Over the next few weeks, Rick and I, two of the bigger jersey junkies at the site, will tackle our opinions on the Cleveland teams’ uniforms, logos, and color schemes. The Cavaliers have a diverse and interesting uniform history in just 44 years of existence. Here’s a look at some of our favorites and ones we’d rather forget.
Rick: We’ve long had our battles over the current uniforms perhaps we should go ahead and start there. Is the current set one of your favorites?
Kirk: It is. I’ve been very defensive of your “ketchup and mustard” comments over the past couple of seasons. Truth be told, I think both predominant color schemes in the franchise’s history (wine and gold, blue and orange) are great. But, I love the original colors for their uniqueness. These uniforms honor that pretty accurately. I’m in love with the gold home alternates.
Rick: I loved the orange and blue of the Mark Price era Cavs, but I thought the “new expression” of the LeBron era Cavaliers were the best uniforms. Not just color wise, but the gorgeous Cavaliers wordmark with such a great font. I was as disappointed about the change from that set as I’ve ever been about a uniform change.
Especially going to those awful red and yellow uniforms with a horrible font.
Kirk: I think the uniform change was a necessary reboot at a difficult time for the franchise. The navy alternates that the Cavaliers wore quite frequently in the playoffs from 2005 on took my silver medal for best Cavs’ uni. I still have my #23 (stored away somewhere), and I probably got my value out of that thing five times over. I wore it just about every Cavaliers game during my OSU days.
As for the font choice, yeah, there’s little personality to it. The Cavaliers font is still in the current logo and it is phenomenal. I do wish they’d incorporate it in the current set. The home whites REALLY have no personality. The wine road unis are definitely better, but the home gold alternates are where it’s at. The bold font is very in line with alternate jersey fonts of the past and around the league. Petitioning the league to be grandfathered into the “non-white home primary jersey” rule that I believe exists would be something I’d do if I were Dan G. The Lakers are the only team with that right currently.
Which of those era were your favorite?
Rick: I loved them all really. The whites were fantastic, which is hard to say about most teams’ white sets. I actually wasn’t as big a fan of the alternates as most I think. I didn’t mind the blue, but I thought the regulars were top 5 easy in the NBA.
When I think of the new set, this is what jumps into my mind.
Though truth be told, those renditions of the McD’s uniforms I might even like better than the Cavs.
Kirk: I just think it’s a coincidence, one I don’t let bother me. The Kansas City Chiefs have survived with this color scheme and made it their own in the NFL. I think it’s a matter of what teams you grew up with and saw have success. I was too young for the Price-Daugherty era Cavs by just a tad. That left me with blue, orange, and black memories filled with Danny Ferry, Bobby Sura, Terrell Brandon, Andre Miller, and early-era Z, etc and that hideous pale-blue color scheme and seating in the Gund.
Having my Dad grow up with the AC, wine and gold era and then having the color scheme reboot happen when I was 14 gave me time to fall in love with the wine and gold scheme. The success certainly didn’t hurt that.
Rick: The blue/black uniforms need to be an era that Cleveland fans collectively ignore. Let’s just all pretend they never happened. What a disaster those were. Totally a marketing company decision that black and powder blue were the hip colors.
Kirk: Yes, they were not good, and they were sadly my first memory of Cavs basketball. At least the mid-90’s uniforms were bold like most of the uniforms of the time with the blue splash for the numbers. The worst by far for me were the 1999-2003 combo with the white home and black road combo. No personality whatsoever.
Rick: I actually prefer those over the ridiculous jagged stripe over the chest jerseys.
Kirk: They even took away the basket splash logo on the shorts and made them look just black and white with the road unis. Gross with a capital G.
Rick: Going back to the wine and gold debate for a moment, I was with the Cavs and your dad on wanting to reconnect with the miracle of Richfield era Cavs. I thought they did that with the LeBron era unis. Why do you say they needed a change up?
Kirk: It’s a tough psychological jump to see the era of success that they had and then play like crap in those same jerseys during a rebuild. They probably could’ve done a smaller change, but they did have the same jerseys for 8 years, which is a decently long amount of time in the NBA. Ideally, if I got to pick the best from each era, I would have a home gold primary, current wine road, and navy alternate (even though it doesn’t fit great with the current color scheme). They’d all have the James-era font across the chest.
Rick: It seems to me that in the NBA you are either tinkering with your uniforms every few years or you have a classic/iconic look. My opinion is that you tinker until you find that timeless look for your franchise. I think the Cavs could have had that with the new expression uniforms.
Kirk: That’s a fair point. I think the Cavs are very unique in that they’ve had two fairly unique and popular color schemes. It’s a divided preference among Cavs fans, but there are very few that strongly dislike one of them. What other franchise can say that?
Rick: The number of NBA teams that have had 2 successful color schemes intrigues me. Is there another?
