Cleveland Uni Talk: Cavaliers

Kyrie Irving LakersOver 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.

Anderson Varejao Hawks

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.

82990972JF010_CLEVELAND_CAVKirk: 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?

cavs70slogoKirk: 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?

Mark PriceRick: 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.

Anderson Varejao, Carmelo AnthonyWhat’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.

freeorangeRick: 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.

cavsbasketlogoKirk: 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.clogo

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)

  • Ben Frambaugh

    I grew up during the Mark Price era…and was never a fan of those jerseys. I am not a huge fan of the Gold jerseys either. It’s almost like the worst kind of retro for my personal tastse. The Jerseys that Anderson Varejao and Mo Williams are wearing (near the top) are probably two of my favorites. I do like the “wine-heavy” unis as well.

  • mgbode

    The jagged C w/ the sword through it is really the only great aspect of any of the uniforms. Outside of that, many are acceptable, but nothing special. And, we have our atrocities as well. As for the current colors, Pitt is sponsored by Heinz, not us.

    In all, I think our basketball team needs a rebrand. Would love to see them just dump everything and come up with something new.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    I’m a big fan of the jagged C as well. I like the font of the first Anderson Varejao jersey.

  • Turtle

    The Pistons brief stretch of switching from the traditional Blue/Red to the 90s inspired Teal/Black comes to mind as to one of the major franchise color changes…

  • TSR3000

    The all blacks were sweet.

  • Jack

    I honestly don’t understand why people like the LBJ era jerseys. They were tacky, ignored all modern design sensibility, had wretched typeface, and that olympic color scheme? Did we expect Michael Johnson to lace ’em up and slot in at shooting guard? Metallic gold is just awful for NBA uniforms, in my opinion. The colors were dark and did not appeal to youth / energy. Good riddance.

  • Julie Beadle

    I agree with this so emphatically. They were so ugly and they looked dated to me from day one. I hated the colors and the trim.

  • Julie Beadle

    I really like the current jerseys. The colors at nice and vibrant. They seem modern in a throwback kind of way.

  • RGB

    Aww yeah…

  • Jaker

    Wow I disagree with a lot if your choices, but to each their own.

    The Cavs do have an amazing history of uniforms. I really liked the LeBron era ones, especially with the Big “C” at center court like the last picture. Out of the current uniform selection, the home gold Uni’s are the ONLY ones I like(Kyrie does indeed rock it well in that first pic). I hate the blue Cav fanatic(Andy rocking that one vs NYK) ones with a passion, and I really dislike the red with gold writing.

    My favorite uniform is the red script Cavaliers over the gold Uni’s(shown top left). They are my personal favorites and I love the blue ones with the same design as well. Of all the other Uni’s, I like the Price era ones to round out my top three (following the LeBron era ones and the script red over gold)

  • Isaac

    Great post. I personally love the Blue slash jersey set, no matter how ugly they are, just cause thats what I grew up with. I do genuinely like the “CAVS” font and basketball splash logo from that era though.

    I like the current gold jerseys a lot. Wish they said “Cavaliers” or “Cleveland across the front though, that font looks better when its used in a longer word for some reason. Wish these were our primary home jerseys as well.
    The LBJ era royal blue jerseys were awesome, but the others were just ok. That metallic gold panel on the wine jerseys was weird, and the blue numbers on the home jerseys felt forced.
    The Price-Daugherty-Nance era jerseys are timeless. Best logo/font of all-time, simple color scheme and jersey design.

  • JeBron_Lames
  • Steinomite

    these were my favorite CavFanatic ones:

  • Steinomite
  • Sam

    Significant color change has actually been pretty consistent in the NBA. Mid-late 90s Pistons, Iverson era Sixers, late 90s Kings, current Nuggets, currents Nets, Raptors, Bucks (losing the purple), Warriors (navy and orange during Baron Davis days) and Wizards (going back to Bullets style) have all made pretty significant changes in recent history.

  • WFNYKirk

    Very true, but most of those have been keeping one color the same (maybe a different shade) at least. My point was that no team that I could think of has had two completely different color schemes for 20+ years each.

  • I’m forever partial to the orange & blue. Give me these:




  • Justin

    I’m a big fan of certain things from each era. script Cavaliers is just fantastic, the current wine jersey is nice. I also love the basket v in Cavs on the Orange jerseys. ifI has my preference we would do a wine, white, (with scriptCavaliers on both) then Orange and blue alternates with the basket v Cavs. I think Cleveland has a bunch of nice uniforms in general with the Indians bluesandthe Brown’s all whites. theCavs seem to always have at least one above average uniform so I can’t really complain.

  • The wine & gold would be fine if they were actually wine or gold instead of ketchup and mustard. I do enjoy this logo though:

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I couldn’t agree more with everyone who says that the Cavs’ current colors are ketchup and mustard. I have no idea why they went away from the wine and gold from the LeBron days. Of the current jerseys, I like the blue Cavs fanatic jerseys a lot (sorry Jaker, I dig them). I’m most partial to the blue and orange jerseys of the Mark Price era, but that probably has more to do with those being the jerseys of my formative years.

  • ThatAlex

    LeBron era jerseys were the best. They were like basketball royalty…you associated that design with dominant winning. Also helped that they resembled Lakers jerseys, if they had a wine, gold and blue color scheme. I loved them to death.

  • just turrible

    What, nobody else loves the winged “Cavaliers” as much as I?
    I like the current unique ketchup and mustard they have going on (agree with the writer that gold should be the primary) but it blows my mind why they go with either the ugly block letters (jagged would only be slightly more palatable).
    Maybe add the alternating bits from the 70s sleeves to the above uniform and your timeless look is good to go. It would also work with the light blue and orange