Hear me, Mavericks fans! Hear me! The Dallas Mavericks new City Edition jerseys…are good.
Please! Please! Everyone! There is no need for shouting! Unless you also like them, in which case please continue.
When Nike took over jersey design and manufacturing duties for the NBA, fans league-wide, and certainly in Dallas, grew excited about the promise of fresh new designs for their teams. And, it’s true, that promise was fulfilled for many.
Like, take a look at these! Aw, yeah.
Hit me again.
Nice, nice. How about a throw back?
An All-Time Classic.— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 30, 2019
The return of The Dino. Coming soon. pic.twitter.com/RGYaMC0yvy
Damn, that rules.
So! Surely the Mavs, whose jerseys are feeling more long in the tooth than perhaps any other franchise, would get something fresh and edgy. Not a classic, storied enough franchise to get by on legacy like the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls or even Knicks, but also not having had a meaningful update since Cuban bought the team in 1999, surely they would be in line for a fresh new set of threads? Well, let me ask you, could I interest you in one of the following?
Oh, no? Then surely, this beauty?
I see. Well, all of this to say... Dallas’ jerseys have been boring for a long time. And when they haven’t been boring, they’ve been pretty bad. Sometimes historically so. (Gaze here, ye who dare, and despair.) And for the past 3 years, the fanbase, or at least the vocal “extremely online” portion, has not been shy about feeling let down by our crop of jerseys.
Those who harbored said feeling of jersey-based restlessness no doubt were not assuaged by the team’s initial new jersey offering; this year’s ironically-named “Statement” jersey.
On the one hand, what’s not to like? It’s a navy blue jersey. On the other hand, what’s to like? It’s literally just a navy blue jersey.
But forgive me, forgive me. I’ve been dwelling on the negative and perhaps buried the lede here. Because what this article is about is a joyous reveal of the Mavericks 2020 “City Edition” jersey.
Look at it.
My god, it’s magnificent. And it’s magnificent because of it’s complete departure from damn near every thing that’s come before it. The Mavericks, as a franchise, are a model of stability. We have one of the longest tenured coaches in Rick Carlisle. Similarly, Donnie Nelson has long been a mainstay in the front office. Then, of course, until this season, we had the honor of calling Dirk Nowitzki a Maverick for a record-setting 21 years. A record which will likely never be broken.
With that stability has come a sense of, let’s say, conservatism, in jersey design. Nothing wrong with that, perhaps. But if we were being less kind, we might dare to venture so far as to call it complacency. Complacency. Yech. Something that seems so passive, and yet, is so ruinous. It has no place in nearly any exalted aspect of our society, and even less of a place in sports, which, let’s not forget, is supposed to be entertaining. Occasionally euphoric, too-often painful, but always entertaining. Go take a look at those City Edition jerseys again.
Are you not entertained?
In a vacuum, if one were to simply look at that jersey and pass a judgement based on things like “good design,” and “tactful use of color,” and “professionalism,” well, then... no. No, it’s none of those things. But I’ll be damned if that thing isn’t weird as hell. And being weird is something that this franchise has shied away from for too long. Who knows why? Perhaps still feeling a bit gun shy after the shimmery silver abominations? Jerseys that were dumped in to the garbage with such fervor after being worn for a single game that they now fetch large sums of money because of their badness-enduced rarity status.
In that sense, these new jerseys can’t really be appreciated without really knowing where we’ve come from. Seeing these jerseys reminds me of an absolutely fantastic Twitter thread on the symbolism of Flemish still life paintings.
To the untrained eye of the museum-going laity, these pictures are largely just tables piled up with random bits of garbage. Art? Sure, I guess so. It is a painting after all. But the true beauty and meaning of the art cannot be fully appreciated until you learn the secret code. The, “wink-wink, nudge-nudge,” have-to-know-the-secret-password-to-get-into-the-bar of it all. After all isn’t a painting of fruit just a painting of fruit?
NO.— Iron Spike @ Thought Bubble! (@Iron_Spike) March 31, 2019
Because those aren't strawberries, asparagus, or artichokes. Those are MEDLARS, you ASSHOLE.
These Mavs jerseys share a common bond with those Flemish paintings in that by knowing the history surrounding it, you are able to access a much deeper, more richly rewarding experience when you look at it.
When you see this City Edition jersey, and when you are able to place it in history, even against something as recent as this year’s Statement kit, one thing becomes undeniable: this is an absolutely absurd thing to make a professional athlete wear. And yet, unavoidably, they will.
It’s a complete hodgepodge of aesthetics. 90’s “Fresh Prince” inspired lettering, MS Paint gradients, the same numbers as our regular jerseys for some reason, and to top it all off, the blindingly-lime green that everyone hated when it was paired with black for the 2018 jerseys.
Yeah, the decision makers could’ve just done what seemingly every single person online who cares about the Mavericks jerseys wanted and just given us the green throwbacks from the Mavs time as a league bottom feeder. It’s not a bad look, but certainly not an era that deserves celebration.
Instead, what has been given to us is something so incredibly bizarre that we should feel lucky that it is allowed to exist. Anyone who has worked in an overly corporate environment can attest to how often the winning choice is the safest choice. Road less traveled? No thank you, sir. Not when the on ramp to the highway is just there. I can jump on the freeway with all the other cars, no problem, and from there it’ll be easy cruisin’. Why bother taking a chance when not taking a chance is an equally rewarding and less personally vulnerable option? It serves as such a severe dichotomy to the Mavericks standard modus operandi, that the question must be asked... why did they do this?
It’s a seemingly retro, 90s-inspired vibe that harkens back to... nothing. This reaches back to an era of time when the Mavericks existed, yes, but this style of jersey was nowhere near them. It’s a jersey from an invented past. An alternate history. Because, again, in the 90s, the Dallas Mavericks looked like this:
The marketing department saw that and, instead of acknowledging our own boringly tasteful past, they took control of their own story and rewrote it to say, “no. We were not boring. And, actually, we are cool now and have always been cool.” They’re crafting a new lore in real time, comicbook-style, retconning away any insinuation that they’ve ever been anything other than cutting edge. They saw how much people liked the Raptors throwbacks, looked at their own era-appropriate retro jerseys and said, “this is not a past that represents who we are now. Who we are now is more young, more fun and more vibrant than any emotions these jerseys could possibly evoke.” And they threw away the past and made a new one.
So, presumably filled with a new and heretofore unknown swagger, they went and found the guy who designed this thing and asked him to make us up a jersey.
God, that rules. That’s powerful. It’s admirable. It runs completely counter to what the Mavericks’ approach to jersey design has been for nearly two decades.
So, I guess...this whole thing...all of this is just to say. The new jerseys are good. They’re weird. So weird. Were they supposed to be? No, probably not. In a more boring reality where these jerseys don’t exist, some stuffy group of people in button-up collared shirts likely sat around a table, looked at this design, and thought it was something “the kids” would be in to. And, yeah, maybe they’re right about that. What do I know about jersey sales? I hope they sell a million of ‘em.
What I do know is that these jerseys are a miracle. Lightning in a bottle, truly. A single flap of a butterfly’s wings on the other side of the globe in the 1980s could’ve been enough to break the tenuous string of history that led us to the Dallas Mavericks 2019-20 City Edition jerseys. But against the odds, here they are. And you should appreciate that.