If a young blind boy approached me and asked, “Sir, if I ever gain the ability to see, how will I be able to identify the Denver Nuggets when they take the court?”, I would have a hard time answering him.
It was when I saw Nikola Jokic dribbling a basketball in a hot dog-colored city uniform that I realized the Nuggets were on a mission to wear every single color Nike can print. If Jokic wins MVP, they’ll have 16 different jerseys to sell.
For most of the 21st century, the Nuggets had a memorable, identifiable color scheme. Powder blue and yellow adorned the muscular, handsome bodies of Carmelo Anthony and Chris Anderson until the later part of the 2010s. While those two colors weren’t the best combo in the league, they were unique and recognizable.
In 2017, however, everything went off the rails. The Nuggets announced it was time for a rebranding, and they unveiled three new uniforms. Okay, rebrandings are cool, let’s see what they went with.
Right on, so what we have here is a dark-blue on white and an all-white with some dark blue trim. These are fine; my criticism, however, is that they don’t seem very similar. Other than the blue stripe on the side of the white uniform, these look like completely different teams. But wait, wasn’t there a third uniform?
Oh my, oh… we’ve got yellow too. Okay, well, that was their Statement jersey, so they could get a little funky. It looks like the Nuggets’ rebranded color scheme is dark blue, powder blue, yellow, and white. I’m eager to see how they play with these colors next season!
Now the “Nuggets” on the white uniform is orange? And their Statement jerseys are cerulean blue? Where does that red collar come from? Okay, breathe, I have to remember the Statement jerseys are “fun”. Time to reprogram my brain to remember that any shade of blue could be Denver. Nuggets-Knicks games are about to look like Penguins-Bruins games.
Now we have slate black city uniforms. Well… at least they’re not purple? The design in and of itself is funky, but for the second straight year, none of Denver’s four team colors appear in this jersey. Now when I turn on a Nuggets game, I might think I’m watching the Nets, or any of the FIVE OTHER black City Edition jerseys from 2019. Can we please do something cool with the navy and powder blue?
Please make it stop. What are you, the Salami Suns? We could have had a powder blue base with yellow streaks through the mountains, but now we have maroon with orange stripes? The team said the color, “nods to the landscape of Colorado“, which I think is interesting, since Colorado isn’t on Mars.
Lastly, this jersey can be found in the NBA store as a gray variant of the basic navy blue jersey. I couldn’t find an image of it being worn in-game; their lockers were probably too full at that point.
I know what you might be thinking, dear reader: “The City Edition Jerseys are supposed to be different, that’s the fun of them!” I understand. However, it’s the undefined branding of the Nuggets base color scheme in the first place that acts as a disservice to the whole wardrobe.
The Nuggets chose a really unfortunate time to overhaul their color scheme, since as soon as they abandoned the iconic powder blue, the entire league started getting creative with alternate uniforms. The Nuggets unveiled their base dark blue and white uniforms in a year that introduced statement jerseys for every other team. Their base dark blue and whites, simply put, have always looked like alternates.
How It Should Be Done
As an example, let’s take the Miami Heat. They have license to get crazy with their City Edition because their team color is red, it’s always red, and everyone knows it’s red. Any NBA fan knows that a Heat game will either give them a red uniform or a colorful one.
The Nuggets, though, just recently chose new team colors that aren’t familiar to more casual fans in a sea of alternates. If I were to design their Statement/City jerseys, I’d commit to integrating the navy blue, yellow, and powder blue to really build a consistent aesthetic.
If you’ve watched a Denver Nuggets game in the last four years, though, the team was either wearing powder blue, white, navy blue, gray, yellow, medium blue, black, or red. That’s not a team, that’s a conference. I know you’re trying to have fun, Denver, but when I find myself Googling your team colors so I can remember what they are, it might mean you should commit to some sort of color palette. You don’t have to be the Celtics, though… you can have more than one color.
Actually, you should watch out, Boston. This team might be green too once the playoffs come around.