There is nothing wrong with the current Pacers jerseys. I actually think they look pretty sweet, particularly the road blues. But perhaps it is time for a change regardless? Ben Phillippe, a self-proclaimed “artist, filmmaker and Indiana Pacer fan,” certainly thinks so. In fact, he even put together the above, uber-impressive video to pitch a new design (via Indy Cornrows). The main goal of his re-design is putting a modern spin on several of the best aspects of past jerseys that worked. He goes back beyond the pinstripes and the so-called Flo Jos to merge the uber-popular ABA throwbacks the Pacers have been wearing at times this season (here, here and here) with the 1980s bold typeface. The result is pretty striking, and I wouldn’t mind at all seeing the team switch to these uniforms.
Regardless of whether it is these exact uniforms or not, however, should the team shake things up?
As mentioned, there is nothing wrong with the current uniforms. And I’m a big fan of maintaining a continuity that gives the team an iconic look that never changes. There is a reason that the Celtics, Lakers and Bulls are the best brands in the NBA. Their success probably has more to do with it than anything (and success probably does create a mentality inside the company to never change), but they also just the most recognizable from a purely aesthetics standpoint.
But unfortunately, the Pacers launched their current look the season after the brawl. And all the legal trouble and off-court problems in the ensuing years have tarnished them somewhat. I think the Brawl Era Pacers are probably more identifiable by the pinstripes since that is what Metta World Peace and Stephen Jackson were wearing when they went into the stands. The fact that World Peace, Jackson, Jamaal Tinsley, Marquis Daniels and even Jermaine O’Neal (not to mention Shawne Williams, David Harrison and Brandon Rush) wore the current ones, however, means that they came to signify both that era and the one that followed, which isn’t much fonder in the minds of most Pacers fans. Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Earl Watson, Jarret Jack and whatever other guys I won’t take the time to look up to remember weren’t exactly creating memories that Hoosiers will be telling their kids about it.
As the Pacers further try to put those two incarnations of the franchise in the past, perhaps it is time to do so with the uniforms as well. The brand has changed in terms of success, entertainment value and player character. Why not change what those players wear as well? It is what corporations have done, as Stringer Bell tries to explain here about Worldcom’s strategy after it was caught up in scandal: change the brand.
Moreover, the Pacers have already switched their look many times. The links above show the most revered looks. They have also managed to do so without ever making any horrible choices. That is unusual. Most teams, even teams that are well respected and usual look sharp, have had an era that makes you looks sideways. The Rockets and the Pistons, for example, both have had looks that make it seem like their front offices were run by blind people blighting their history. The Pacers do not.
So why not just keep being the team that mixes things up every few years but always looks top notch? Maybe that can be their thing.
Pacers fans did not show up in droves to support this team during the regular season. But by all accounts they showed up in droves and yelled their asses off on Saturday and Monday nights. The franchise is ready to undergo a new wave of relevancy as their winning, presumably, continues over the next few years and the Peyton Manning-less Colts turn back into an NFL also ran.
The front office should re-brand the team to help punctuate that a new era has begun.
UPDATE: Screen cap images for those too lazy to watch the video, via ESPN Playbook.