|A view of the Pistons' stripes|
Both ditched side panels on their unis and now have some of the best uniforms in the league. There was more to the alterations than cleaning up the sides – scoop collars and colour changes also helped – but much of the success of those uniforms can be attributed to that clutter removal.
Not all side panels or stripes are detrimental, however. Some of them could even be considered beneficial to a uniform. There’s three rough categories of side panels when it comes to current NBA uniforms.
The first category is terrible side stripes and panels, the sort that are so unattractive that they bring down the uniform. Teams currently sporting this sort of element include the Lakers, Clippers, Kings, Suns, Magic, Rockets, Bobcats and Pelicans. There’s no single reason why the panels in this group are unsuccessful. Problems with colour, clutter and garish shapes exist here.
The second category is acceptable side designs. This is where teams who feature side panels that are neither attractive nor ugly fall. Among those on the list: the Spurs, Raptors, Warriors, Heat, Grizzlies and Bucks. Note that most of the teams here would probably look better with clean sides, but they aren’t in as desperate need of them as the group above.
The final category is the most exclusive: good side stripes and panels. The width of the stripe down the sides of the Nets’ uniforms makes them work well, even with the herringbone pattern. The stripes on the Pistons’ home whites look sharp, particularly with the thin white stripe separating the red and blue. The striping on the Nuggets’ alternate is superb. The simple stripe down the right side of the Heat’s black throwbacks looks great; leaving the left side clean was a good move.
It’s this last group that suggests side designs can work, albeit infrequently, and thus can’t be denounced with a blanket statement.