A team’s uniform is a big deal. It’s an emblem, a flag, a banner.
Fans take that signature seriously. They don’t want their team goofing too wildly with the vestment they love, the robe which the gladiators representing them wear into battle against other armies of other city-states.
There’s a fine line, then, between properly updating, modernizing, making more chic that which has been recognized as a standard in the community for seasons past, and letting that uniform become stale.
Think of all those years in which that jersey evoked the kind of passionate emotion that causes 10-year-old boys as well as 85-year-old grandmas, and all subsets in-between, to stand and scream and applaud and cry and, most importantly, quite willingly offer up any number of Benjamins for seats to watch their team play.
Messing with that too cavalierly or frivolously is dangerous business.
The Utah Jazz know this.
They are fully aware you don’t scramble Yankee pinstripes or tarnish the Dodger whites or put polka dots on Celtic green.
On the other hand, they also know the Jazz’s symbols of the past — the snowcapped-mountain peaks with the Jazz-bobsled effect or the white-and-teal-and-copper coloring — haven’t exactly nailed down their identity with any certainty, causing other NBA teams to wish they had get-ups like the ones Karl and John wore.
The closest thing to money Jazz designers have come up with through the club’s history is the J-note.
That’s pretty damn cool.
And the Jazz were smart to go back to it in recent years, to the point where they highlight it on their unis and with its image at the center of the court and immortalize it further with the statue thingy out front of the renovated arena. Wise moves, all around.
But the Jazz’s latest emblematic production, the shirts-and-shorts ensemble featuring what all NBA teams are producing — a fourth uniform, a “city edition” number to reflect the team’s city or, in the case of the Jazz, the state — is a sweet, sweet stroke. It’s a nod to the redrock country at the southern end of the state, a bold new fashion STATEment that will grab the attention of Jazz fans, fans of opposing teams, and the players themselves.
If you want a comprehensive rundown on the maneuvering behind the new uniforms, check out Zach Lowe’s informative piece/fashion review at ESPN.com. He says the Jazz’s fresh threads are “unlike anything the NBA has ever seen — rippling gradations of orange and red with a matching court design that features the famous Delicate Arch. It is beautiful — a home run, courage rewarded.”
The design of the uniforms, released in an email from the Jazz on Christmas Day, start at the top with a yellowy glow, fading into gold tones, then orange and red hues, finishing in gray and earth colors at the bottom of the shorts.
Circuitous routes of highways running from Salt Lake City to St. George and Moab run respectively down each side of the uniforms.
Lowe is right. Nobody’s seen gear like this in the NBA.
And the transitioning colors work much better than, say, those old Houston Astros shirts of yesteryear. The fact that the colors represent some of the most spectacular — and downright singular — landscapes found anywhere on the planet sets Utah apart from anything any other city or state can righteously depict on their emblems, their flags, their banners, their vestments, their robes, their battle wear.
The images on the new court, which will be used on the dates when the new uniforms are worn, have similar coloring around the edges of the floor, with the aforementioned Delicate Arch featured prominently. A bright-and-bold “Utah” is scripted across the middle of the court.
“The synchronization of the uniforms and court demonstrates our pride in the natural beauty of Utah,” said Bart Sharp, a senior VP of marketing for the Jazz.
That synchronization blends nicely some of what makes Utah other-worldly with the team that reps it on floors around the NBA. Granted, you or nobody else would ever confuse me with Ermenegildo Zegna, or any kind of fashionista, but the new threads work. They may not be for everybody, as nothing is. But on the relative few occasions they will be donned, they can be worn — magnifique! — with a state’s pride.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.