Until the early 90s, basketball uniforms were pretty tame. There had been real limits to what could be done with jerseys. All the details—the numbers, the names, the logos—had to be sewed on. Complicated graphics would have taken a massive amount of embroidery, which would have added additional weight and made the jersey hotter to wear. But dye sublimation changed everything. Sublimation is a process of printing dye directly into the fabric. Now for the first time, you could design something in Photoshop, and make it as big and colorful as you wanted. Then with sublimation, you could print that design straight onto the material without any embroidery or extra weight. This allowed NBA teams to go wild…and they did…which led to one of the most famous love-it-or-hate-it basketball jersey, the 1996 Toronto Raptors’ “Barney Uniform.”
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent, invisible, I'm roman Mars, afternoon and ninety ninety six, the Toronto raptors abroad. New team in the NBA at the time were plain, the Chicago bulls. Fade away, jumper from the base, the bulls with As team in the league and the rafters we're pretty terrible thirty, six thousand fan shut up that day and the raptors actually beat boys, but it was mostly meaningless game at the end of the season. This reporter Whitney Jones and what's that, Trusting to me about this game isn't who want or how the teams played, but the way they looked, there's the balls we're just classic NBA. The same logos and nineteen sixty six. Their wearing their red away, jerseys that look basically like every Chicago Bulls, Jersey, ever its red with the word bulls, written across a frightened black and white lettering, it's simple classic! But then there is the Toronto Raptors,
The team is wearing their white homey reforms which have jagged silver and black pinstripes, as if they were cut by slashing raptor clause and then across the whole thing There's a giant red basketball, plain dinosaur who himself is wearing sneakers, Andy, Uniform, a totally different, uniform and he's driveling a basketball I was just there home uniform there, oh jerseys, that year were even more fun. They were bright purple all this. Including the rafters name had been inspired by the velociraptors in the wildly successful movie Jurassic Park, but these jerseys got compared to a different, much friendlier and these days, that's now known as the Barney design, because their road uniform was purple. This is Paul. Lucas uniform, absurd,
and writer of a comment, ESPN called uni watch it just it looks so called. Conditions are ridiculous. You look at it ants like really that's a professional, a top level team. The Raptors Jersey may have been particularly Irish, but it wasn't the only jersey of its kind. The nineties, where this insane decade of NBA Uniform Design a producer, the wildest jerseys- that if ever graced basketball cordon loud wacky designs, the likes of which had never been seen before and haven't seen since, like the Atlanta Hawks Red and Black Jersey, with a fierce looking hawk swooping and across the entire front of it, filling a basketball and its little talents, or the Milwaukee bucks green uniform with a giant picture of purple stag. Although is called this one great em in great in the sense that it was so awful of his great. They had this this purple garish purple and green color patronage, useless ridiculous, but it definitely all these designs. Definitely they push. And extended.
The idea of what a basketball uniform could be or should be met of these designs can be traced back to one man, I'm Tommo Grady, I join the NBA. Ninety nine. These leaks first creative director Tom grow up in Chicago Sky king and sketching the logos of his home town, Chicago Blackhawks and other classic pro hockey teams, Tom's love for sports and eye catching art made this new NBA gig dream job. My first day at the NBA was filled with excitement, I'd always been a big sports fan and I loved design and my studied graphic design. A cure, can be called back in Chicago, and so when I walked in the door and Junior ninety, ninety icon had a pinch myself, because I really didn't believe what was happening before Tom Grady join the league. Most NBA Jerseys looks something like that: Classic Bulls Jersey. They had simple too the three color schemes with the tea names across the front there
Nobel Stripe here, or there may be a cool font, but that was about it and they designed by designers. The press. Designing team uniforms is mostly lift up the team equipment managers because they will respond both forgetting the players outfitted to play. The games must This consisted of the equipment managers flipping through a catalogue. Using a design they liked with the right colors, it was not a sophisticated business. Let's say that they were happy just to get uniforms and the players backs but that was all about to change because nineteen, eighty eight, the Charlotte Hornets use a radical new idea. The colored teal in this archival news but it's from nineteen, eighty eight or its player college or Buga stands on stage in front a flashing cameras, a rip off his teal terawatt warm up to reveal the Hornets new uniforms do you was not a traditional NBA Jersey, color and be read it.
