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Ranking the Nike “Statement” jerseys for every NBA team

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Nike is the new uniform sponsor of the NBA, and this week they released the new “Statement” jerseys for every NBA team. Marketing gibberish aside, what that really means is this is the third alternate for most teams.

We’ve now had a few days to process what the new jerseys look like for these squads, and it’s time to figure out which teams got a good deal and which are going to look ridiculous next year.

Yes, it’s time to rank the best Statement jerseys for every NBA team. However, it would be hard to put them in a strict numerical ranking, so instead I’ve decided to put each in one of three different categories.

The first are teams with a patently dope colorway or uniform combination. These are the good ones. The second are the openly awful, which seems to have forsaken a large swath of franchises this season, even after Nike took over for adidas. Finally, we have the boring. These teams sit in the middle of the pack, with no real impact. Some teams also landed there because they didn’t debut new alternates with Nike.

So without further ado, here are how the new Statement jerseys shook out for every NBA team. If you don’t like these, you still have the fourth colorway yet to be released here this year.

The Patently Dope

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Boston Celtics: The Celtics went with a cool black and green colorway here instead of going with some of the weirder combinations that were similar to this jersey in years past. Teams either go with too much black or not enough black, and this is just the right amount with some green still on it.

Charlotte Hornets: Look, the Hornets have had a new purple uniform for a few years but just how dope this rebrand has been from top to bottom is enough to put it in this category. Plus, how do you not love a jersey with the Jumpman logo on it?

Chicago Bulls: These black joints came back like Jordan wearing the 45.

Denver Nuggets: Let this be a notice to teams with cities whose skylines are not interesting. That is, make the whole thing a scene and not just some squares that nobody outside your market will recognize. This means you with your water stain/skyline floor, Cleveland.

Houston Rockets: Just about anything is an improvement for Houston, who have had some of the worst jerseys in the league since the Bobcats turned back into the Hornets. If Portland is any indication, having a black and red jersey will always be timeless.

Milwaukee Bucks: This is similar to jersey designs of years past for Milwaukee, but this is just too fresh to dismiss. That black, cream, and forest green colorway is incredible.

Philadelphia 76ers: Do I even have to explain this one? That script is legit.

The Boring

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Brooklyn Bkyln Nets: They’re black and white and have letters missing. Not exactly inspiring design work.

Cleveland Cavaliers: This one looked better as a concept than it did in person. The number and logo being the same size looks a little awkward, but the nod to the sponsor (and history) in Goodyear is cool.

Golden State Warriors: The tree logo is nice and of course it has its roots in the city. However, it doesn’t really look like it belongs on the front of a jersey. This is a cool t-shirt design.

Indiana Pacers: Indiana’s kit here is sort of hard to call but it is at least a move in the right direction for the Pacers, who have had a terrible streak of design missteps over the last two decades.

Memphis: Abolish the sports bra / shoulder pad thing. It looks weird. This goes for Washington, too.

Miami Heat: Same ‘ol, same ‘ol. Give me black, orange, and pink already.

LA Lakers: It’s purple.

New Orleans Pelicans: The Pelicans don’t have good colors. They need to go full French Quarter and stop coming up short. This one is also similar to jerseys from years past.

Toronto Raptors: Repeat. Pretty cool, but again black-and-red really only belongs to one team in this league.

Washington Wizards: I know everyone loves these jerseys but I think they are pretty boring. It’s fine, it’s grown on me.

The Openly Awful

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Atlanta Hawks: Atlanta’s rebrand continues to be hilariously terrible. This is Steve Nash Phoenix Suns bad.

Dallas Mavericks: The Dallas skyline isn’t nationally recognizable and we have to stop putting city outlines on courts and jerseys. These have a strong Team Blue From A Detergent Commercial vibe to them.

Detroit Pistons: Have you ever seen something this aggressively gray?

LA Clippers: The Clippers need to go back to their old script immediately.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Say it with me: Go Seahawks. Did Minnesota learn nothing from Atlanta rebranding with bright, neon colors? We might have to rethink watching a lot of Timberwolves games this year like we all planned.

New York Knicks: For as much as orange and blue is an “uncool” colorway, the Knicks have typically done their uniforms pretty well. This one misses the mark so bad it looks like I designed it.

Oklahoma City Thunder: These have to be gone after next year right? They are so hilariously bad it really gives Minnesota a run for their money. The schism in the front contrasted with the WordArt-style gradient on the back is a huge clash in design language. Not a great showing for the team who might already have the worst uniforms in the league.

