Reviewing the Orlando Magic's New Uniforms

An Orlando Sentinel photo gallery contained this control art for the Orlando Magic's new uniforms for the 2008-2009 NBA season. The pictures presumably come from the Orlando Magic organization, although no byline was given.

Art featuring the new white home uniforms with silver pinstripes of the Orlando Magic for the 2008-2009 NBA season, the team's 20th in the league.

The new home uniforms.

Art featuring the new blue road uniforms with silver pinstripes of the Orlando Magic for the 2008-2009 NBA season, the team's 20th in the league.

The new road uniforms.

As with anything relating to art, my opinion is pretty subjective, and different people have different opinions as to what makes a great uniform. With that in mind, I'll outline my feelings about the uniform after the jump.

I think both sets are gorgeous and a major upgrade over the previous look, which was attractive, yet bland. What makes this set so great? Namely, it's instantly identifiable with the Orlando Magic. Look at the control art for the home uniform at the top of this post. Now, in your mind's eye, remove all the Magic logos, wordmarks, etc. You're left with a white basketball uniform with black-and-blue trim, as well as silver pinstripes. There's no mistaking it for a Magic uniform, based on the team's history.

Let me explain. The new uniforms recall, then tweak, elements from the team's previous looks, while remaining cohesive:

It's hard to find things to criticize, but I'll go ahead and try:

  • The wordmarks on the rear remind me of those novelty shorts, popular with teenage girls, with sassy sayings. I've never been a fan of words or logos on the seat of the shorts, but it's become a trend in the NBA, so I can see why the team felt it necessary to brand their players' behinds (figuratively speaking, although if Dwight Howard keeps shooting below 60% from the foul line, we might move into the literal.)
  • The side panels, with their curvaceousness, seem a bit too fancy. the black offers some nice contrast, but I wish they were strictly vertical. Yes, the curves help accentuate the sleek look the franchise wants to cultivate, but they still look a bit silly. The bottom of the shorts is the worst part of the uniform, as the panels abruptly curve to give way to show-off the team's streaking basketball logo. Still, the detail isn't as confusing and, frankly, ugly as that on the Atlanta Hawks' most recent uniform:

    The red stripe down the side we understand, but why are the blue panels on the jersey and shorts on opposite sides of it?

    Photo by Scott Cunningham

  • The unusual neckline doesn't leave room for a star at its nadir, which might be the best detail on the team's most recent uniforms.

There is one detail of the new uniforms to which some purist observers may object, but to which I do not:

  • The curved pinstripes buck the trend a bit; never before have I seen curved pinstripes on a professional sports uniform. It's a new look that may not catch on, but I give the Magic and their design team (adidas?) credit for not merely recycling the conventional pinstripes from the franchise's infancy. Perhaps the curved pinstripes will catch on and become part of the team's identity. I believe that's the goal for which the Magic strove. The team's staid last uniform set, while attractive, did not correlate with the playful image its logo and mascot presents. The current look is distinctive, dynamic, and eye-catching. It wouldn't be as so with straight pinstripes.

There's also another potential problem with the Magic's uniforms, but it's nothing that didn't exist before, and it's nothing that the team can help without undoing 20 years' worth of marketing: they're blue. By my count, 17 of the league's 30 teams have a blue uniform in their wardrobe, be it away or alternate. That total includes the Charlotte Bobcats' bizarre greyish blue alternates and the Oklahoma City Thunder's rumored away uniforms, but does not include the Los Angeles Lakers' purple road uniforms, which the organization refers to as "Forum Blue."

Only five hours have past since the unveiling, but I still feel comfortable in saying the new uniform is the best the team's ever had, narrowly edging out the "dazzle" uniforms with sublimated stars.

Allow me to eat my words from March, when news of a uniform change first broke:

The whole thing smacks of greed -- Are you ready to break the bank for new jerseys and t-shirts? -- and I don't like it one bit.

But that's enough from me. What do you think? Let's hear it in the comments.

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