Cleveland has LeBron James to thank for the Cavaliers' abominable new jerseys

Yahoo Sports
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/cle/" data-ylk="slk:Cleveland Cavaliers">Cleveland Cavaliers</a> City uniform. (Nike)
Cleveland Cavaliers City uniform. (Nike)

Gray uniforms are the worst. Let’s get that out of the way up top. And when that’s the color Nike chooses for your town on their newly unveiled “City Edition” NBA uniforms, that’s even worse. Congratulations, we picked the color most people associate with depression to represent you!

A handful of teams got this treatment, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Cavs superstar LeBron James was bold enough to publicly inform us that he played a major part in the design process.

“They’re phenomenal,” James said from shootaround before Wednesday’s game against the Sacramento Kings. “I was happy to be a part of it. I love the color scheme. I love the Ohio crest on the front of the shorts. I love the color combination of the gray with the gold and the outline in navy. They allowed us to do a lot with it, so it was fun. It was a fun procedure.”

“I love the color scheme.”

Dude, it’s gray. That’s not a color scheme. That’s an absence-of-color scheme. And, hey, here’s a creative detail to truly represent the city: An outline of the entire state. Sorry, I do not mean to be so dismissive of this new jersey deal, but I find most of these new Nike uniforms to be an abomination.

And one of the things that really annoys me is the Marketing Speak of the whole process. Via Nike:

The Cleveland Cavaliers represent what hard work can achieve. Inspired by the pride and spirit of an entire community, the team is united by an all-for-one-and-one-for-all attitude to protect and “Defend The Land” and its home court together.

For more than 75 years, the iconic giant “Guardians of Transportation” sandstone sculptures have stood guard over Cleveland’s Hope Memorial Bridge to protect travelers entering and leaving the city. The side panels of the Cavaliers City Edition uniform represent the Guardians but with a team-specific twist: The Cavs shield logo is inset as the head of each sculpture. Further graphic inspiration from the Guardians’ robes and a belt buckle featuring the silhouette of the state of Ohio symbolize the team’s stature as a regional protector. If those features aren’t clear enough, “The Land” is emblazoned across the chest to offer direct tribute to the entire Northeast Ohio area.

“The Cleveland Cavaliers represent what hard work can achieve”? What, by being such an abomination of a franchise that they were in position to draft locally grown LeBron first overall, lose him because they couldn’t construct a proper team around him, stink for several more years, and then lure him back because they were lucky enough to win the lottery three times in four seasons? Yikes. That wasn’t nice. There is no arguing it took a lot of hard work for them to beat the Golden State Warriors.

I sort of do like “The Land” nickname, even if it seems to have only been born recently, because it has a Bone Thugs-N-Harmony origin story, and that’s something to celebrate. But the last bit of design was inspired by the “Guardians of Transportation” underneath the armpits. I was under the impression they were called the “Guardians of Traffic,” which, again, is quite the representation.

Of course, LeBron has a response to all this snark:


This part is definitely true. I hope he’s right. I’m sure I’ll come around on traffic and gray someday.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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