The basketball world is lucky enough to be in a fairly acceptable era of NBA jersey style. After the maximalist days of the mid-'90s, the designs of the past decade-plus have tended towards the simple and refined, with franchises opting to represent themselves with a few simple colors, some basic lettering, and maybe an inconspicuous, non-garish logo for a bit of differentiation. There's nary a flaming chess piece to be seen.
Unfortunately, fashion trends can ossify when the culture goes too long without a shift in standards. Most NBA franchises haven't updated their uniforms in some time, and the minimalist look has become a little too prevalent, and therefore overly familiar. The Dallas Mavericks, for instance, haven't updated their look since the 2001-02 campaign, Mark Cuban's second full season as owner. What was once a great improvement could now use a change, lest things eventually get stale.
Always one to get out ahead of trends, Cuban has recognized the need for a change. So, as announced on his personal blog on Monday, he wants fans to provide their ideas for the team's new uniforms set to debut in the 2015-16 season (all typos and grammatical errors are as they appear on Cuban's blog):
The Mavs are going to re-do our uniforms for the 2015-16 season… if we get a unique and original design. What’s the best way to come up with creative ideas ? You ask for them. So we are going to crowd source the design and colors of our uniforms.
You know what an NBA uniform looks like. You know what the Mavs colors are for today and the past. We want some new ideas that stay true to our logo and at least close to our current color schemes. Show us what you got !
How do you participate ? You post your ideas/pictures/graphics/videos/photos directly on this blog. Yes we want every one to see them. Steve Jobs said “everything is a remix” . Uniforms probably more so than even technology. So we want every post to inspire other ideas and posts.
Who will own your design ? The minute you post it, the Mavs will. If you think its horrible that the Mavs own your design. Do not post. If you think its cool that the Mavs could possibly use your design and you will have eternal bragging rights , then post away. If we really like your design and you , I may even throw in some tickets. If we don’t use your design, it will still be here on this site for now and ever more for you to glance longingly at. If your design is close , if not identical to other designs and we pick one of the other designs, for whatever reason, then thats just the way it goes.
If we don’t choose any of the designs,including yours.then we don’t choose any of the designs. That is life in the big city. Move on.
The Mavericks have sought outside help on uniforms before — as noted by Trey Kerby at The Basketball Jones, Diddy once designed an alternate uniform — but this is a very different way of looking for help. In effect, Cuban has opened up the design process (until the end of May, at least) in the hopes of finding an idea or artist that might not otherwise have been involved.
While the ethics of not paying the designer are questionable (to Cuban's credit, he's upfront about the arrangement), this is a great way to ensure the Mavs will end up with the best uniforms possible. For one thing, it's not a contest, so the team isn't obligated to choose a lackluster design in the name of fan outreach. Plus, as we learned when the New Orleans Hornets announced their new existence as the Pelicans, fan designs can often be better than their professionally commissioned counterparts. And if the Mavs do get a great uniform out of these submissions, they'll likely get something unique and avoid some of the same-ness that typifies sports jerseys.
At the very least, Cuban has made a bold move to bring new ideas into the design process. It's an open question as to whether the best designers will want to hand over their ideas for free, but it's nice to see an owner who considers other methods of finding the best solution to a problem.