Grading the Detroit Pistons' New Alternate Jersey

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2013

Just when you thought the Detroit Pistons' summer was all about Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings, now the organization's making some changes that really matter—at least to those of us who care about the finer jerseys in life.

The Pistons unveiled a new alternate uniform on Wednesday. In addition to using a much darker shade of blue, the big innovation here is the "MOTOR CITY" slapped across the front. According to the Detroit Free Press' James Jahnke, the Pistons will be donning these for Sunday home games—which is also to say, not enough.


Well played, Detroit. While remaining faithful to the basic blue-and-red principles of Pistons design, the alternate comes across bold and simple—more so even as a traditional look. In an era when flashy jerseys often come at the expense of classy jerseys, Detroit wisely played it relatively safe here.

Mercifully, there's no camouflage.

The "MOTOR CITY" bit is an obvious but entirely effective attempt to resonate with a community that's been so thoroughly defined by its auto heritage for better or for worse. Now if we can just get Clint Eastwood doing the play-by-play.

Anyone following the club closely might have noticed something was up a day earlier when this photo showed up on the Pistons' Twitter account:

When compared to the lighter blue, you get the feeling these alternates were made for grown-ups. These are jerseys the team can wear out on the town, formal attire for those special occasions when you dress to impress.

Even if that doesn't sell you, this will:

In other words, the new look could be much, much worse. It could be teal. 

Detroit deserves credit for resisting that '90s nostalgia. It also deserves credit for sparing us the brightness, yellowness and pain the Denver Nuggets inflicted upon this fair league. Anything less yellow than these automatically passes muster in my book.

But besides being better than awful, how does Detroit's latest attempt at fashion immortality stack up?


Design: B+

Thanks to the dark, subtle blue and the vintage font used on "MOTOR CITY," we're in business. The only reason these jerseys don't get an "A" is the red piping, which—while pretty tame—just strikes me as the wrong shade of red by a fraction. I'm not sure how I'd fix that, but I'm intrigued by the possibility of a darker, blood red...something as understated and sharp as that blue.


Message: A+

As someone who's never built a car and religiously avoids looking at whatever's going on under the hood, I really have no idea what a piston is. If it were explained to me 10 times (with pictures), I'd probably still be confused. To that end, Detroit's "MOTOR CITY" alternative is a user-friendly gesture that the mechanically challenged can still appreciate.


Intangibles: A 

Nice timing. This could be the season when the Pistons finally start giving Detroiters hope instead of another reason to move. You could even argue it was time for a more robust change, perhaps an adjustment to the logo—something to really communicate, "No, really, we think Joe Dumars might have gotten it right this time."

He just might have.