Among many other things, ESPN's critically-acclaimed series "The Last Dance" reminded us of some of the greatest jerseys in NBA history, a large majority of which were worn in the 1980s and 1990s.
Not only did Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls' teams always sport a clean look, but so did many of their main rivals. Specifically, "The Last Dance" highlighted two different opponents that the Bulls defeated in the NBA Finals that had very aesthetically-pleasing jerseys during the 1990s.
With all of this in mind, we decided to break down the 15 greatest uniforms in NBA history. Here's the RADIO.COM Sports crack at ranking the greatest threads the league has ever seen:
15. Detroit Pistons' “Bad Boys” Away Jersey – Worn From 1981–1996
I’m going to be honest. Those teal Pistons jerseys, featuring that brooding, mythical-looking horse engulfed in flames, are awesome. They're awesome. But unfortunately, it had to be paired with its red counterpart, which just doesn’t work. The teal is great. The red is not.
But there’s no bad side to the jerseys featured recently, and quite prominently, in “The Last Dance.” Watching the swagger of Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman, Mark Aguirre and the rest of the squad don these sleek unis and get after their opponents was a joy. From 1981 to 1996, the Pistons rocked these bad boys while they called themselves the Bad Boys -- a fitting name given their jersey style and their play style.
It was after 1996 that the teal and red jersey set came into play, but the Pistons have reverted back to their basic blue, red and white ways in homage to arguably the most fun era of Pistons basketball. - Jordan Cohn
14. Golden State Warriors’ “Steph Curry Era” Home Jerseys – Worn From 2010-Present
The navy blue look that the Warriors had from 1989-2010 actually wasn't a bad look, as evidenced by the fact that the current installment of the team will occasionally wear them as throwbacks. Still, the team returned to its jersey roots in 2010 when they elected to wear a jersey that paid homage to the bay area on a full-time basis again.
Not only have the Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green (and sometimes Kevin Durant) Warriors been one of the most successful teams in NBA history, they've done it while wearing arguably the best jerseys in the sport.
One way or another, the Warriors were going to find themselves on this list. If not this jersey, the ones that the team wore from 1966-1971 that had a script that read "The City" would have made the list. The fact that those jerseys were yellow knocked them down a few pegs, but they were still a pretty awesome look, one that definitely inspired the Golden Gate Bridge being featured on the team's current jerseys. - Tim Kelly
13. Atlanta Hawks’ “Dominique Wilkins Era” Red Away Jerseys: Worn From 1982–1992
We'll admit, the red jerseys with the obnoxiously large Hawk that Atlanta wore from 1995-1999 are a guilty pleasure of ours. Still, there's little debate about what the greatest look in team history is.
From 1982-1995, the Hawks managed to make a slanted jersey script look pretty incredible, both in the primary red jersey that you see above and the primary white one that they were during the period. When Lil Wayne rapped "In that red-and-yellow thing, old school Atlanta Hawk" on the 2008 song "Mr. Carter," he was picturing Dominique Wilkins and Spud Webb in these.
This is the type of jersey that wouldn't look dated if worn as a primary jersey in 2020. In fact, it would behoove the Hawks to ditch the disastrous red, black and neon yellow look that they've had since 2012 and go back to these jerseys on a full-time basis. - Tim Kelly
12. Chicago Bulls’ Black Pinstriped Alternates: First Introduced During 1995–96 Season
I’m all for the red Bulls jersey. No, not the New York soccer team’s jerseys, but the red version of the Chicago Bulls uniform that has been in use since 1985. The one that MJ wore when he hit his world-famous game-winner against the Jazz in the 1998 Finals.
I also like the White version of those jerseys. You know, the one in which Jordan hit six threes in the first half against the Blazers in 1992 before letting out his famous shrug.
But the black jerseys have to take the cake. Black isn’t the most common color for NBA unis, but some of the greatest NBA jerseys we’ve ever seen have been jet black, making the rest of the jersey design pop out. The Bulls’ pinstriped unis are no exception, but there are several other primarily black jerseys that beat out Chicago’s on this list. - Jordan Cohn
11. Los Angeles Lakers “Showtime” Home Jerseys – Worn From 1966–1999
Is a look iconic by default if Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, James Worthy, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant wore it? Yes.