Orlando Magic: There are two problems with the Orlando black alternate. First, there aren’t enough stripes on it. Just go back and look at some photos of what these are mimicking from the mid-90s. That’s why these look so weird, they have half the striping. Second, the jerseys are too wide at the shoulder and neck, making them look like a sweater vest. They say black is slimming but weird shoulders and wide set stripes actually make Orlando players look fatter somehow. These have to go, they are so close to getting it right.

Phoenix Suns: Right Click > Blending Options > Bevel & Emboss > Inner Bevel > Chisel Hard > OK.

Portland Trail Blazers: It’s pretty hard to find a way to mess up a red and black jersey, but the Blazers did it this year. It’s a double whammy given that Portland took the best alternate jersey in the league from last season and turned it into the worst. This uniform literally has tire tracks on the side of it. Hard pass.

Sacramento Kings: I am all for the Kings really leaning into their mascot and namesake, but loose weave chainmail isn’t doing it for me here.

San Antonio Spurs: Everyone likes to make Boring Spurs jokes but it is time somebody said it: we have to get rid of gray jerseys. They look like someone forgot to design anything. We can’t stand for this in the best sports league on Earth.

Utah Jazz: Two blues and one purple will forever be the best Utah Jazz color combination. You can’t tell me otherwise. Yellow and green is great, but you can’t stick navy blue in there and expect me not to point to a color wheel, eyebrows up and mouth agape. I’ve got no nostalgia for the old school Jazz colors, they need to ditch ’em ASAP.

Rockets easily overcome James Harden’s horrid shooting night, win Game 2 over Timberwolves

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James Harden shot 2-for-18 – the worst field-goal percentage (11%) on so many attempts in a playoff game in nearly a decade and the worst ever in a first-round game.

The Rockets still won by 20 because of their stout defense, a strong supporting star in Chris Paul and Harden’s foul-drawing ability.

Houston’s took a 2-0 series lead with a 102-82 win over the Timberwolves on Wednesday. Game 3 will be Saturday in Minnesota, but the top-seeded Rockets have seized firm control.

Every No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 seed to take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven first-round series have won it. There’s little reason to believe Houston will become the exception.

The Rockets are no longer as reliant on Harden, the likely MVP who seemed to wear down last postseason.

They buckled down defensively before letting up in a fourth quarter that was entirely garbage time. Houston forced more turnovers (16) than allowed assists (15) and contested shot after shot.

It’s becoming increasingly clear the Timberwolves have no quick solution to the Karl-Anthony Towns problem, and it’s not simply a matter of deciding to feed him more. Yes, he can get favorable post matchups against the Rockets’ switching scheme. But Minnesota lacks quality entry passers. The Timberwolves are also short on shooters and need him to spread the floor – even if that skill is less-helpful after a switch. Towns scored just five points in 24 minutes tonight.

His teammates were barely, if at all, better. The focus has turned to Towns, but this was a far-wider letdown.

On the other hand, Paul (27 points and eight assists) led Houston’s offense. Gerald Green (21 points and 12 rebounds) got hot. Even Harden (7-of-8 on free throws) chipped in thanks to his elite foul-drawing ability.

The Rockets aren’t always the most enjoyable team to watch, and that was the case tonight. Mostly, because they put this game out of reach long before it actually ended.

Donovan Mitchell outplays Thunder Big 3 in fourth, Jazz win to even series

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Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell had 13 points in the fourth quarter.

Oklahoma City’s big three — Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony — were 0-of-15 shooting in the fourth.

That, in a nutshell, is how the Jazz bounced back from a 19-0 Thunder run in the third quarter that had OKC in charge of the game. It’s how Utah got the win Game 2 win, 102-95, to even the series as it heads to Salt Lake City.

“There was a time out (after the OKC run) where there was a just a determination, and we felt like we would rely on our defense, and that’s what we did,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said after the game. “Donovan, obviously, his aggressiveness on the offensive end fueled us there.”

It was what fueled them all night. In Game 2, the Jazz defense was more settled and like itself than the opener, and that forced more isolation ball out of Oklahoma City — they had eight assists and nine turnovers in the first half. The Thunder were still getting buckets because Playoff P and Westbrook are just great scorers, but it wasn’t nearly as efficient as it had been.

For the Thunder, it was often the Russell Westbrook show, and he was scoreless in the second quarter and had just a couple of free throws in the fourth.

All of that made this a game it felt like the Jazz needed to win — there are few chances to steal a game on the road against a good team, and this was one. The game was defensive and played in Utah’s style.

Which is why it was devastating when the Thunder had their 19-0 third quarter run, turning a deficit into a 10-point lead. In that stretch, the Jazz missed shots, took a few bad ones, and turned the ball over in that run. Mitchell even missed an uncontested dunk in there.

