CRAWFORD | Uniform justice: Should Louisville wear throwbacks full time?
Eric Crawford asks the question: Should the uniforms Louisville wore in Sunday's win over Syracuse be more than a throwback look?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — When it comes to fashion, you won’t hear much advice coming from me.
The clothes you see me wearing on the news? They mostly fall into the category of “first thing I could find that didn’t need to be ironed.” I was on the cover of the Voice Tribune’s fashion issue once. The suit, alas, was off the rack.
Nonetheless, we all have opinions on uniforms. They are trivial, sure, yet still important -- in an unimportant kind of way. If you're not a sports fan, you're probably not going to understand.
When it comes to uniforms, some of us are traditionalists. Some are full-on Oregon Ducks — change them every game. Generally, I find that age dictates where on that spectrum you fall.
What I’m getting around to is what we’ve seen the past two games from the University of Louisville basketball team. And what we’ve seen, in the humble opinion of this fashion consultant, is what should be the default uniform design for the Cardinals’ basketball team.
That they happen to be “throwback” uniforms should not matter.
There are a lot of things tied up in this uniform discussion. Often I find that the sports uniforms that appeal to me are the ones teams wore in my youth, when I was more fan than journalist.
The University of Kentucky basketball uniforms of the late 1970s or early 1990s. The uniforms the Wildcats were wearing when Christian Laettner made his iconic shot are the best look the program has had.
Likewise, the uniforms that harken back to Louisville’s glory days, the phenomenal run from 1980 to 1986, carry a lot of meaning to me.
The dunking Cardinal bird. The cream colored home uniforms with red lettering and the dunking Cardinal logo say to me “Louisville basketball.” I’ve never been comfortable with the new “Louisville” font.
Sometimes, I’ve felt like adidas has been messing with the program. The “infrared” uniforms U of L wore during its 2012 Final Four run were an affront to the school’s actual color scheme — until the Cardinals actually went to the Final Four in them, then they were fine.
Then they were gone. Such is the role of college basketball uniforms. Often, college teams are the vehicle through which athletic gear companies model the next line of AAU uniforms.
Hence, the pajama bottoms the Cards wore to win the national title in 2013. Never has a team so good worn something that looked so hideous. Thankfully, Pitino’s 1996 Kentucky team wore the white version of its denim uniforms while winning the national title.
I acknowledge that my fashion sense may be way off. I have a soft spot for the Cincinnati Reds uniforms of the 1970s. Can’t help it. You mess much with the Reds uniforms, I’m out. But those uniforms, in reality, were pretty bad.
In my view, the best uniforms in sports are the ones that don’t change. And those programs who have developed consistent looks have an air of tradition about them. I know, that doesn’t really help the apparel manufacturers. I know, this is a vain hope where Louisville basketball is concerned.
But think about it. Green Bay Packers. Pittsburgh Steelers. Boston Celtics. New York Knicks. Los Angeles Lakers. New York Yankees. Chicago Cubs. Boston Red Sox.
In college basketball, the best you can hope for is sight variations for the most iconic programs: North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky and Kansas all have pretty good current looks, with tweaks from year to year. UCLA is pretty consistent. Indiana has it right.
Athlon Sports, in a story earlier this month, called what adidas has done with Louisville uniforms a “traveshamockery.” Whatever that is. The cummerbund horizontal stripe. The mini-sleeved jerseys.
Earlier this month, Louisville passed Indiana to move into the No. 10 spot for all-time college basketball victories. As a member of the Top 10, maybe it’s time for the program to settle down, to adopt a base uniform look that is easily recognizable and which points to the program’s past.
For that, there’s no better look than the one the Cardinals have been wearing for the past week. The dunking Cardinal logo harkens back to the Doctors of Dunk. The uniform is simple and classy.
Sure, you can mix in some alternates now and then (adidas, by the way, missed an opportunity at Ali tribute uniforms this season — white shorts, single black stripe, black belt line, with similar jersey design.)
Regardless, after suffering through the crazy looks adidas has foisted on the program over the past decade, Louisville fans deserve some uniform sanity. The school doesn’t have a great deal of say in all this. You wear pretty much what you’re contracted to wear.
Still, here's one vote for what we saw this past week being the Louisville look. The votes that count, however, belong to recruits -- so don’t hold your breath.
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