavaliers, who have thickened the gold outlining on their uniform numbers:
• If you count tights and compression sleeves as part of the uniform, it's worth noting that the Pacers have changed their accessories from blue to yellow during the preseason:
In addition, the Pacers reportedly have a throwback in the works. Stay tuned.
• Pistons: No reported changes or news.
Southeast Division• The Hawks are celebrating their 50th anniversary with a powder-blue throwback uniform, along with a black-themed alternate court design that will be paired with a matching alternate uniform that has yet to be unveiled (additional info and photos here):
• Heat: No reported changes or news, although there are some unconfirmed rumors about new pink and black alternate designs. Stay tuned.
• Last season the Hornets wore teal throwbacks that hearkened back to their inaugural season. This time around they're going with the white version, along with a throwback court design (additional info here and here):
• The Magic are celebrating their 30th anniversary with a pinstriped throwback uniform and an anniversary logo, although the logo will not be worn as a jersey patch (additional info here):
In addition, the Magic have added a memorial band for owner Rich DeVos, who died in September:
Pacific Division• Clippers rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has set the record for the longest name ever to appear on an NBA jersey -- 17 letters plus a hyphen!
• Kings: No reported changes or news.
• The Lakers have updated their uniforms with several design flourishes that evoke -- but don't quite match -- the team's classic "Showtime"-era uni set (additional info here, and there's a Uni Watch analysis here):
Perhaps the biggest issue, though, is the shade of gold that the team is using. Many fans felt that last season's uniforms were too light -- more of a yellow than a true Lakers gold -- and team management even acknowledged the problem at one point, but the new set appears to be the same color as last season's, which has led to more fan consternation and even inspired an online petition.
Also: As you might recall, the Lakers used last season's City alternate uniform to introduce their own uni rubric, called the Lore Series, with a different Lakers legend being honored each season. Last season's Lore uni was for Kobe Bryant. And based on retail leaks that have been circulating, this season's will be for Magic Johnson. So far, we've gotten a peek only at the shorts, not the jersey:
Oh, by the way, in case you hadn't heard: Some guy named LeBron plays for the Lakers now. As per his long-standing habit, he's wearing No. 23 in games but No. 6 (his number when he was with the Miami Heat) during practice sessions. This can be a little confusing, because forward Lance Stephenson normally wears No. 6 for the Lakers, which means there are two 6s -- boxcars! -- during Lakers practices:
Speaking of LeBron, the color scheme for the sneakers he's reportedly planning to wear for season opener against the Trail Blazers on Oct. 18 seems mighty evocative of a certain team in Cleveland he used to play for, and some L.A. fans aren't happy about it.
• The Suns went without an advertising patch last season, but they've added one for 2018-19 (additional info here):
• Last season the Warriors wore a Rakuten ad patch featuring a red "R" logo and the company's name. This season the patch has been streamlined to show the company's wordmark:
In addition, the Warriors have added a good-looking 1970s throwback to their wardrobe:
• The Grizzlies have undergone a full redesign, although it's more of an evolution than a revolution. Unfortunately, it also includes the addition of an advertising patch (lots of additional photos and info are available on this excellent interactive page):
• Mavericks: No reported changes or news.
• The Pelicans' memorial band for owner Tom Benson, which was added to the team's jerseys after his death last spring, is being retained for 2018-19:
• Rockets: No reported changes or news.
• The Spurs have given in and added an advertising patch to their uniforms this season (additional photos here):
Northwest Division• The Jazz are celebrating their 40th anniversary in Utah by adding a purple throwback uni to their wardrobe (additional info here):
In addition, the Jazz have a new court design this season:
• One year after updating their uniforms, the Nuggets have done it again. Here are the primary white and blue designs:
Unfortunately, the new set has resulted in the team's skyline alternate uni being mothballed. Even worse, it has been replaced by an utterly forgettable design:
In addition, the Nuggets have a new color scheme for their primary logo:
• The Thunder have added a Native American-themed alternate uniform. The turquoise color is in keeping with Nike's longstanding N7 uniforms for college teams, which encourage Native American participation in sports while celebrating native culture (additional info here).
• The Timberwolves are commemorating their 30th season with a black throwback uni that revives several of the team's old design elements -- including the illegible typography, ugh (additional info here):
There's also a new 30th-season logo, although it won't be worn on the uniforms:
• The Trail Blazers are another previously ad-free team that has added an ad patch for this season (additional info here):
And there you have it. Did we miss anything? If so, you know what to do.
Paul Lukas recently engaged in his own form of LockerVision. If you like this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, check out his Uni Watch merchandise, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.