It all began with a Sue Bird interview she did with Percy Allen of the Seattle Times where she revealed that for the WNBA’s 25th anniversary, special edition jerseys would be released in lieu of the W’s usual pair of threads.
Despite the unfolding of #WNBAJerseyGate – an early in-store launch and a key franchise player’s name mis-spelling (as cleverly coined by Khristina Williams), this bold uniform collection is exactly the step needed towards setting the league’s foundation for the next 25 years and beyond. It showcases love for the game and for the players, and empowers fans to join in.
We have uniforms that are uniquely ours. Every single jersey shares a story.” said Sue Bird
And that’s a big deal, because historically WNBA players have not.
New WNBA X Nike jerseys fit for WNBA queens
Critically, players had input into the brand new designs, both in terms of fit and look – which are equally important when it comes to delivering at the highest level on the court. Players need uniforms to complement their movement, and to feel good about wearing a product they’re proud of.
Players in the WNBA range from 5-foot-6 to 6-foot-9 tall, and have a variety of body types. So historically, WNBA athletes have rolled their shorts or tucked their jerseys underneath the shoulder straps of their bras to get their uniforms to fit – something perhaps still anticipated at the high school level and college level (which is its own unacceptable issue), but certainly not in one of the most talented women’s professional leagues in the world.
“WNBA players wanted a uniform that fits them, not one they have to fit into. They wanted a connection to their team and fans [while expressing] their personal style according to Nike,” reported Arielle Chambers.
“I’m a gear person’s worst nightmare because I tuck and I roll and I twist and do everything else,” reigning WNBA MVP and Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson told ESPN. “But you could tell Nike was definitely like, ‘We’re going to try to make sure A’ja doesn’t [have to] do any of that.’
Creative expression is king in new uniforms
Nike has partnered with the WNBA for its game uniforms since 2018. But there was clearly an opportunity to do more. Sharper creative expression directly from players guided the new Nike uniform system and apparel offering for the WNBA.
“When our team met with our athletes, their feedback was very clear,” said Tania Flynn, Nike VP of Women’s Apparel Design. “They wanted a uniform that fits them, not one they have to fit into. They wanted a connection to their team and fans, but also wanted to express their personal style. And they wanted us to tell their story. The new uniforms obsess all of those details for the world’s best players, technically and creatively.”
The new WNBA uniform system from Nike features three game uniform editions for each of the 12 teams in the league, bringing stories from their cities and communities to life through the muse of female archetypes in storytelling and film:
- The WNBA Nike Heroine Edition (return of the white uniform)
- The WNBA Nike Explorer Edition (creative margins of team identity)
- The WNBA Nike Rebel Edition (themes of female empowerment from cities and their communities)
While each team released three jerseys, one team notably pulled its Rebel jersey after backlash after the organization it was looking to pay homage to was found to have a racist history.
Explore the gorgeous new WNBA Heroine, Explorer, and Rebel jerseys
“The basketball uniform is an important representation of the brand of WNBA players and teams, and a point of pride for fans,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “In partnership with Nike, unveiling new and exciting adaptations of the WNBA uniforms is a dynamic way to build on the foundation of the league’s first 25 years.” Take a peek at the uniforms in this collection and learn what inspired their unique design details.
The new Atlanta Dream jerseys
According to the Dream, the Heroine white and Explorer red uniforms pay homage to Georgians who participated in the Civil Rights Movement. The Explorer red also is a testament to how the color has become a signature for Atlanta’s other professional sports teams – such as the Braves, Hawks, Falcons, and Atlanta United.
The Heroine Edition also incorporates the 16 rays of the Atlanta-based National Center for Civil and Human Rights’ Pentagram mural which brings together the various civil rights movements. The Dream also shouted out the ATL’s history in being a musical hub for women musicians in its Rebel Edition threads. Its design, watermarks, and presence of silver in the threads, per a Dream release, were done to honor Atlanta’s history of women recording artists.