And be a blue. It's not celtic screen. It's not Lakers, Yellow Tommo Grady nothing to do with the tea or Hornets uniform, but he took it as a sign that the league was ready for bolder designs. It was, I was the kind of a leap of faith for the leads to say no. It is not really something we ve seen before it, but as an expansion team will probably lead. He had this one, because maybe there's something you we can learn from this and it turned out fans loved the TEAL, Hornets Jersey. It looked fresh indifferent, it was really very popular. They soon became known as the men of teal in all sudden, the Charlotte Hornets again great recognition before they never played a basketball game, when Tom Grady was hired as the Indies first creative director two years later and ninety ninety he wanted to Bush Jersey Design even further, not just the colors, but the designs on the uniforms until the early ninetys, there have been real limits to how wild you could get with these designs, because all the details
Numbers the names and the logos had to be sown on to do any kind of complicated graphics. Taken a massive amount of embroidery at all. That thread would have. Additional weight made the jersey hotter too where, but soon after Tom Grady join the NBA. He would get some new tools to work with computer programs like Photoshop and illustrator helped him down not new logo designs and there was a new techniques. Those drawings onto a jersey. It was I'll die, sublimation salami changed everything symbol is a process, a printing die directly into the fabric. Now, for the first time, you could design something in Photoshop. You could make it big and you could add up under different color. Then was sublimation, you could basically print that design straight on to the material. Without the embroidery extra weight. So it allowed us to start to take things We would never normally even consider doing an a jersey,
and we started doing more outrageous uniforms and stuff because we could. We can so we will Tom's. First, big design was for the Phoenix, who were celebrating there twenty fifth year in the leg. They were moving into a new arena and they wanted a new look. So Tom met with their team owner Jerry Angelo Jerry's, Great NEWS, a fellow Chicago and so soon ass. He heard my axe and he's like think we're gonna get along you now. I think us Chicago guys kind of get this. Here's. What I want to do, I want to have a logo, that's gonna last for the next twenty five years. I don't want to have to change it, so I want something futuristic, but classic so Tom and his team star and on his sons redesigned they come up with this big basketball. That's also a son It has its long red the Orange Gradient Sun Rays coming off of it, and then they print this and a bright purple. Ground under their New Jersey, It's not exactly what I would call classic, but it is born definitely board, as luck would have
The Phoenix sons made it to the NBA finals that here and the whole country gotta see that bright Purple Jersey with its blazing basketball, son all over national tv. We got experts, are you for that uniform that was priceless that changed everything for us. We were able to do things with uniforms that we could not imagine even two years before that, like a deal Detroit Pistons Jersey with a flaming horsehead logo or a pinstriped Houston Rockets There is a a cartoon rocket with an angry face on it. Over the course of the decade, two thirds of Yea teams got new uniforms with new logos and new color schemes, There was a lot of teal and purple, three lettering, an oversized graphics, were everywhere. We look back on and say, while some of this stuff is pretty outlandish, but it's ok. That's what happening at a time. The technology, let us go wild and Tom's boss and be a com
nor David Stern, gave him the freedom to keep pushing the designs further. He said in all of this is what selling, if everytime you this is what's gonna work at retail, come in before the nineties. The NBA wasn't doing much with merchandising. If a fan wanted to buy a jersey, they had to pay the full. The cost of a genuine stitched, NBA Game Jersey, which was sometimes Tuna dollars, but with all these popular new designs, Tom others at the NBA got thinking. Why don't? We cannot have a jury If we can sell for about forty five to fifty dollars, that's looks similar to that in Jersey, and we saw this business explode me now in five years and went from almost like a baseline of nothing to multi multimillion our business, largely on the jerseys that we were designing the. About vanish. Nba uniforms reach its apex. Ninety ninety five without Jersey, we talked about at the beginning that one from Toronto, one as some people call the Barney design
We were told directly by the team owner at the time, John Veto. It would like the Happy Meal Box of uniform designs and we can look at imposed like what to be me. He said, I'm not going to wear this uniform forever. I don't you know. Kids, don't eat out of a happy meal box forever, but if you going to get the kids into your store, You're gonna win them over was to convince hockey loving kids in Toronto, that they should care about this new basketball team, and so hockey loving kids in Toronto that they should care about this new basketball team, and so we created the Purple uniform right these jagged edge club pinstripes, and they like a read because ripped it and then they slept big dinosaur right in the middle of it. It read because Canada He wondered red Rapid to represent Canada, which made all the sense in the world. I don't know how much sense that made, but Thou Jersey. It's all. I think it was
top selling expansions him global. We ever did. Even today, sales were through the roof before they ever point a game. Before the team had even signed a single player, the raptors worse, I in a league and merchandise sales does the nineties came to an end. Change was afoot and stuff was about, I get a lot more boring by the earth, two thousand. The NBA had become a booming global industry and wealthy business. People were suddenly interested in team ownership. People like Howard shorts, who turn Starbucks into a multi billion dollar business into those one short by the Seattle supersonic any came the league with a whole laundry list of changes to make. He wanted to replace the who Pop you'd here in the arena game night jazz, he wanted his team to stick to the fundamental, less flashy, dunks and show boating favoured team basketball.
