75 YEARS OF LEGENDS
75 years of championships and champions. 75 years of rebounds, dunks, 3s, no-look passes, and free throws. 75 years of logos. 75 years of uniforms.
75 years of greatness.
That is what the NBA and millions of fans around the world are celebrating throughout this landmark 75th anniversary season.
75 YEARS OF UNIFORMS
That’s where we come in.
From the blue and yellow of the Minneapolis Lakers to the gold and purple of the Los Angeles Lakers, and everything in between. The jerseys, the shorts, the warmups and the logos.
This is the story that we tell, and we’ve been telling, since Hardwood Classics were launched in 1996 as part of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary. It is our honor and pleasure to continue to tell this story today, and for 75 more years to come.
THE FIRST 25 YEARS
In the NBA’s first 25 years (1946-71), the early legends of the game were established. George Mikan of the Minneapolis Lakers was one of the first NBA superstars, leading his team to five championships: 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954.
As we move into the late 50’s and 60’s, the battles between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers legends take over. For the Lakers, there was Jerry West, nicknamed “Mr. Clutch” and the acrobatic scorer, Elgin Baylor. Baylor joined the league in 1958, as the Lakers played their final two seasons in Minnesota. West began his legendary career when the Lakers moved west to Los Angeles for the 1960-61 season.
The two future Hall of Famers led the Lakers to six finals appearances in the 1960’s, but the title didn’t reside in LA until 1972, one year after Baylor’s retirement.
Joining West that year would be Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain, who once scored 100 points in a single game. Wilt was one of the greatest scorers and rebounders of all time, averaging as high as 50 points and over 25 rebounds per game in a season with his former team, the Philadelphia Warriors.
Before finally winning a championship in 1972, the Lakers were six-time runners up as one of the biggest NBA legends of them all stood in their way. Literally. Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics. His resumé is in itself legendary. 11 x NBA Championships, 5x League MVP, 4x Rebounding Champ. In 2009, then NBA Commissioner David Stern renamed the Finals MVP Award the “Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Award”, a gesture befitting Russell’s status as one of the league’s all-time greats.
50 YEARS OF THE NBA
As the league moved into its second 25 years (1972 - 96), the game began to expand across the world. Contributing to the NBA’s status as a global game were some of the greatest players to ever step onto a hardwood court. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, and Larry Bird to name a few.
Magic and Kareem would form the The Showtime Lakers, one of the most exciting teams in league history. This iconic tandem showcased “magical” flashy passes and one of the greatest scorers ever, on the same team. As the pioneer of the “skyhook,” Abdul-Jabbar would become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, with 38,387 total points.
The Lakers and Celtics would battle throughout the 80’s, with Bird’s Celtics taking 3 championships and Magic’s Lakers winning 5. Boston and Los Angeles dominated the era.. until two teams would go head-to-head in a new rivalry. Isiah Thomas’ “ Bad Boys” Pistons and Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls.
In the 1990’s, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls elevated the game of basketball to new heights. While the NBA reached massive popularity during the 80’s with the Showtime Lakers and Boston Celtics, Jordan propelled the league to a global phenomenon.
From his early rivalry with Isiah Thomas’ aggressive Pistons, to leading the 1992 Olympic Dream Team to gold, “MJ” had millions of fans around the world buying his jerseys and waiting for his next move. He would “three-peat” twice in his career for a total of 6 championships, with teammate Scottie Pippen and later on, Dennis Rodman.
Jordan’s style and attitude on the court were just as inspiring to fans as his play was. With coordinated accessories like arm and leg bands, basketball fans everywhere wanted to emulate his fashion. Michael Jordan’s jerseys became immortalized with each accolade and legendary performance he recorded wearing them.
We are proud to re-envision these historic, global moments with jerseys that are authentic to the ones legendary players like Jordan wore on the court.
THE LAST 25 YEARS
With the iconic style and play of the Chicago Bulls, basketball culture was taking over streetwear and fashion in the late 1990’s. When our hometown Philadelphia 76'ers very own Allen Iverson stepped on the court in 1996, NBA fashion would never be the same again.
Sporting shooting sleeves, headbands and cornrows, “AI” pushed the limits of the NBA on and off the court. His style and fashion sense took the streetwear industry by storm, with his impact still being felt to this day.
By the time the early 2000’s arrived, Mitchell & Ness had become giants in the world of sports apparel. Celebrities and sports enthusiasts alike began to wear their favorite players’ authentic jerseys as a statement. Fueling the evolution of streetwear, Our Hardwood Classic, Cooperstown Collection and Throwback retro jerseys were coveted by athletes and artists from around the globe. By tying glorious legacies of the past to modern moments throughout NBA history, every stitch of every garment we make serves a passionate purpose. That the nostalgic days gone by deserve to be captured and recreated in the truest and most authentic way possible.