The Oklahoma City Thunder’s jersey history has not been particularly notable outside of the two most recent ‘City Edition’ uniforms.
The Thunder uniforms are generally a little bit bland, and occasionally the creative team gets the jersey wrong.
The ‘City Edition’ uniform from the 2017-18 season fits into this category. It was poorly designed and looked horrible when compared to other jerseys.
The 2017-18 season was influential in the history of NBA jerseys. Nike had taken over as the uniform supplier, and there was a lot of hype around Nike.
Many people believed that Adidas had dropped the ball with jersey design, and Nike would be the supplier to bring art back to the uniforms.
Nike promised that teams would wear four jerseys throughout the season, and each jersey would have their unique design features. It worked brilliantly for a team like the Toronto Raptors, who experimented with different colors and graphics.
It did not work for the Thunder in the same way.
Nike and the Thunder creative staff made slight changes to the existing uniforms. The most significant addition to the line-up was the grey jersey that would eventually become the ‘City’ uniform.
At launch, feedback on the grey jersey was lukewarm, but Nike promised that it would look good on players.
The jersey did not look good on players and is the worst jersey in Thunder history.
A lot of people will disagree with me.
Some people believe that the navy alternates from the Thunder’s early years were awful and should be considered the worst jersey in Thunder history. I agree the navy jerseys made Oklahoma City look like a junior varsity basketball team.
Those jerseys did nothing to make the Oklahoma City Thunder seem like an actual NBA franchise.
However, I find it difficult to dislike those uniforms. Those uniforms came at an early point in the Thunder’s history when the organization was establishing itself, and I can understand why the jersey is pretty dull.
The Thunder were still finding themselves creatively.
There are no excuses for the grey ‘City Edition’ uniforms. Oklahoma City was a well-established, contending franchise when these jerseys were introduced.
In theory, Oklahoma City should have been able to put together dope jerseys that appealed to the fans. The reality was different. The jerseys looked crowded as it had an abundance of graphics.
The Thunder had opted for a grey base color for the jersey, which can be a problematic starting point. Grey is not usually a color that pops off the jersey, and it can be seen as a dull color.
Oklahoma City exacerbated the issue by fading from a charcoal color to light grey.
I like jerseys that experiment with blending colors, but the Thunder’s decision to stick with grey made the bottom half of the jersey look worn and tatty.
The jersey looked like it had been washed a lot with the dye fading off the jersey. The base color was a poor choice.
At this point, the jersey can still be rescued. It may not look dope, but a professional-looking uniform can be produced.
Instead, Oklahoma City went mad with colors and graphics. The Thunder chose to have two streaks slashing across the jersey.
The choice of a blue streak and an orange streak is a deliberate reference to the Thunder’s color palette.
On this jersey, the blue and orange do not work. The colors did not stand out against the grey background, and it confused the overall look of the jersey. The separation of stripes meant that there is an ample grey space between the two lines, which made it seem like there was a flag on the Thunder jersey.
It did not make sense as there are no countries with those specific colors; the closest connotation would be the Netherlands.
The lettering is not designed particularly well either. Oklahoma City has had a lot of success with using its initials rather than the name of the city. The use of ‘OKC’ means that there is less lettering on the jersey and reduces a crowded appearance. On this jersey, the Thunder used ‘OKC,’ but it made the jersey look crowded.
Instead, the Thunder chose a slanted, block capital style of lettering that perches above the streaks. The method was not suitable for a basketball jersey. It looked like something used on PowerPoint by a sales companies. It did not have the clarity and power that are usually associated with NBA jerseys.
Moreover, the placement of the lettering made little sense. The letters ‘OKC’ were placed towards the neckline. Unfortunately, this had the effect of marginalizing the initials in favor of the graphics below. It would be straightforward to see the jerseys and not realize that it is the Thunder wear these uniforms if you were a casual observer.
There is very little which I liked about this jersey.
I do not think that the design choices make sense, and it breaks the cardinal rule of uniform design. The jersey should not have too much going, and every aspect of the jersey should be executed flawlessly.
The grey ‘City Edition’ uniform has a fading, base color, different colored streaks, and WordArt lettering.
It tried to do too much.