Nike has no excuse for this NBA shirt design fail

Nike Jordan Jumpman logo in a red circle with a line through it
(Image credit: Nike / Future)

Nike's classic Michael Jordan Jumpman logo is one of the best sports logos of all time. It became so iconic that it traversed its era and came to represent more than a single athlete. But that doesn't mean that the iconic design is popular everywhere.

Nike has put the famed logo on merchandise for every NBA team this season, and the move has brought back memories of a decades-old grudge for the fans of one of them. It's a rare design fail from a brand that is normally so on the ball.

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Fans of Utah Jazz were more than a little put out when the Nike Jordan Jumpman logo appeared on shirts in the basketball team's official store in Salt Lake City. For the Utah Jazz, Jordan remains known as the team's nemesis during the era of John Stockton and Karl Malone. Leading the Chicago Bulls, he thwarted the Jazz in successive NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, the only two times in the team's history that it came so close to a title.

Fans' dismay at the product has been so great that, according to the Salt Lake Tribune the Jazz store has removed the offending item from sale. But it seems incredible that nobody predicted such a response.

"Asking Jazz fans to buy a shirt on which Michael Jordan is literally dunking on the team," one person suggested on Twitter. "This is an absolute travesty. Some of us cried that day," someone else wrote. "This might be the worst design I’ve ever seen from a team. Do the designers know the history of the franchise at all?" another person else asked.

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The debacle shows that you can't just slap a logo on identikit shirts for an entire sports league no matter how iconic the design (even if you're Nike). We know that sports fans take the logo design of their own team seriously (just see how fans of an Australian rugby team are roasting the club's new design), but they're also understandably sensitive to any references to other teams and to the opening of historic wounds.

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design, production and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.