That said, the Lakers sported this look from 1966 to 1999 and it's aged very well. Beyond the six NBA Championships they won while wearing it, the jersey holds up on it's own merits. The 3D numbers are a look that the Lakers never should have gone away from, one that the team - unsuccessfully - tried to better with their current jerseys. - Tim Kelly
10. Denver Nuggets’ “Rainbow” Home Jerseys – Worn From 1982–1993
Are these the NBA's answer to the Houston Astros' rainbow uniform? They have a similar feel, and are similarly revered.
We can debate whether this look was too much to be more than an alternate jersey, but the primary jerseys that the Nuggets wore from 1982-1993 were among the boldest and most popular looks that the league has ever seen.
Both the white home jerseys (pictured above) and the blue away jerseys during this period featured the Denver skyline over a rainbow background. It was nothing if not creative. - Tim Kelly
9. Minnesota Timberwolves’ “Kevin Garnett Era” Alternate Jerseys – Worn From 1996–2008
Speaking of black jerseys with features that pop out, these are the ultimate representation of peak T-Wolves basketball. Any mention of Kevin Garnett, even though he finally won his ring in Boston and has a bit of a precarious relationship with the Timberwolves, will always bring the image of him in this uniform to mind.
The word “Timberwolves” appearing across the front of the jersey was perfectly jagged and chilling, making KG’s domain a terrifying place to enter as an opponent. It wasn’t only KG, though, who comes to mind when you bring up the black Minnesota uniforms. Wally Sczerbiak ripping the net from deep and Terrell Brandon doing it all at the point made for a sick squad.
Unfortunately, Minnesota’s current uniforms pale in comparison to these and are a good marker of this forgettable era of T-Wolves basketball. But perhaps the union of Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell can spark a change in the team’s success -- and in their apparel as well. - Jordan Cohn
8. New Jersey Nets’ “Dr. J Era” Home Jerseys – Worn From 1978–1990
The Nets brought this look with them when they joined the NBA in 1978. Let's just say it became a much more aesthetically-pleasing look away from the ABA, where the ball matched the jerseys.
It's ironic that the look is so associated with Julius Erving, because the NBA team that Dr. J is most synonymous with - the Philadelphia 76ers - currently have jerseys that have stars down both sides of them. However, the jerseys that the Nets wore for their first 13 seasons in the NBA only featured stars down the left side of the jersey and shorts, an even cooler look.
The now-Brooklyn Nets probably couldn't pull this look off now because it too closely resembles the Sixers. It's a much better look than their current black-and-white uniforms, though. - Tim Kelly
7. Orlando Magic “Electric Blue” Alternate Jerseys – Worn From 1988–1998
Honestly, the era doesn’t really matter. As long as the Magic were donning the shocking blue, the unis were among the best in the league.
First, you have the Shaq and Penny era jerseys, and if I didn’t feel like this list was being weighed down by the primarily black jerseys, I’d give those pinstriped gems some more consideration. But the shocking blue, when introduced, was just so different. Shaq and Penny brought a spark to the young franchise, well-represented by what they were wearing at the time. Adding the pinstripes to the equation made these all the better.
Perhaps my favorite iteration of the unis were highlighted during the Tracy McGrady era, when stars were added to the base design of the jersey. The logos incorporated stars as well -- maybe stars are supposed to have a magical feel? -- and the jerseys were among the most whimsical we’ve seen without being too childish. It was a nice homage to the 90s while simultaneously entering a new era.
And then there’s the modern era electric blue Magic jerseys, donned most iconically by Superman himself. Dwight Howard’s hulking stature contrasting with the brilliant blue of Orlando, complete with the pinstripes, is just awesome. Sure, there was a short span where the jerseys lost the pinstripes and the “shocking” aspect of the blue base, but the franchise smartly ditched that look and were back to normal by 2008. - Jordan Cohn
6. Philadelphia 76ers' "Allen Iverson Era" Away Jerseys - Worn From 1997-2009
The Allen Iverson-era Sixers managed to make silk jerseys cool. Silk!
From 1997-2009, the Sixers donned silk jerseys that read "Sixers" across the front and featured the black jersey seen above, a white jersey and an alternate blue uniform. While many are partial to the blue alternates, the black jersey seen above is one of the highest-selling NBA jerseys of all time, almost single-handedly because Iverson became a cultural icon at his peak. It's also the jersey he wore when he dropped 48 points in Game 1 of the 2000-01 NBA Finals, helping the upstart Sixers to upset Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and the heavily-favored Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center.