Kirk: I can’t think of another off the top of my head (or any pro team, really). The Tampa Bay Bucs have had two.
Rick: I like the hidden “All for one. One for all.” in the neckline. So there. I don’t hate every part of the new uniforms, Kirk.
Kirk: Agreed, it’s a very nice touch. I feel like the Cavaliers are making a conscious effort to reach back to their roots and establish that iconic look. They may just be trying to go about it a different way than the mid and late-2000s.
Rick: It’s funny, when I think about the Cavs gear that I own/owned, I actually had two different navy hooded sweatshirts from that early 2000’s era. Not a wine or gold one. I did have a couple of t-shirts that were the wine though.
Kirk: I’m all over the board with blue, orange, black, wine, gold, and white Cavs gear. It’s very easy to keep it fresh with 40 years of different looks! I currently have a wine Kyrie and gold Tristan in my jersey rotation, for what it’s worth.
Rick: I’m not much of an NBA jersey buyer. That has more to do with my shape than anything. My daughter has a blue/orange throwback style one. She also has a couple of player t-shirts. Kyrie. For the record, I also don’t really care for the striping on the new uniforms.
Kirk: I’m kind of neutral on it. It could be better, but I don’t think it takes away from the jersey itself. I think the C-sword logo on the shorts is a nice touch. Shorts need a sizable logo in my opinion to keep them from being too plain.
What’s your favorite throwback/CavFanatic jersey that you’d like to see them pull out of the closet 1-2 times a year?
Rick: As far as the CavFanatic jerseys, I would say this is my favorite (Andy, pictured left).
Kirk: An excellent choice. That was in my final few choices for a throwback type. If I got my wish on the team wearing gold a lot and for the sake of being different, I would say the orange ’83-87 unis (World B. Free, lower right, they wore these in ’06-’07 as a throwback as well).
Rick: Those would be 1B for me. By the way, the Atlanta Hawks have had quite the uniform history as well. Those blue/green uniforms surprised me.
Kirk: I forgot about those. They sure jumped into the 90’s jerseys with both feet. I remember Mutombo wearing those. The Wizards had the Bullets colors, then went to the royal blue for the Arenas-Jamison era then went back… that’s about the only example i can think of right now. Most teams stick to their colors. The Raptors left purple and picked up red.
Rick: The Nuggets you could argue had two distinct color schemes.
Kirk: Yes, I feel like the Cavaliers are the most decidedly divided though. For 20 years (’83-’03), they were blue and orange, and they’ve had two separate decade-plus runs in wine and gold variations.
Rick: The Nuggets always had yellow and some shade of blue I guess looking at it harder.
Kirk: I’d be lying if calling them the “wine and gold” didn’t weigh into my decision at least a little bit. I do it more than I do “scarlet and gray” even.
Rick: Uniforms are such a personal thing to some. You connect with a certain uniform for your own reasons. I certainly didn’t expect either of us to change our mind about the Cavaliers kits because of this conversation.
Kirk: No, and that’s the fun thing about it. I’m sure we’ll hear some conflicting opinions in the comments section. The younger and older crowds are likely to be more pro-wine/gold, while the middle-age group will be more affectionate toward the 80’s look.
Rick: Maybe we didn’t spend enough time on those 80’s classics. They were a great set. The only thing about those now is the emphasis on Cavaliers vs Cavs.
The new expression wasn’t just about the colors. It was about bringing the Cavalier name back into the fold.
Kirk: Yes, I’m partial to “Cavaliers”, because the nickname means something and is a great nickname. But the CAVS with the V-basket styling is really, really cool.
Rick: It was a great logo. I think the move back to Cavaliers is probably why I went with the LeBron era wine and gold over the blue and orange at all.
Kirk: True, with the exception of the 90’s era, every decade had something unique and great about the uniform, logo, or colors. I actually didn’t mind the basket splash logo that much for how awful the uniforms were.
Rick: My earliest Cavs memories were of those Mark Price teams. Those are the Cavs that I have the most fondness for.
Kirk: The lasting thing from the discussion is now you’ve made me want the current logo font for the uniforms. That really is a travesty to moth-ball outside of the logo.
Rick: I think that I would have an easier time accepting the color changes if that wordmark was still on the uniforms. The jagged C’s? What a great design.
Kirk: Most definitely. It stands up on its own great as the center court design even. It’s simple but immediately identifiable.
That’s it! We covered a lot of topics, but the one that interests me most is your preference for wine and gold vs. blue and orange in the Cavaliers’ color scheme. In a quick poll of the site writers, wine and gold won by a 5-2 margin. What were your favorite uniforms? Least favorite? What changes would you make to the current set? Is Rick too hard on the current set with his “ketchup and mustard” comments? Let us hear about it in the comments section!
(Photos: David Liam Kyle/Getty Images, Johnathan Ferrey/Getty Images, Tony Dejak/AP)