Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE

Why the Utah Jazz are bringing back their red rock-inspired City Edition uniforms this season

by Aaron Falk

The breathtaking landscapes of southern Utah formed, forged by powerful forces, over the course of hundreds of millions of years. So there was no way the Utah Jazz’s red rock-inspired City Edition jerseys were going away after just one.

This week, NBA teams are revealing their new City Edition looks for the 2018-19 season. The Jazz won’t be messing with perfection—the only team in the league to bring back the same City Edition uniform from last season.

“This uniform brings so much excitement and joy to the NBA, and we’re really thrilled to see it coming back,” said Keri Lenker, senior manager of identity, outfitting and equipment at the NBA.

The NBA created the City Edition campaign last year to honor the fans of every NBA city. In some cases, they honor an entire state. That’s what the Jazz and Nike set out to do last season in designing the look that has quickly transitioned from innovative to iconic.

“I see a lot more of the City uniforms than any other uniforms around town,” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said. “It catches a different feel for the Jazz that’s being exposed to the world. I think it’s pretty dope to have that. It gives people a different sense of what Utah’s about.”

Lenker still remembers the first time NBA officials got a glimpse of the design.

“When Nike first presented Utah’s City Edition, I recall smiling, grinning ear to ear,” she said. “I thought, ‘This is City Edition. This is what it’s all about.’ Seeing this for the first time was one of those moments that struck a chord with all of us.”

Jazz officials wondered how fans would react to a look that veers so drastically away from the team’s traditional feel. Record sales of the jerseys quickly gave them their answer. And after quickly selling out of City Edition jerseys last season, the Jazz and Nike substantially increased production this year to meet the expected demand.

“We wanted to do something outside the box with this jersey, and something that would truly pay homage to our beautiful state,” said Steve Starks, president of the Utah Jazz and Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment. “We’ve been thrilled by the way it was embraced.”

Nike designers drew inspiration from Utah’s five national parks in designing the City Edition look, a visually stunning spectrum of yellow, orange and red.

“It’s cool what they represent—they’re just different,” Jazz guard Danté Exum said. “You go night in and night out wearing the same uniforms. These bring color.”

“Not every team has had that,” Mitchell added. “A lot of teams have had something within their color scheme. Ours is completely different. It makes it special.”

Now, teams around the NBA are looking at Utah for how to create looks that resonate with their fans.

“The Jazz really broke into a frontier of uniform design that frankly has the entire sports community excited about the City Edition campaign and where it can go,” Lenker said. “The Jazz took it to another level with the court design, too.

“There were 30 amazing City Editions last year. But every NBA team loves watching what other teams are doing. They’re all inspired by each other, looking at each other’s uniforms for bits and pieces their teams can incorporate into their own looks.”