Or individual stars, which was actually really bad for his team because it pissed off their actual stars, also shoulder hated the sun nineties. Look that had been designed by none other than our pal Tom. We were able to take this kind of basketball, spinning around space needle and can have this Superman. And font and added towards silence in there and they changed the colors from green and gold, the dark, green red and a metallic bronze. Old, Howard, jazz instead of Hip Hop Schulz was not a fan, so he hired Seattle Design, firm, Cornel Anderson to come. You'll be remake, dishonest graphic identity, its jersey, warm ups logos, everything My parents are so damn excited this. His Andrew Wick one who is the leader designer on the project I hated what the sonnets looked like at that time too. In the water, other teams, frankly that had been rebranded in the nineties, so yeah was it was
can the candy store, direction. They were given was clear, immediate, they go back to the old classic green and gold color scheme and do something iconic our word. I want this to be something that nobody would ever want to change. I wanted to be the Chicago of the New York Yankees, the Green Bay Packers. Those are so and shapes simple shapes. They are simple: color palates. Its simplification is its strength. By the start of the two thousand one two thousand to season. Everything was in place: green and gold, no three d, anything no giant logos across the chest. The uniforms so I can update to the ones they started wearing and await seventies. But have Howard Schulz was committed to making the sonnets and iconic franchise within a iconic work, his command, didn't last very long into. Does six. He sold the dean and the new owners move this annex to Oklahoma City, but Sholtos,
static vision, rippled throughout the league throughout the arts. One team after another slowly returned the old color schemes and lost their big graphic jerseys Even the raptors look has completely changed this year, the two main jerseys were red and white, and they just they raptors on the front in a simple thought: no crazy, claymore, no dinosaurs. It's like I've, seen better energy jerseys at college. Here is Tommo Grady again there just there's nothing to them. Zero. There lifeless and I don't get it. Say what you will about Tom greatest jerseys, but they were not lifeless His designs are mostly gone from the NBA now, but they live on and blog posts enlisted goals of peoples favorite jerseys from me, a history or there his favorite in their turn Fifteen list of the ugliest basketball jerseys of all time sports illustrated wrote, quote the trunk. Wrappers, cartoon dinosaur logo is one of the worst in all sports. Thankfully
It will soon be extinct. Tom doesn't mind when people call his designs, garish or even ugly, he's proud of their reactors. Jersey was meant to be provocative, whose amount to be kind of I care. We could have taken and start out with you. No seventy two point have ETA that says Toronto and a big number on the back and call it a day, but I think that I've been a memorable identity are ignored or greatly to introduce a new team into new market, and if people are still talking about it, then he did his job right. I'm fine with the criticism about people thinking it's worse than ever, because it certainly certainly says hey. You know we notice that we have an opinion about it. We have a strong opinion about it, but we remember it and I think that's that's great- and the raptors original plan to hook kids with the happy meal of envy, agers loved her hated. You could argue that it worked today. Toronto has a loyal fan base and over the past five years,
some of the highest attendants numbers in a league and as I was bored nineties jerseys. They haven't actually gone extinct. There are now in Air companies that produce retro, jerseys and many of the designs Tom Grady and his team came up with, are really popular and wanted. Top sellers is a bright purple. Jersey with jagged clock had pinstriped and a red dinosaur rippling about the boy because Oakland's warriors swept the finals. This episode about basque butchers ease the season by just here, but I have good news for you. It's
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he will not only the double stages of IRAN. That is exactly and then in the interval everybody uses the same Brown, poulett, spheroid, white, stripes and laces along the top inflated very narrow pressure range of around thirteen p s. I or you get in trouble Viejo each other well yet, because these are carefully inspected, measured, stamped and sequestered before the game Kurt calls that I'm talking to you, he's our digital director and we're gonna talk about a type of law that is a bit less consistent, a continues to change year after year. It is the soccer ball in nineteen thirty, at the first World CUP, the two teams competing the file game couldn't agree on all the use, so fief actually stepped in and had them alternate between two different balls using one teams pick for the first half and the other to speak for the second half of going forward fever. Rule that there be just one ball per competition, make sense if so, the two balls in eighteen, thirty looked pre similar. They look
Bali balls and pretty rough looking, and he could see the laces around it to Jan Mulder, pretty typical for the time and for the decades after most balls of that period, followed the same basic model. Long strips of leathers did together into a rough sphere, most were of us. No sound color to usually neutral browns, yellows oranges, off whites, Well, don't. I grew up with didn't look like that. I was made up of this very uniform patchwork of high contrast, black and white geometric shapes and that the same example I grew up with that classic soccer ball. That's very recognisable and basically iconic at this point that if you do an image search on the web force, her ball icon, that's exactly what you'll find, and so how did this become de design that everyone thinks well soccer balls first started featuring this distinctive pattern of Yo Pentagon's and executions in the nineteen sixties.