When Mitchell struggled, other guys stepped up.

Derrick Favors had a huge game for Utah, finishing with 20 points and 16 rebounds, eight of them offensive. He was particularly impressive in the first half, when Mitchell struggled (with George draped all over him). Utah had nine offensive rebounds in the first half, six of those by Favors. Utah’s dominance on the glass was big for them, Utah got a second chance on 37.5 percent of their missed shots in the first half, which is far too high a percentage. Steven Adams battling foul trouble had a lot to do with that.

“The biggest thing for us, Derrick Favors played his ass off,” Mitchell said after the game. “When we were missing shots he was getting rebounds, I think he had a double-double almost at the half [note: he had 10 points, 8 rebounds at the half]. Without Fav we wouldn’t even be at this point.”

The other key was Ricky Rubio. He was being more judicious about when to shoot and was looking to set up teammates. However, when left open and able to shoot in rhythm, Rubio was hitting, he was 5-of-8 from three on his way to 22 points and nine assists. Rubio struggled with his shot inside the arc (1-of-8) but he hit the big buckets and kept the floor spaced when asked. he had seven fourth-quarter points.

But the fourth belonged to Mitchell, who showed exactly what he meant to this team all season — they are not in the postseason without him. Mitchell finished with 28 points to lead the Jazz.

For the Thunder, the shots that fell in Game 1 did not in Game 2, much as it has been night to night for this team all season. George had 18 points on 21 shots, Anthony had 17 points on 18 shots, and Westbrook had 19 points on 19 shots. Combine that with Adams being in foul trouble most of the night and it was not the Thunder’s game.

Now the onus is on them to steal one in Utah, starting Friday night.

LeBron James starts hot, scores 46 in Cavaliers’ Game 2 win over Pacers

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LeBron James attempted no shots in the first 10 minutes of Game 1.

Less than half that long into Game 2, he scored all of the Cavaliers’ points as they built a 16-1 lead over the Pacers.

LeBron dominated early, and Cleveland held on for a 100-97 Game 2 win Wednesday. The first-round series is now tied 1-1 with Game 3 Friday in Indiana.

LeBron finished with 46 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and two steals. It was his highest-scoring playoff game in his second Cavs tenure.

More than any point since he left Cleveland for the Heat, LeBron’s team is built for him to carry it singlehandedly. He was obviously always the leader and best player, but at times, he could let Dwyane Wade or Kyrie Irving cook. Now, LeBron has no teammates worth deferring to – only teammates who can flourish when LeBron positions them to succeed.

LeBron showed a willingness to accept that challenge tonight in a way he didn’t even in Game 1, when he had a triple-double. That bodes well for the Cavaliers as they undertake what they hope will be a long playoff run – and maybe even as they approach LeBron’s free agency.

But as well as LeBron played tonight, the Pacers battled back. Victor Oladipo missed a game-tying 3-pointer with 27 seconds left after Cleveland blew its coverage and left him open.

“We got lucky,” LeBron said. “We gave up a wide-open 3 to Oladipo, and he missed it. I’d rather be on time and on target than being lucky.”

Cleveland was also fortunate with Pacers coach Nate McMillan’s handling of Victor Oladipo’s early foul trouble.

McMillan sat Oladipo just more than a minute into the game. Oladipo picked up two quick fouls, but both were offensive – more fluky than indicative of a problem. During the regular season, Oladipo committed four fouls (necessary at that point to foul out tonight) every 58 minutes he played. Oladipo returned in the second quarter but got pulled again midway through the period with a third foul, a questionable call as Kevin Love jumped sideways into him on a shot. Oladipo committed three fouls (necessary at that point to foul out) every 44 minutes during the regular season.

Oladipo finished with three fouls. Indiana was +11 points in his 28 minutes and -14 points in the 20 minutes he sat.

That could bode well for the Pacers going forward. Many of the Cavs’ advantages tonight might not continue throughout the series. In particular, Kevin Love left the game late with a thumb injury.

But Cleveland’s biggest advantage remains: LeBron James. He showed tonight just how much that still matters.

Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, dies

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The Spurs may be in the playoffs, but all of that takes a backseat now for Gregg Popovich.

Spurs:

With deep regret the San Antonio Spurs announce that Erin Popovich, wife of Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich, passed away earlier today. Erin and Gregg were married for four decades and were blessed with two children and two grandchildren.

“We mourn the loss of Erin,” said Spurs General Manager RC Buford. “She was a strong, wonderful, kind, intelligent woman who provided love, support and humor to all of us.”

The organization asks media to respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

What devastating news. Hopefully, Popovich had time to make peace with this eventuality, but that doesn’t make it easy to handle.