Star Gazing

All-star games present a tough choice: Do you let the players wear their regular uniforms, as Major League Baseball does, resulting in a crazy quilt of designs, or do you come up with a pair of generic all-star unis and hope nobody notices that they're even worse than last year's? With three of the four major sports having held their all-star games within the past month, here's a look at how they fared:

  • NFL: The problem with the Pro Bowl is that the NFC always wears blue and the AFC always wears red, but the players wear their regular-season helmets, causing serious color-coordination problems—just try not looking stupid out there in a Jets or Packers helmet. Things only get worse when the league tries to get "creative," as they did with this year's unis, which featured an embarrassingly bad color-gradation motif. Fortunately, as we all know by now, nobody watches the Pro Bowl anyway.

  • NBA: After umpteen years of using East and West all-star uniforms, the NBA began having its players wear their regular-season unis (with a special all-star patch, of course) a few seasons back. Uni Watch approves—the old conference uniforms were getting more ridiculous each season, and the multiplicity of designs now gives the court a cool melting-pot effect. Meanwhile, in keeping with the sports world's long-running tradition of using all-star games to showcase new footgear designs (remember Derek Jeter's white-on-black spats in the '99 mid-summer classic?), Kobe Bryant wore a cool pair of gold (eponymous) sneakers this year, although it wasn't clear if this was part of his footwear-endorsement deal or just his latest way of trying to upstage Shaq.

  • NHL: Last season's all-star unis were such a hit that the league smartly decided to stick with them this year. They're beautifully simple: horizontal blocks of color with nothing on the front except the NHL shield and an all-star logo, both positioned off-center so as not to be too obtrusive. Since the hockey all-star squads are arranged according to the players' home countries, instead of by their conference affiliations, each player has a nifty little sleeve patch of his nation's flag. Everyone wears stripe-patterned all-star helmets, made specifically for the game (are you listening, Paul Tagliabue?). Best of all, the World team's jerseys have—get this—a polo collar, which sounds lame-o but actually looks pretty neat. Way to go, NHL. Maybe next year you can do something about the short pants.
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