They got really famous when fever used aversion made by Adidas for the nineteen seventy World CUP. They wanted something high contrasts. The gameplay would be easier for viewers at home to follow on black and white television screens. The so called Tell STAR Ball, was an instant hit. The name to a star is a of the words television and star because was meant to be the perfect soccer ball for televise games. The name was borrowed from tell STAR Communication Satellite, which was white. Spherical and had black solar panels all around it. A lot of sub school balls have continued to use the same basic approach of alternating dogs lights, but the designs have really evolve to over the years official Baldwin thriving thirty two to fourteen to just eight panels or fewer in some cases- and this isn't just cosmetic. Those different number of panels actually change the function of the ball yeah. They affect the shape and how the barber funds on the field. They make a really big sort of structure
difference from so. Can you tell me what this year's both gas so this year, Adidas? Who we know they ve been design these balls at fighting seventy hum and that famous test our ball her back again, and this time there actually bringing back the tell star with the Tell STAR eighteen, how similar is the top priority to the original Telstra from nineteen seventy? So it does have black and white, but this new six Pennell design actually also features a digital grid pattern of gray pixels that fade between the extremes and while the original Tell star could be easily abstracted into a logo narrower shrunk down to an emerging. This one has too much detail for that. It seems more designed to sell, My latest cool looking ball than to actually work as an icon legacy can't make icon their recent yet, but he's crazy to me that they keep painting the design and forcing professional players to deal with different shapes and weights and aerodynamics
over and over year after year. That's crazy to get it's been a big source controversy to ahead of these World CUP competitions. Some players complain about having to figure out a way. This new power actually behave on the field, and can it makes you wonder if fee, for they should just stick to one basic, uniform straw curled design right, like figure out what the best geometry and materials and then you can mix Professor changes that teens a look but don't change the actual function of the ball meanwhile for better or worse there, a lot different designs out there and you can see a ton of them on our website. At nine p, I downward Ninety nine percent invisible was breezes week by Whitney Jones and Emma Fixture Whitney. Is the host of the show pitch who's next season is coming out on audible at the end of this month on June, twenty night are makes him production was by Sharif use. If Muse by Sean Rio. Seniority
Turkey mingle in Joe Rosenberg handled the editing. The rescue team is digital director, critical stead, senior editor twenty Hall Avery. Draftsman brilliantly turn message me roman Mars. We are product. Ninety one point: seven K, L W in San Francisco and produced on radio row in beautiful, downtown confetti stream, Oakland California Ninety nine percent, invisible as a member of Radio Tokyo from pure acts of fiercely independent collective of the most innovative shows in all a pot casting fun mark and Radio Tokyo than ever. You can find a show in joint discussions about the show on Facebook. He entreated me out roman Mars and the show at ninety nine p, Org run Instagram tumblr and ready to, but I have a few followed episode. For you. If you want a really geek out about sports uniforms, fine episode,
one eleven featuring Paul Lucas of Union Watch and Jesse Thorn of Empires bulls. I talking about baseball Hungary, seriously it's great And if you want more from Whitney Jones and Pitch Chica, episode, we did with them on REM out of time and how it may be the most important political album of all time because of it packaging of episode number one hundred and twenty four you can find them both on Apple podcast by searching our beautiful and functional website? It's nothing I M p. I doubt it radio. Do.
Transcript generated on 2020-02-14.