The new Chicago Sky explorer jerseys
When the WNBA’s 25th anniversary jersey reveals took place, there was almost unanimous consensus that the Sky’s jerseys looked the best of those for all 12 teams. Also, Chicago was the team that made the biggest free agent splash of this previous offseason, so the Sky had to go big and bold for its jersey reveal.
With the Sky, it was the pinstripes on its Heroine and (black) Explorer editions that became a hit among the WNBA family. The 10×10 pinstripe grid represents Chicago’s city blocks and the 5-on-5 for the number of players on the court.
If one were to take one look at its Rebel Edition jersey, it looks pure Chicago. The “Chi-Town” wording on the front plus the Chicago Star along with the light blue colors which are an ode to the City of Broad Shoulders’ frigid climate in the winter months as well as how it represents the ability of women to break glass ceilings.
The Sky wore its Rebel edition jersey in a preseason contest with the Indiana Fever at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Chicago then hosted the Fever at Wintrust Arena for another preseason matchup and wore its Heroine edition threads.
The Connecticut Sun’s new WNBA jerseys
The Sun were one of three teams (along with the Sparks and Storm) whose logos underwent a facelift during the offseason. Connecticut’s primary logo puts emphasis on three primary colors – blue, orange, and white.
If one were to look at the jerseys from afar, one may think that the Sun simply decided to have its three jerseys be a reflection of its updated team colors. There are subtle details that make Connecticut’s look stand out.
The Heroine Edition is outlined by the traditional symbol of the Mohegan Tribe – an appropriate touch given the Sun’s status as the first professional sports team owned by Native Americans. The symbol includes a center dot which, per the Sun, denotes a spiritual life force. Those 13 dots, according to the Sun are a recognition of the 13 months of the lunar year.
Connecticut’s Explorer Edition also pays homage to the number 13. The Sun mentioned how on its Explorer the Mohegan Tribe is 13 generations removed from its first chief in Uncas. Uncasville, where Mohegan Sun is located, is, of course, named after Chief Uncas.
On its blue Rebel Edition, the word “Keesusk” is featured as it translates to “Sun” in the Mohegan Tribe’s native language. Connecticut will open the season at Gateway Center Arena at the Atlanta Dream on Friday May 14 – and its social media avatar is hinting that the Sun will take to the court in its orange Explorer Edition uniforms.
The Dallas Wings new jerseys
The Wings went relatively pedestrian for its Heroine and Explorer edition jerseys – a white Heroine edition and a navy blue Explorer edition with both jerseys outlined in the Wings’ other signature color of volt green. According to Nike, the uniforms feature flight-ready side details and a sky-high palette of light blues, neon greens and white that inspires daring speed.
Dallas attempted to go in a different direction with its Rebel Edition jersey. It was inspired by aircraft that was flown by women during the second World War and manufactured in Texas. The women who flew the planes were the Women Airforce Service Pilots or WASPs and they were the first women in history to fly military aircraft. Avenger Field in north-central Texas was the name of the facility where the WASP members were training at.
Except there was one big problem – one that was first brought up by Dallas-based Jasmine Baker, who describes herself as a women’s sports culturalist (and a noteworthy member of the WNBA family). She first brought to everyone’s attention the WASPs’ history of excluding Black women from the program. The Wings later pulled the pulled the jersey and, according to a joint statement by the organization, WNBA and Nike, mentioned it would “work together on a new Nike Rebel Edition uniform design for the future.”
The Indiana Fever’s new WNBA jerseys
Conventional wisdom may have dictated that given Indiana’s storied basketball history that the Fever may have opted to have its Rebel Edition jersey be an homage to the movie “Hoosiers.” Instead, the Fever went in another direction for its apparel for the 2021 season.
