A Fashionable Statement?

By Carla Peay
Updated: October 21, 2006

Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas models team's new uniform

Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas models team's new uniform

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Once upon a time, our lives were simple when it came to team uniforms. We had home whites; we had road grays. Then, things got a little more colorful. Teams began to pair colored shirts with their white or gray pants. Next came an explosion of color, with teams sporting color-on-color unis bright enough, and sometimes garish enough to get them listed on one of those E-Entertainment specials entitled “Biggest Fashion Disasters”.

Then came the final indignity, one clearly designed to gouge even more money from the fans in jersey sales. The Alternate Third Uniform. Not to be confused with throwback uniforms; jerseys honoring the history and heritage of a team’s former name or location, and with it our sports legends from ages past. No, the alternate third uniform is purely a special occasion uniform. A daytime uniform. A sales, marketing and public relations uniform.

This year, the Washington Nationals revealed an alternate red third jersey with a different logo. While the home white and the road gray sport the Washington name across the front, the alternate red jersey, which the team wore for day games, sported an interlocking DC logo. It’s a popular look with the fans.

The Washington Redskins pair burgundy and white, sometimes going with an all white combo. A few select members of the local media actually refer to the team as the burgundy and gold, as opposed to calling them by their name, referring to the gold trim on the Skin’s uniforms. But let’s face it, the team nickname and logo will always be far more controversial than anything worn on the backs of the local gridiron gang. But that’s another column.

The Washington Wizards sport a home white uniform with teal, black and bronze trim, and a road teal uniform, trimmed with black, white and bronze. So when the Washington Wizards announced last week that they would be unveiling their alternate third jerseys, no one was surprised. A Meet the Team event was held this week for fans to greet their favorite players, and for the players to model their new duds. We local media types naturally assumed the new unis would be black. They would be strong and tough looking. Intimidating. And, lest we never forget the real reason teams have a third jersey to begin with, they would be a major seller. The most popular color jersey color sold today among young people is black.

So when we saw the brand new gold uniforms shirts trimmed with black and white paired with black shorts trimmed with gold and white we were…surprised. The players, however, seemed fine with the new look.

“It’s different. It’s unique. I think the black and gold symbolizes a lot. Its good colors. It takes you back to ancient times. Like the Knights. It’s tough to match the shoes, but you can go with an all black look. Anything black and gold will do,” said forward Caron Butler.

And we can always count on outspoken guard Gilbert Arenas to tell us exactly what he thinks.

“I actually like them. One, because I’ve got some shoes that match. I didn’t want to bring them out, but I guess I’m the only one that’s going to be matching this year. It’s better than the turquoise blue. I’ll wear this anytime over the turquoise,” said Arenas.

But if he had his way, the Wizards would scrub this whole white and teal, gold and black thing for something a little more classic and patriotic. We are, after all, the nation’s capital. Arenas likes the old Washington Bullets uniforms, and made it very clear that those are the colors he’d prefer to wear.

“Red, white and blue. That’s America’s colors. Hopefully we can get it next year, or maybe two years from now,” said Arenas.

Perhaps Wizards management should listen to their enigmatic, all-star guard. After all, just think of how many more jerseys they could sell.