In advance of the team’s final contest in which the Kings will sport their 90s alternate uniform, players and coaches offer thoughts on Sacramento’s retro jersey and throwbacks of years past.
From MLB legends, such as Nolan Ryan, to NFL superstars, including Barry Sanders and Jerry Rice, Kings Assistant Coach Bobby Jackson’s closet is lined with nearly a hundred throwback jerseys of his all-time favorite athletes.
“I have a bunch – baseball to football to basketball … I’m a 49ers fan, so those are probably my favorite ones,” he says of his vast collection.
“I think you look at what those guys achieved on the floor or on the field – Hall of Famers, Super Bowl champions, Major League (Baseball) champions – why not wear those jerseys? And, they look good – everybody likes the old school jerseys.”
Although Jackson’s Kings debut came shortly after the team sported its two-toned, checkered-sided alternates during the mid-1990s, the former guard is hoping to score a customized No. 24 uniform.
“I like them a lot,” he says. “I told (Kings Assistant Equipment Manager) Miguel (Lopez), ‘You have to get me a jersey and shorts.’”
While many current Kings players don’t recall the now-retro uniforms the first time around, they appreciate the unique and iconic look.
“I think they’re sweet,” says newcomer Cole Aldrich, who donned collegiate jerseys of Patrick Ewing and Ed Pinckney in his youth. “I think not only the players like them, but I think the fans like them. It kind of switches it up and gives it a little excitement – something to look forward to.”
“It’s a great jersey,” affirms Jason Thompson. “It also means a lot to the fans when they come in and see how jerseys used to be back in the day. It brings back a lot of memories.”
The Rider product – a one-time avid throwbacks collector whose assortment of Michael Jordan, Chris Webber and Charles Barkley jerseys is archived at his parents’ home – explains the distinctive styles remind him of different eras.
“A lot of teams have changed (over the years) – the colors are sometimes 10 times different than they are now,” he says. “Then, there’s the fit – you had the small shorts back in the day, then you went to a baggy stage and now you want the slim fit again. So, it’s interesting the way the generations keep changing.”
In addition to an affinity for old-school color schemes, Tyreke Evans sported jerseys of Hall of Famers Bob McAdoo and Magic Johnson as a sign of respect for their respective accomplishments.
As a high schooler, Marcus Thornton says he rarely left his house without a fresh throwback over a white T-shirt, to go along with a matching hat and shoes.
“Back when they first came out, (I had) almost all of them that looked good,” he says. “I remember going to one of my Sadie Hawkins Dances in a Spud Webb (jersey).”
No. 23 reveals he most frequently sported jerseys of a pair of NBA legends – former Washington Bullets center Wes Unseld and Denver Nuggets standout and current Kings Assistant Coach Alex English.
“It’s an honor. I think it’s great,” says English. “It helps to keeps the old guys in the spotlight a little bit when (current players or fans) wear the old jerseys.”
The eight-time All-Star has long held the stylistic Nuggets uniform in high regard.
“It’s the jersey that was the hottest jersey in the League for a while,” he says. “It was so unique back then. Not many teams wore the colors of the rainbow. Then, you have the mountains in the background and you have the city skyline.”
While Isaiah Thomas shares he couldn’t afford any Mitchell & Ness Hardwood Classics growing up, he begged his parents for one fitting NBA legend’s jersey.
“All the throwbacks are nice, but the first one I wanted was an Isiah Thomas Detroit Pistons one,” recalls No. 22 with a smile. “It would’ve been nice. People knew my name, and for me to wear his jersey, it would’ve been tight.”
A budding NBA star whose own jersey is now regularly sported by purple and black diehards across the nation, Thomas says it’s a blessing to be appreciated by his supporters.
“To walk into this arena everyday and see people who have my jersey on, the only thing I can do is smile and thank God, because you would never imagine it growing up,” he says. “(To go from) wearing everybody else’s jersey to seeing a kid who was in your position wearing your jersey, is something that’s hard to explain.”
Third-year forward Patrick Patterson adds coming across fans sporting his collegiate or professional jerseys never ceases to put a smile on his face.
“It’s just a humbling feeling – whether it’s my Kentucky jersey or whether it’s my NBA jersey,” he says. “It means a lot and it means you’re doing something positive – it just lets me know people admire me, people look up to me and people respect me as a player.”
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