Monday, December 10, 2012

Jersey Monday: Miami Heat "White Hot" Jerseys

Jersey Monday is usually a feature I use to spotlight a jersey from my own personal collection, but I need to take a bit of a detour and discuss the latest addition to the Miami Heat's official jersey lineup, the "White Hot" jersey.

I know some Heat fans love these jerseys, and some -- while not liking them -- at least see them as an improvement over last year's "Back in Black" jerseys (aka the "Tron" jerseys). But I can't stand them.

The White Hot jerseys aren't the worst jerseys in the NBA, not by a long shot, but they represent three horrible trends in jersey creation, wrapped up in one uniform:

  1. over-proliferation of alternate jerseys
  2. turning "fashion" jerseys into actual on-court products
  3. monochromatic-ness (which isn't a word, but whatever)

When teams started to really dive into the "alternate" jersey trend, they were frequently referred to as the team's "third" jersey, because that's what they were. Teams had home, road and a third, which was most often worn on the road. The Heat were one of those teams from very early on, with the red third jersey joining the white and black jerseys in '95-96. After changing their jerseys to their current style in '99, they'd occasionally break out "throwbacks" to their early years. Still not so bad. But in the past couple years they've had home, road, red alternates, "Latin Nights" El Heat jerseys, Back in Black, ABA Floridians (in both black and white) and now the White Hots.

Both the Back in Black and White Hot jerseys made their debuts at retail long before they were worn on the court. In fact, if you go to the Heat's official store right now, you'll see a bunch of jersey styles that aren't worn on the court -- static, flames, camo, etc. There's obviously a market for these kinds of jerseys, but that doesn't mean they make good on-court products.

In fact, the White Hot jersey is a very bad on-court product from one perspective: readability. In the promo picture seen above, it's easy to read the names and numbers, but that's a static, non-moving promo photo (and one that I'd suggest has had its contrast enhanced). I can tell you from experience that during the game from any distance more than a few rows from the court, the fronts of these jerseys are unreadable, and the backs are almost as bad.

The material used is partly to blame (last year's Back in Black jerseys had more contrast because they were on dazzle fabric, rather than the matte polyester of the traditional Adidas Rev30), but it's mostly because color-on-color (or no color-on-no color) is not a good design idea for reading text. Imagine how much harder this post would be to read if all the text was the same color as the background, with a small outline differentiating them. It's only going to get worse on Christmas when all 10 teams in action will be wearing monochrome looks.

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