Nike’s retro NBA basketball jerseys may be the hottest in years

True to the original 1946 designs, the basketball fits celebrate the sport, the league’s 75th anniversary, and its (well-dressed) fans.

To celebrate the NBA’s 75th anniversary season, Nike has unveiled new Nike NBA Classic Edition uniforms recognizing the three franchises that have been part of the league since the beginning: the Boston Celtics, the New York Knicks, and the Golden State Warriors (first known as the Philadelphia Warriors). The basketball uniforms are thoroughly retro in design — though the original 1946 tight shirt and short short set has been replaced with a modern tank jersey and longer, looser shorts.

“Retro uniforms are nothing new in basketball. What is new is how the Nike NBA Classic Edition uniforms intersect with such a pivotal moment in the league’s history,” Elesban Montoya, Design Director for Nike Basketball uniforms, said in a press release. “A big reason for the merger’s success was the fan support. So this is our spin on historic uniforms, but it’s also an emblem of respect for the fans who rallied for their teams and showed up for the league over the years.”

On August 3, 1949, the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League merged to become the NBA. The sport had a promising future, led by its three original teams — but fans helped the league grow from an experiment to the phenomenon it is today, Nike claims. And there’s no better brand to create the commemorative uniforms: Nike’s uniform design for basketball is “unmatched in terms of variety and depth of detail,” according to the brand.

Keeping it classic — Three uniforms — one for the Boston Celtics, the New York Knicks, and the Golden State Warriors — bear the classic Nike Sportwear logo, making this collection the first time the mark has appeared on an NBA jersey. Incorporating original design details, the jersey and short sets feature traditional color blocking and nods to retro accessories like belts.


Maintaining its set and shimmer-finish graphics, the Boston Celtics uniform boasts original green and white color blocking as well as clover motifs. “The graphic work here is verbatim to the 1946 uniform,” Montoya said of the design.

Similar aspects were preserved on the New York Knicks uniform, which retains its traditional typeface and large-scale numbers. To further reference the team’s 1946 outfits — which included belt buckles — loops have been added to the waistband of the modern shorts.


Honoring both the Golden State Warriors and the initial Philadelphia Warriors, the last uniform combines Philly design cues like blue, yellow, and white striping with San Francisco elements like scarlet red detailing. A drop shadow on the jersey’s numbers references the 1946 outfits.

Each uniform has been labeled with a “Classic Edition” jock tag and NBA logo, and will likely hit Nike’s website soon. It’s about time the retro designs return to the courts — or more likely, the couches watching the courts.