The NBA is the the best in the big four sports at a lot of things. They by far and away have the best commissioner in Adam Silver, they lead the charge in the “bubble” phenomenon while getting their sport back on track during the pandemic, and have been for the most part the league least afraid to take stands on both social and political issues.
They also are not afraid to get weird with it when it comes to uniforms, which I respect. Don’t get me wrong, I love the traditional uniforms of Alabama football, Yankee baseball, etc. But getting out of your comfort zone is always a good thing, both in uniforms and in life. In recent years, the NBA has begun creating new uniforms for teams, calling them “City Edition” jerseys that are meant to show “team history and unique city stories.” The 2021 versions were fully released today, and boy are they something.
Even though it seems like the NBA season ended last week, it will be back on Christmas Day. Bring on The Association and all of the great, and not so great, “City Edition” jerseys that come with it.
Being a sports fan is one of the best things in the world. Putting your time, effort, and hope into something completely out of your control lets us as fans experience the highest highs and the lowest lows. Another great part of being a fan of a team is the traditions. This could be anything from a certain chant at a game, a simple “Go ____” when you see a stranger wearing your team’s gear out in public, or throwing out a hashtag on social media when the game starts to show support.
But what are the best traditions we’ve seen? In no particular order…
Notre Dame: Play Like a Champion Today
Say what you will about Notre Dame, this sign is great. Simple, succinct, and certainly motivational. Each of the Irish football players gives a quick tap to the sign before taking the field. The origins of this sign are a bit hazy, but former coach Lou Holtz reinstated the sign placement while he was head coach and it doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere anytime soon.
Milwaukee Brewers: The Sausage Race
In the early 1990’s, The Brewers began this gag as a virtual race on their scoreboard. Originally, it was only a three way race between Bratwurst, Polish, and Italian. In the mid-90’s, Hot Dog made his debut. The lineup became complete in 2006, when Chorizo was installed into the competition. Rumors have swirled that actual Brewer players have donned a sausage suit from time to time to join in on the festivities.
The Ohio State University: Dotting the I
At the end of every pregame performance from Ohio State’s marching band, they write out “Ohio” in script, as seen above. The ultimate honor for a marching Buckeye is to “dot the I.” The honor is typically reserved for an upperclassman sousaphone player, and was first performed in 1936.
Kentucky Derby: Call To Post
Can’t you hear this picture? Let me try and get phonetic here, it goes something like this:
This magic little diddy always gets me so jacked up, and makes me losing my annual Trifecta bet a little easier to accept.
The University of Iowa: The Wave
Self-imposed bias here, but this one might be one of the best traditions we have in sports today. Starting in 2017, after a social media suggestion, Iowa fans turned and waved to the patients at the top floor of Children’s Hospital overlooking Kinnick Stadium at the end of every first quarter. The kids often make signs and messages to put on the windows in a response to the fan’s wave.
It’s a truly moving tradition, and if you haven’t had the chance to participate or see it live, here’s a great example.
Chicago Bulls: Player Introductions
The slow building theme song, terrible CGI Bulls running through Chicago landmarks, Benny the Bull waving the Bulls flag at center court, absolutely iconic. If you were a team visiting The United Center in the 90’s, you were basically down by 10 as soon you heard this song come over the loud speakers. Unfortunately, the Bulls continued using this intro after the Jordan era, kind of watering down the tradition. This is one that should have been retired as soon as MJ, Phil, and the dynasty as we all knew it left town (speaking of the end of the Jordan era, if you haven’t checked out our review of “The Last Dance,” check it out here).
Touching a sign, blowing a horn, or simply waving a hand. All things that would seem to be normal activities. But when they are included in sports, these simple tasks can take on a whole new meaning that can be appreciated by competitors and fans alike. There are thousands of sports traditions out there, which ones did we miss?