With the NBA All-Star Game just around the corner, Salt Lake City is gearing up for a weekend full of pomp and fanfare. From the 3-Point Contest to the celebrity game, there’s no shortage of entertainment on the agenda.
The weekend is also a chance to highlight the host city, and no better place to start than the jerseys. While some years have opted to go with a traditional All-Star theme, the 2023 jerseys lean into the unique topography of Utah, contrasting the sunsets and sunrises.
But how do they measure up to past editions?
Here’s a look at some of the best and worst All-Star Game jerseys.
2014; 2017 - New Orleans
There’s so much potential for an event in New Orleans around Mardi Gras, which is why 2014 was such a disappointment. Between the cap sleeves and clunky fleur-de-lis, this was just a miss across the board.
Three years later, the NBA moved the All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans in response to North Carolina’s discriminatory laws against the LGBT community. Whether it was due to a condensed timeline or some other shortage in creativity, the 2018 jerseys were another loss for the Big Easy.
2004 - Los Angeles
One year removed from classic throwback jerseys, the NBA strayed too far.
The 2004 jerseys included the conference in diagonal lettering, complete with the jersey number on the left shoulder. It had potential to be cutting edge and creative, but ended up more closely resembling a middle-school Word Art project.
2018 - Los Angeles
The City of Angels has been home to several flop jerseys, most recently the monochrome set in 2018.
Meant to be a callback to the turn of the century when players wore their specific team’s jerseys, the NBA revealed a series of black-and-white jerseys featuring only their franchise’s logo. While the simple design avoids falling into the category of egregious, it was simply too underwhelming for an All-Star Weekend.
Despite negative reviews, the league doubled-down the following season in Charlotte by keeping the core design of 2018. They did however, make some necessary improvements, adding a colored trim and three stars to create some intrigue around the jerseys.
2007 - Las Vegas
Vegas might not have an NBA team, but it certainly made a strong case for the city’s entertainment value, starting with one of the sleekest jerseys in the history of the game.
The 2007 All-Star jersey, worn by the likes of Dirk Nowitzki, Yao Ming, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, featured the conference names in a script. The text was complimented by a diamond design on the sides, giving it the perfect balance of class and creativity.
1995 - Phoenix; 1996 - San Antonio
This is a divisive duo, but I think it perfectly embodies the best elements of the All-Star Weekend. At its core, it’s a low-stakes exhibition of how entertaining the tenants of basketball can be and a chance to showcase an NBA market.
There’s no better way to do that than through the jerseys worn and the ‘95/’96 duo absolutely knocked it out of the park.
The 1995 version highlighted Arizona’s desert climate. Meanwhile, San Antonio carried on the tradition by prominently the city’s many hispanic influences including the Alamodome, chile peppers and a fiesta trim.
1977 - Milwaukee
While the All-Star Game has long been synonymous with red and blue, there’s no shortage of other colors.
One of the most notable examples was the 1977 edition held in Milwaukee. Similar to this year’s jersey inspired by the Utah landscapes, this jersey took a direct page out of the host’s book, adopting the Bucks’ iconic green as one of the primary colors.