The Pistons’ New City Uniform: Gorgeous or Pointless?
It’s a good-looking design. But is it a good Pistons design?
When the NBA recently unveiled this season’s set of City Edition uniforms, I was really struck by one design in particular: the one for the Detroit Pistons. On the one hand, it’s clearly a very good-looking basketball uni. On the other hand, its color scheme and graphics have no discernible connection to the Pistons. So it’s a good uniform, but is it a good Pistons uniform?
For me, that question captures a lot of the inherent contradictions and tensions built into the City Edition program, which often produces interesting designs with little apparent tie-in — and sometimes no apparent tie-in — to a team’s existing visual program. The idea is usually that the uniforms reflect some aspect of the team’s city or local community. In the Pistons’ case, the new City design is a shout-out to St. Cecilia’s gym, a longtime local proving ground for Detroit basketball talent.
I wanted to know more about how local Pistons fans felt about this uniform, so I put out a call on the Uni Watch blog for readers who (a) root for the Pistons, (b) live in or around Detroit, and (c) would be willing to talk with me on Zoom. Three readers responded:
Karl Sikkenga: Pistons fan who lives in Ypsilanti, Mich., and works in Detroit.
Kevin Kielczewski: Pistons fan who grew up in Ann Arbor and now lives in Farmington Hills, Mich.
Chris Perry: Pistons fan who lives in Plymouth, Mich., and works in Detroit.
I thought it would also be good for the Zoom call to include a uni-savvy NBA fan who’s not a Pistons fan, so I invited Mike Chamernik, a Bucks fan who lives in Chicago and also happens to be a former Uni Watch Ticker assistant.
So the five of us — Karl, Kevin, Chris, Mike, and I — recently got together on Zoom to discuss the Pistons’ new City uniform. Here’s a transcript of our discussion, edited for length and clarity.
Paul Lukas: To get started, let’s forget for a minute that this is a Pistons uniform. Let’s just say it’s a basketball uniform. Can we all agree that this is a pretty good-looking basketball uniform? Does anyone disagree with that? [Nobody objects.] Okay, so we all agree that this is a good-looking uniform. The question then becomes whether it’s a good Pistons uniform.
I’d like to start exploring that question by asking about St. Cecilia’s gym, which the uniform is based on. Now, I don’t live in Detroit, I’ve never lived in Detroit. And frankly, I had never heard of St. Cecilia’s gym until now. For those of you who do live in or around Detroit, did you know about St. Cecilia’s? Is it part of the local culture and, especially, part of the local sports culture? Karl, let’s start with you.
Karl Sikkenga: It sounds to me like we’re all Detroit-adjacent, but none of us are actual Detroiters. I think that distinction is important. Like you, Paul, I had never heard of St. Cecilia’s. In fact, it turns out that it’s a few blocks from where I work in Detroit. My guess is if you asked Detroiters if they’d heard of St. Cecilia’s, especially Black Detroiters, you’d be much more likely to get a yes. But it was news to me. I kind of thought it was great, because I learned something about Detroit that I’m really glad to know.
Paul Lukas: Kevin, what about you?