Back in 2016, when the Cavs won the NBA title, they did so in an ugly black sleeved jersey. They wore the jerseys for a reason apparently — LeBron James gets what he wants — but it wasn’t a good look. There’s very little to like about this jersey other than the fact that Cleveland won a title in it.
Since then, the Cavs have made black a core part of the team’s visual identity and said as much when the new Nike jerseys came ahead of the 2017-18 season. That title, won in that color, made black a core team color right up there with wine and gold.
“Navy remains a complimentary color, while black is officially introduced as a new and permanent addition to the Cavaliers color palette,” the team’s press release announcing the changes read. “Black is a nod to the historic turning point in the 2016 NBA Finals when the Cavs wore their black-sleeved uniforms in games 5 and 7 of the NBA Finals when they beat the Warriors in Golden State. The Cavaliers were the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit en route to winning the NBA Championship.”
The resulting jersey, though. is worse than the sleeved jersey:
Something about this jersey is just off. Maybe it is the tire tread-esque look to the jersey. Maybe it’s the decision to do a soccer jersey-like branding with the ‘C’ logo placed over the numbers. Maybe it’s that, like the pervious black look, the wine and gold accents don’t exactly pop. Whatever it is, it isn’t working.
The intention behind the black jersey is good. The ‘C’ placement, for instance, is a version of the sleeved jersey ‘C’ logo placement. Considering how much the 2016 title meant and still means, trying to honor that in any way possible makes sense. Making black part of the team’s look isn’t even the worst idea — it just hasn’t been executed correctly.
To date, the Cavs themselves have not indicated when (or if) a jersey tweek is coming. League rules on how often a team can change its look certainly plays a part in that. When that day does come, a key part of the new look will have to be incorporating black in the right way. There are good ideas out there, but none yet that have made their way onto the court. The 2016 title, and the people who want to honor it, deserve a better look.