Gordon Monson: The Utah Jazz’s new uniforms are likely to mix happiness with unhappiness, optimism with grief, power with pain

What to make of the Utah Jazz’s rebrand? The Tribune columnist lays it out in black and yellow

There have been only hints and guesses, speculation — nothing officially announced yet — about a most important component to the Utah Jazz’s winning on and off the court in the seasons ahead.


That’s right. Dress for success, baby.

Look good to feel good to play good to be good.

It seems almost laughable that a team’s accessories, such as colors and logos and uniforms, make any kind of difference in the way it performs, or the way its fans connect to it and perceive it, the way they feel about the group for which they root, but there are suggestions among those who study the human mind and those who coach players, those who market teams that that presentation matters.

It matters to them. It matters to everyone.

Upon further review, it’s as much branding as it is fashion.

Either way, there’s been notable attention by more than a few fans paid to whatever it is the Jazz will look like in the near future.

Will the many familiar shades of the past — Mardi Gras’ purple, gold and green, the Jazz toboggan off the mountain’s blue and teal and copper, the descending colors of a setting sun bouncing off desert landscapes of orange, red into darkness, among all the others, be dumped, wholly replaced by … what’s this, white, yellow and black?

Will an approving nod to tradition turn to a no-go wagging of the head from side to side?

Will the Jazz eventually look like Bumblebees, like Yellowjackets, like Dart Frogs?

Will black — many have noticed the giant note in front of Vivint Arena having been redone, also the script and trimmings on and around the courts in the Jazz practice facility — become the primary color? Is black a color at all?

Those hints have leaked out, as have fistfuls of renderings on social media, artistic folks offering up what they believe the future Jazz logo, the Jazz uniforms might look like.

After talking with a high-ranking Jazz official about the meaning of it all — he gave no on-the-record substantiation as to what the reality will be, only that it seemed to be stirring a lot of interest among fans, that it was important to a lot of folks — desperation set in.

While fashion has always been a strong suit of mine — knock that grin off your face, pal — having no degree in design, it became necessary to rely on outside expertise.

I googled it.

As to yellow and black, which is the direction the Jazz are heading, the internet design experts used these words to describe the psychology of yellow: logical, optimistic, progressive, confident, playful and creative. For black, it was: formality and elegance, sophistication and minimalism, authority and power.

All of those characteristics appear to fit well into the imaging an NBA team might want to project not just to its fans, its paying customers, but also at its opponents.

The downside projections to yellow are: jealousy, childishness, anxiety; and to black: grief or unhappiness, mysteriousness, emptiness or loneliness.

But stirred together, these experts say, the positive of that mixture far outweighs the negative.

“Black and yellow branding is popular as these two colors balance and contrast each other well,” according to the design gurus at simplified.co. “The cheerful and eye-catching hues of yellows are balanced by the more sober and sophisticated hues of black. Black and yellow branding uses a bright shade to grab attention, while the black hue maintains a more elegant and formal look.”

Elegant and formal? Sorry, but can’t help but remember at this point Jerry Sloan’s old line about not being able to play basketball in tuxedos.

On the other hand, another known association with black and yellow, which these guys didn’t mention, is dangerous or poisonous, such as in some venomous reptiles or wasps or in the cases of a train crossing or traffic warning barrier.

A sports team like the Jazz wants to scare the bejeebers out of an opponent, putting on a formidable face, without freaking its fanbase into a state of fear or panic.

All true, but how does one explain the Lakers winning 17 NBA titles wearing the colors of the Easter Bunny? Win enough games and the fans will think even that’s cool.

Not sure what the Jazz, a team that’s never won a title, will end up doing.

The team official threw in with the guessing game, teasing about what might happen, offering officially only that owner Ryan Smith has said there will be upcoming branding changes and mentioning the aforementioned hints in Jazz graphics and in-arena promos of the yellow, black and white splashes.

He said fans love wondering about it and discussing it.

They do more than that.

They’re passionate about it, some of them, as though the logo, the colors, the uniform are emblematic of not just a sports team, a community, a fanbase, but of … them. As in, them personally, to the degree of the proper reverence for and waving of a flag.

In that way, Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and Mike Conley, all of them, when they wear that Jazz uni on the floor, they are hoisting that flag.

Not only are those colors and that uniform significant to the players themselves (it’s not uncommon for stars to want a say in how they look) but its important on all sides — so thousands and thousands of fans will buy the jerseys at no small cost to them, wearing the regalia with attendant pride, or at least wanting to.

That’s why when King Ryan Smith announces there will be branding changes, symbols anew, both the paladins and the peasants want to know what they will be, how they will turn out, how they will look, how they will feel, how they will make the horsemen, the serfs and the swains feel.

Because they are them and them are they.

One and the same.

Yellow, black and white — happy and unhappy, optimistic and mournful, cheerful and empty, confident and poisonous, full of power and pain.

Sounds like a good fit.