According to the team, it is the first time the Fever have worn white since 2014 (its Heroine edition). It mentions how its ribbon design includes a nod to the Lady Victory statue in downtown Indianapolis along with the 19 stars on the Indiana state flag and Indiana’s place as the 19th member of the Union. Eighteen of those 19 stars are in yellow with one of them being in red – a nod to the team’s championship the Fever won in 2012 with Tamika Catchings (currently the Fever’s general manager) leading the way. The odes to Lady Victory and the 19 stars are also present on the Explorer jersey.
If one immediately got “Stranger Things” vibes from looking at the Fever’s Rebel Edition wear, that was the plan. The Fever’s rebel edition is a nod to the hit Netflix show, which takes place in a fictional town in Indiana. The Fever’s social media has notably featured its No. 4 overall draft pick, Kysre Gondrezick donning the Rebel look in many of its social media posts since she was drafted.
The Fever wore its Heroine Edition at its preseason contest in Indiana vs. the Chicago Sky and the Explorer edition when they traveled to the Windy City to face the Sky in its second of two preseason contests.
New WNBA jerseys: Las Vegas Aces
It can be argued that the Aces’ white Heroine wear is probably the best, aesthetically, of any of the 12 white Heroine jerseys. The color mixes in perfectly with Las Vegas’ signature colors of black, red and gold, giving it a pure Las Vegas look.
The Aces also released an all-red Explorer edition, but its black and gold Rebel Edition incorporated plenty of details. Its jersey is inspired by the Ace card with the bottom half of the look incorporating diamonds into the look. The black and gold colors are a denotation of Las Vegas’ status as a vibrant tourist attraction as well as its status as a desert city in the southernmost part of Nevada. Its Rebel edition features a gold ace of diamonds as well as a gold spade, diamond, heart and club. Diamond details emblazoned across the uniform’s front and back coupled with opulent gold trim and oversized type feel classic and fresh.
The Aces wore its Heroine jerseys in the first of its two scrimmages with the Los Angeles Sparks. The first was in Las Vegas. The second was at the LA Convention Center when the Aces wore the red Explorer edition jerseys.
The new Los Angeles Sparks jersey
With the Sparks being one of three Original Eight teams still in operation, it was only fitting that for the league’s 25th anniversary (which doubles as the Sparks’ 25th), that its Heroine and Explorer edition jerseys gave off what could be considered a classic look.
An often overlooked detail of the Heroine and Explorer jerseys is that both feature a teal Nike swoosh. Teal was in the Sparks’ previous logo, but not emphasized as much as purple and gold. The black and gold Rebel edition jersey has Los Angeles literally and figuratively written all over it as it bears a resemblance to the bright lights of LA. Front and center on the Explorer uniform is the team’s updated palm-inspired logo, an iconic symbol of Los Angeles’ desert weather and wide tree-lined boulevards.
That Rebel edition was what the Sparks wore in its first preseason game this season vs. the Las Vegas Aces in Sin City. In the second of their two preseason matchups, which was in Los Angeles, the Sparks donned its Heroine editions.
The new Minnesota Lynx jersey
Similar to the jerseys presented by the Sun and Fever, one may have to look really good at the details of the Lynx’s Heroine and Explorer jerseys to see if there are hidden details that one may miss if seen from afar.
The white Heroine edition and the blue Explorer edition certainly, as expected, give off a look similar to the team it is under the same ownership umbrella as – the Minnesota Timberwolves. The spotted detail is present on both the Heroine and the Rebel editions. Say the Lynx, the jerseys are a representation of courage, ambition and a trail-blazing attitude with an emphasis on rising “above adversity,” “fighting for what is right,” and “the relentless desire to hunt what’s next.” Minnesota won its 2015 WNBA championship in a white jersey.
Then there is the Lynx’s Rebel Edition jersey. An icy blue background stands strong for the Midwest’s frigid winters, while the side tapes have a precise use of action green that nod to the hairs that tip the feline’s ears.
