I still remember the game, October 28th, 2003. As a sophomore out at Pepperdine University, I had gone to a fraternity/sorority mixer at a place called Yankee Doodles in Santa Monica California. Surrounded by far too many Laker fans, I was feeling arrogant. The 2003-04 season was going to be a good one for Dallas. I was sure of it.
Then these appeared on the bar television screen. Then I saw Danny Fortson was the starting center against Shaquille O’Neal. Things went downhill immediately.
The silver uniforms paired with one of the few bad Dirk Nowitzki haircuts should have been an additional warning. The Lakers proceeded to blow the Mavericks out in the first quarter, 29-15. It was ugly early and stayed ugly the entire game. Dallas lost the game 109-93. I had to swallow my pride, enduring grief both for the walloping the Lakers gave the Mavericks but also for the really ugly looking uniforms the Mavericks work.
While the material and color of the jersey looked pretty good on the rack and not bad on the players pre-game, once game action sweat and arena lighting paired together with the jersey, the silver-grey morphed to resemble a wet trash bag.
The jerseys were never seen in live action again. Former Mavs Moneyball Editor-in-Chief did a deep dive into the whereabouts and the story behind the jerseys back in 2017, I recommend reading the whole thing.
After just one game, the Dallas Mavericks moved on from their then new grey jerseys. Cuban told USA Today over email in 2003, “It wasn’t a costly decision at all. In this case the uniforms didn’t look on the court like we expected them to and we decided to go in another direction.”
This was one of many Maverick experiments in uniforms in the 2000s. Though in retrospect there weren’t many iconic looks, it’s likely this kind of high profile failure of a product design (along with the on-court blowout) made Dallas somewhat skittish in bolder designs for years. While we’ve since seen some fairly unattractive mistakes in jersey design like the most recent city edition, they’re not on the level of those 2003 jerseys.
Those jerseys and that night left a mark on both the Dallas Mavericks and my college experience. It was one of the many moments being a Dallas fan in southern California during Kobe’s peak on-court performance years that made the 2011 playoff sweep all the sweeter. Still, that night and those jerseys will never leave me. Let’s hope such a confluence of disaster never befalls the Mavericks in such a manner ever again.