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.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 27, 2001