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Ranking the Latest Nike NBA Earned Edition Jersey Collection

The NBA officially unveiled its 2020-21 Nike NBA Earned Edition uniform collection, exclusive to the 16 teams who earned a spot in the playoffs last season. Here’s a ranking of most ugly to not the most ugly.

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Photo by NBA.com

Off the top, it has to be declared that this secondary/alternate uniform phenomenon has gotten completely out of control. Admittedly, I’m a guy that cares deeply (probably too much) about the detailed esthetics of professional sports team attire. The uniforms, jerseys, fonts, kicks, cleats. The appropriate color clashing. I love it all. In 2021, if I can’t flip on an NBA game (or otherwise) and identify one or both of the teams in under five seconds, there’s a serious problem. Like everything else in society, there’s just TOO MUCH.

The NBA and Nike just released its Earned Edition jersey collection for 2021. Yes, this means that the 16 teams that made the playoffs last season now have yet another alternate uniform choice from now until the end of the season. These NBA courts are starting to look like a kaleidoscope.

Some are these threads are sinfully ugly. Others fall into the “meh” category. A few can actually be deemed acceptable. A couple of them rock. All of them, however, are unnecessary. Regardless, why don’t we rank them from worst to not the worst? I thought you’d never ask. Let’s talk fashion!

All images are from NBA.com.


16. Utah Jazz

This green is ugly, and there’s way too much of it. It just doesn’t jive with this golden yellow either. I loved when the Jazz switched over to the navy a few seasons ago, but they have this obsession with going back to the green. I’ll even take the layered sun burst alternates over these. No thanks.


15. Los Angeles Clippers

The blue that the Clippers wear is so sharp, but they keep moving away from it. First the black and white City alternates, now this grey version. And I’m a lover of greys! But this is too boring. They need to work that blue in somehow.


14. Philadelphia 76ers

These look kind of… dinky. I understand the representation of the Liberty Bell here, but I’m just not a fan of it being solo with the overlapping number. Looks too much like a custom intramural league outfit. The only solid part of these jerseys is that slick cream color.


13. Indiana Pacers

The Pacers rocked a very similar version of this some years ago. Because the Pacers seem to change their style every couple of years it seems, it’s hard to acknowledge this as “special.” So what, the pinstripes are diagonal now? I mean, I guess. Looks too much like every other version in the past.


12. Miami Heat

I’m not against a little black on yellow, but the Miami Heat just have too many colors. There’s the original black, red, and white. Then the awesome pink and cyan Miami Vice editions. But now, it’s too much. Yellow is worked into their court theme, so they can (barely) pull this off. Anything is better than that cotton candy blended ViceVersa City garbage.


11. Dallas Mavericks

These are absolutely sharp. I love the color scheme that the Mavs have, especially that popping white lettering with the blue trim. But I feel like the Mavs have been rolling with this look for years now. They lose a bit of credit for lack of originality. But I’d much prefer these to the cartoony City nonsense with the green or the new gold ones.


10. Brooklyn Nets

I actually love the very simple original black and white road Brooklyn Nets jerseys. Classics. I’m not in love with these new Earned ones. The “NETS” across the front looks like a promotional ad for the Arial font type. I do like the grey pattern look that resembles their court. “Like” is the most I can commit to here.


9. Portland Trail Blazers

Portland basically sucked the red color out of their primary uniforms. But because the Blazers have such classic jerseys to begin with, it works. Very simple and clean. Has almost a newspaper clipping feel to it. They are neither the best, nor the worst. These are still the most untouchable of all the Blazers threads.


8. Houston Rockets

It’s not a coincidence that I like these new Rockets jerseys, as they have a similar feel to those Blazers ones in the link above. I really like how Houston has transitioned to a black and red theme overall, removing some of that yellow from years past. These Earned editions are solid.


7. Oklahoma City Thunder

These are very similar to the Mavs above in terms of color scheme. I love the navy, Thunder blue, and white together, without incorporating the orange. Specifically, that invisible strikethrough line in the middle of “THUNDER” is pretty badass, establishing that uneven look. Very creative.


6. Orlando Magic

I’m not a fan at all of the Magic’s current set right now, or these orange-infused City alternates. But I really like the look of this Earned edition. I like the crisp, clean look of the solo logo with lots of bright white surrounding it. And I love the thin black trim around that simple number display. The stars are alright, but overall, this is a winner.


5. Milwaukee Bucks

I wasn’t immediately a fan of the block lettering brought out a few years ago, but I do like seeing “BUCKS” rather than “MILWAUKEE” for the roads. I loved when they worked that little blue stripe into the alternate blacks. Wish they included that here. Those antlers on the sides are pretty sweet as well. They should make these the permanent road attire.


4. Boston Celtics

More green! I actually hated the Celtics City jerseys with the full “Boston Celtics” on the front. Too plain, and it’s too much text on top that overpowers the jersey number. However, I have to admit that I’m a fan of the green on greens here. That dark green, with the light green in the trim is really crisp. They’re even better than those slick black alternates.


3. Los Angeles Lakers

Whenever you can work some charcoal grey into a uniform set, I’m in. The Lakers have toyed with more black in recent years, which I don’t love with the purple and gold (the Black Mamba version stands alone). But the grey in these Earned editions makes that purple pop. So, so solid.


2. Denver Nuggets

I could be on an island here, but I just love the simplicity of this look. It’s clean, with lots of white, and I love that blue, yellow and subtle maroon color combination that the Nuggets switched to a couple of years ago. And even though it could appear a little Summer League-ish, I’m digging the solo logo here too. Looks like a cool standalone creation.


1. Toronto Raptors

The Raptors nailed it here, by fusing their past and present together here with one solid look. They reached back for the original purple and merged it into the new Chevron design. Just instant classics. And I promise, I did my best to remove all bias, being located in Toronto. But these threads just rule. Besides, both SBNation and Bleacher Report also ranked these #1 overall. Validation!


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