Sixers History | Uniform Retrospective - A Swoosh Goes on Forever

A SWOOSH GOES ON FOREVER – THE 76ers’ EARLY 90S UNIFORMS

Written for Sixers.com by @SixersHistory's Curtis Harris

Eight times this season, the 76ers will don the newly-unveiled City Edition jerseys inspired by the classic film Rocky. The uniforms are highly distinctive and stand out in Sixers history as the first to have gray as its dominant color.

Of course, every jersey in franchise history has some distinction about it. Otherwise, why change up the threads?

For a franchise that’s been around for over seven decades, you can believe the 76ers have indeed had a lot of different threads. With that wealth of history in mind, every night this season that the Sixers rock the City Edition Rocky uniforms, we’ll take a quick look back at a previous 76ers jersey.

To kick things off, we’re focusing on a jersey so splendid, it helped spark a league-wide fad for eccentric, colorful, and audacious designs.

Get ready. It’s time for a stroll down memory lane with the multicolored “swooshing stars” jersey of the early 1990s.

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During the 1980s, the Sixers had worn simple and stately jerseys with SIXERS inscribed across the chest. At home, the jerseys were solid white. On the road, they were solid red.

Well, for the 1991-92 season, the 76ers made a startling departure in style.

SIXERS was still emblazoned on the chest, but now “Philadelphia” was added in small script above “SIXERS”.

But what the caught the eye of any onlooker was the trail of multicolored stars against a royal blue field. Curving up from the trunks, this trail of stars swooshed onto the player’s torso and continued upward meeting the SIXERS lettering on the chest.

Nothing quite like these jerseys had been seen on an NBA court.

For the 1990-91 season, the New Jersey Nets had experimented with a shimmering jersey that presaged the 76ers revamp. New Jersey’s script was very sedate, but the fabric of the jersey looked like an oil slick mixed with human sweat. The Nets abandoned the shimmer after that lone season.

The 76ers stuck by the swooshing stars for three full seasons – 1991-92, 1992-93, and 1993-94.

While the team didn’t win much on the court those years, a great parlor game is to run through the list of players who came through Philadelphia during those distinctive years for a cup of coffee.

You get a taste of All-Star hold overs (Charles Barkley and Hersey Hawkins) before they departed town, and some young faces getting a chance on the NBA scene (Shawn Bradley, Michael Curry, Dana Barros, and Isaac Austin).

And trivia fans everywhere enjoy the basketball luminaries of the 1980s who showed up in Philadelphia during these eccentric years: Jeff Malone, Jeff Hornacek, and Orlando Woolridge as players, and the always-ruffle-suited Doug Moe as coach.

Manute Bol patrolled the lane for blocks. Even Moses Malone returned for a second go around with the 76ers in this period.

And can’t forget about our man, Clarence Weatherspoon.

Short in stature, but powerful in his play, the forward rumbled and bored his way to the All-Rookie 2nd Team in 1993. The next season Spoon averaged a career-high in points (18.4) and rebounds (10.1) per game.

Spoon even gave the Sixers some much needed All-Star Weekend rep in 1993, finishing second in that year’s dunk contest.

Alas, for the 1994-95 season, the Sixers abandoned the colorful constellation of stars for a new uniform that revamped the classic 1980s style.

Spoon, nonetheless, continued his strong inside play with those new uniforms. Soon adding Jerry Stackhouse and Allen Iverson to the roster, the Sixers began the sure steps of finally returning to the playoffs after some very lean years.

Regardless of how the Sixers fared on the court, the rest of the NBA apparently had taken notice of the the club’s three-year jersey experiment.

As the 1990s progressed, more and more franchises unveiled more and more outlandish jerseys ignited by the Sixers’ spark.

A grinning Rocket here. A giant Hawk clutching a basketball there. A space age Warrior holding a lightning bolt around the corner.

All these tripped out designs traveled down a road paved by the 76ers’ daring early-1990s design.

NBA fans who grew up with the older style jerseys couldn’t believe the styles being trotted out – Really?  A dribbling Raptor? – but for young fans growing up in the 1990s, they became the stuff of nostalgia.

That’s the legacy of Philadelphia’s swooshing multicolored stars.

Follow @Sixers history on Twitter and Instagram. Look for the next installment of our Uniform Retrospective series ahead of the Sixers' Friday, November 16th match-up with the Utah Jazz. 

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