In keeping with modern custom, many teams will temporarily shelve their practice uniforms next Thursday and don St. Paddy's Day outifts, a harmless enough gimmick pioneered by the Reds in 1978 (although in more recent years they've taken a lazier approach). Uni Watch's advice: Skip the green beer and get yourself a Shamrock Shake, another one of spring's great rituals.
Uni Watch reader Richard Polk is walking a little prouder these days, and with good reason. He's the rare fan who can say he's had a direct effect on a player's uniform.
To explain: Polk recently pointed out to Uni Watch that while most of the Indiana Pacers wear the team's "P" logo at the base of their road shorts, Stephen Jackson's shorts had been logo-free all season long, and Ron Artest was wearing logo-less shorts prior to his suspension.
Uni Watch passed the query along to NBA senior apparel director Christopher Arena. "Just when I thought I had seen everything," he e-mailed back. "That's a great catch. You have Reebok [the NBA's uniform manufacturer] turning the factory upside-down trying to figure this out, it's great."
After some investigation, here's what Arena now thinks took place: The factory that had been making the Pacers' uniforms closed last year, so Reebok moved the team's account to another factory. A set of logo-less prototype uniforms was sent to the new factory, as a sizing guide, and some of those prototypes may have gotten mixed in with the finished uniforms that were shipped to the team. None of which explains why nobody involved with the Pacers noticed the mistake, but not everyone can be as detail-attentive as your average Uni Watch reader.
Anyway, here's the beauty part: When the Pacers played the Nuggets on March 3 two days after Uni Watch first contacted Arena lo and behold, Stephen Jackson suddenly had a "P" on his shorts. All because of Richard Polk. "Hey, we listen to you," says Arena, filling Uni Watch with a flush of squishy pride.
More NBA hijinks: Rodney Rogers probably didn't mind being traded from the last-place Hornets to the 76ers. But he wasn't too thrilled to arrive for his first game and find his name had been misspelled on his jersey. After he raised a stink, the team quickly procured a patch to cover up the typo.
"It's unreal, this happens twice a year," says Arena. "The other time this season was Raptors spelled 'Rpptors,' I think on Jalen Rose's jersey. Carmelo Anthony had his shorts on backwards a few weeks ago and changed on the court, and Chris Andersen's name was spelled wrong on his jersey for the slam dunk contest last year. No matter what you do, it happens twice a year. You can set your clock by it."
Of course, the NBA is hardly unique in this regard. Major League Baseball, for one, has had its share of uni-related typos and mix-and-match snafus, and you can expect to see more glitches as the number of alternate, throwback and special-occasion unis continues to multiply.