Founded as the New Jersey Americans, the franchise adopted the Nets name before its second season in 1968. Highlighted by their famous stars and stripes jerseys from 1972 to 1981 and 1984 to 1990, red, white and blue was the team’s color scheme for four decades before the Nets changed to the crisp and classic black & white jerseys they wear today with the move to Brooklyn in 2012.
For its inaugural season, the franchise was known as the New Jersey Americans. Players Bill Austin, Tony Jackson and Art Heyman showed off the team’s jerseys — and the ABA’s red, white and blue basketball — with head coach Max Zaslofsky.
The second season brought a new name, new arena — and a new look. Rechristened the New York Nets with the move to Long Island, the team took a different look to its home and road jerseys. The home whites featured a script “Nets” not unlike that sported by baseball’s New York Mets, but with a tail added streaming off the “s” while on the road the red jersey bore a traditional arched “NEW YORK.”
It’s the jersey that Dr. J made legendary. The Nets introduced their iconic Stars & Stripes uniforms during the 1971-72 season to coincide with the move to the new Nassau Coliseum. Beginning with the team’s run to the ABA championship series that season, they became symbolic with the team’s dominance in the ABA’s final years, as Julius Erving won three MVP awards and the Nets won championships in 1974 and 1976. There was a minor alteration from these ABA classics for the franchise’s early NBA days. After the move from Nassau Coliseum to New Jersey for the 1977-78 season, the blue road jersey lettering was changed from “NEW YORK” to “NETS.”
With the move to another new arena for the 1981-82 season, the Nets reached back into the past for a uniform refresh. They brought back the script “Nets” on the chest from the early Long Island days, with blue lettering and a red outline that reversed the previous look. For the road uniform, they stuck with blue and a script “New Jersey” to be consistent with the home whites in a way the previous iteration of the design had not.
Back to the classics. Beginning in 1983, the Nets returned to their iconic Stars & Stripes, with one significant change from the 1978-81 version — the addition of a vertical “NEW JERSEY” running down the red stripe. They capped off the season with their first NBA playoff series victory, over defending champion Philadelphia.
The Nets opened a new decade by leaving their classic design behind for good. With new “NETS” lettering across the chest, the home whites were paired with a gradient shaded light blue road uni that came to be known as the “tie-dye” design. The “tie-dye” design didn’t last. After just one season, the Nets switched to a solid blue for the road uniform while staying the course with their newly designed whites.
The uniform that would come to be defined by Jason Kidd and the team’s 2002 and 2003 NBA Finalists made its debut in 1997. This would be the franchise’s longest continuing look, with the home white “NETS” lettered jersey remaining through 2012. Over the 15 seasons, the Nets cycled through a series of road and alternate uniforms. They began with a dark blue “NEW JERSEY” jersey that remained the primary road uniform through 2009. In 1998 the team introduced a gray alternate road uni with the same “NEW JERSEY” lettering. After two seasons, they changed the lettering from blue with white and red outlines to white with red and blue outlines. In 2006, a bold red alternate uniform with “NETS” across the chest was added, and in 2009 this became the team’s regular road uniform for the final seasons in New Jersey.
With the move to Brooklyn, the Nets marked the occasion with a major redesign, the first in 15 years. For the first time, the franchise moved away from its original red, white and blue colors to a crisp and clean black & white design with a traditionally styled “BROOKLYN” arched across the chest. This stretch included a series of alternate jerseys, including two sleeved jerseys — the Brooklyn Blue greys to recognize the legacy of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the revamped black & white Stars & Stripes calling back to the team’s iconic design. The charcoal Remix jersey from 2016-17 was inspired by the team’s most famous look as well.
A new uniform system added two regular alternates to the black and white designs, now designated Icon and Association. The Statement jersey built off the popular Remix design, with “BKLYN” replacing “NETS” while the introduction of the City Edition paid tribute to the Brooklyn Bridge with arched striping and the full team name. The second edition of the City Edition jersey in 2018-19 called out the legacy of the Notorious B.I.G.