The red, white and blue look that the current installment of the Sixers rock are much more fitting to Philadelphia's history - after all, the team's name is literally a nod to the founding of the United States. But if the Sixers are smart, they'll have Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and the current team wear a modern-take on the iconic Iverson-era jerseys soon. - Tim Kelly
5. Phoenix Suns’ “Charles Barkley Era” Alternate Jerseys – Worn From 1992–2000
The Suns' franchise has existed since 1968, but they never had a better look than they one they wore from 1992-2000.
The giant basketball across the front breaking up the "Suns" script and number underneath was by far the best of any uniform design that the team has ever had. It looked excellent in white and purple, but was really put over the top by the team's black alternate during that period.
Even though the Suns only wore this jersey combination for nine seasons, it's a look that various stars wore. Charles Barkley, Dan Majerle Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and Steve Nash all wore the jerseys for stretches of their respective tenures in the desert. - Tim Kelly
4. Miami Heat Black “Miami Vice” Alternate Jerseys – First Introduced in 2018
These completely defied my expectations. My favorites, before the introduction of the Vice jerseys, were the originals. Charcoal black, fire red, and defining everything that “heat” is, in essence. With Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway and Jamal Mashburn as the faces, the simplicity of these was good enough for me. After all, the concept of heat is pretty simple.
But heat turned into fire once the Vice jerseys were introduced when the league provided each team with an alternate “city” jersey, and Miami responded better than the league could have expected. Darren Rovell reported that “tens of thousands of jerseys ordered from nearly 50 countries” were too much for the team to handle. The addition of more colors to the set, including pink, were met with similar acclaim. - Jordan Cohn
3. Vancouver Grizzles’ Away Jerseys – Worn From 1995–2000
Memphis is an awesome place for a professional basketball team, and the young core of Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson is introducing a fun, boisterous brand of basketball after years of somewhat boring play led by Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.
But unless the roster makeover additionally translates into a sweet jersey makeover, we don’t think Memphis will be able to replicate just how sick the Vancouver jerseys were. After all, when I think of grizzly bears, I don’t think of the country music that flows out of Memphis. I think of the cold, brittle weather throughout Canada’s forests and tundra. And while Vancouver isn’t exactly a good representation of the Arctic sections of Canada, it’s a heck of a lot closer than Memphis.
That’s what makes those green Vancouver jerseys, complete with the bear logo on the shorts and the crazy font of the team name, so memorable. Bryant Reeves, a bear of a man himself, rocked it especially well. Mike Bibby, Shareef Abdur-Rahim and the rest of the squad had the honor of wearing one of the coolest uniforms we’ve ever seen. - Jordan Cohn
2. Utah Jazz “Karl Malone Era” Away Jerseys -Worn From 1996–2004
I don’t get why the NBA didn’t follow the lead of the Jazz and incorporate some background design into each uniform. No, Jazz doesn’t have anything to do with mountains. But the mountain backdrop behind the purple base is such a cool contrast and is just such a marker of the Malone-Stockton era that has yet to be matched to date. The current logo is clever, incorporating a musical note to actually relate to the team name, but it’s nothing like the mountain theme.
If other teams just put a part of their logo or culture in the backdrop, there could be other great jerseys reminiscent of this design. The Bucks tried with the Michael Redd, Ray Allen-era purple and green unis, which were nice, but not quite there. The Dikembe Mutombo-era Hawks tried with that big red hawk flying across the background. But nothing quite matched the Jazz.
Some ideas: a big rocket, not that little cartoon gray one, with fire coming out of the engine and all, in the backdrop of a Houston jersey. Or perhaps a sizzling sun coming up on the horizon of a Phoenix desert for the Suns. Or, if we really want to push the envelope, a huge gathering of black clouds and jagged lightning bolts taking up the background of a contrasting primary-color jersey to make the Thunder really pop. - Jordan Cohn
1. Toronto Raptors’ “Dino” Away Jerseys – Worn From 1995–1998
If you've found yourself at a college party at any point in the last decade, there's a good chance you've seen a few Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady throwbacks, with a giant dinosaur on the front.
The once-polarizing jerseys have become a classic, one often worn in pop culture by celebrities that either weren't alive or were too young to remember them actually being worn as a full-time jersey from 1995-98, the first three seasons of the Raptors' existence.
The Raptors celebrated their 20th anniversary by wearing the purple Dino jerseys for select games during the 2014-15 season. For their 25th anniversary in 2019-20, the Raptors broke out the white Dino jerseys a few times, a nearly equally impressive look. The truth is, the Dino is awesome, as are the zig-zaged pinstripes and unique jersey font. The Raptors never should have moved away from these as their primary jerseys. - Tim Kelly