One may have guessed right if thinking at first glance that there is a musical touch to it. Nike says that the “Minn” lettering against a musical backdrop is an homage to one of the longest-running independent music venues in the United States. The Lynx say the inspiration for its Rebel comes from First Avenue. The team announced that proceeds from the Rebel edition will benefit a nonprofit that is supporting entertainers and musicians affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Lynx wore the Explorer edition at a preseason scrimmage at the Atlanta Dream. Minnesota hosted the Mystics at a preseason game at Target Center in Minnesota, sported the Heroine edition look and won 79-68.
The WNBA jerseys: New York Liberty
Black and seafoam green over the years have become synonymous with the Liberty. For New York, in addition to a 25th anniversary logo (ala the Mercury and Sparks), the team is also adding a third color (copper) for year No. 25 of Liberty hoops.
That copper color can be seen on all three of New York’s jerseys – Heroine, Explorer, and Rebel. All three jerseys are also outlined in copper. The team’s namesake is, of course, the Statue of Liberty, but Lady Liberty was originally copper. Seafoam, per the Liberty, represents resiliency and the reaction of the Statue of Liberty to the changing elements over time.
New York’s Explorer edition features “speckled details” which are symbolic of the city’s status as a “concrete jungle.” While jagged, graphic details embody the toughness and eccentricity that defines true New Yorkers. Seafoam is the dominant color of the Rebel Edition with the word “Equality” inscribed across the top. The Rebel’s shorts also feature the iconic torch emblazoned in black and copper colors with a crown in similar colors for the Heroine.
Instead of either its Heroine, Explorer or Rebel jerseys, the Liberty opted to wear what looked like its practice jerseys when they faced off against the Connecticut Sun at a scrimmage at Uncasville’s Mohegan Sun Arena.
The new Phoenix Mercury jersey
Details are aplenty in the threads released by the Phoenix Mercury for its 25th rendition. A Mercury team release mentioned, in reference to the Heroine jerseys that they are an homage to white being a signature color of the women’s suffrage movement.
Phoenix, notably, was the only team that went with a gradient look for its Explorer jersey. The purple and orange colors are pure Arizona and give a look very similar to the City Edition jersey of its co-owned NBA brethren, the Phoenix Suns. And it’s the only WNBA gradient uniform, ever!
The Mercury’s Rebel edition is nearly all-black with the “PHX” wording. The “X” is in orange – which shouts out the Phoenix fanbase, the X-Factor, a name first given to Mercury fans by original coach Cheryl Miller. That fanbase is one of the most passionate throughout the WNBA, proven by how Phoenix was one of only two teams to average at least 10,000 fans per game (the Sparks being the other) in 2019.
The Mercury wore its Heroine edition jerseys in its preseason scrimmage at home vs. the Seattle Storm.
The new Seattle Storm jersey
Green and gold are colors that are synonymous with Seattle basketball which is why a few years ago, the Storm updated its logo where green and gold became the dominant colors. Beginning this season, the Storm not only updated its logo, but added a new variant of green, found most notably in the lightning bolt below the top of the Space Needle depiction in said logo.
There is an arch to the “Storm” wording on the Heroine logo and the “Seattle” wording on the Explorer rendition. Notably, the Seattle Sonics also had an arch on its home and away jerseys. The team says that the Explorer edition features an ode to the Space Needle down its side. A symbol of the city’s optimistic outlook and go-getter nature, the Storm’s Explorer uniform features a sweeping yellow frame coupled with a spruce-green field.
Sue Bird said, “We have an ode to the [Seattle Space] Needle down the side of ours, which of course no other team has. This might sound silly, but that hasn’t been the case in the WNBA. The uniforms have kind of all just been the same.”
The lighter shade of green shows up most prominently on the Rebel edition. Sue Bird mentioned in a team release that the bold lettering and black features give the Rebel edition a Seattle look.
The new Washington Mystics WNBA jersey
Considering that the Mystics play basketball in our Nation’s Capital, “District of Change” has become a theme for the team. The Mystics’ new jerseys are a direct reflection of that philosophy.
Washington’s new look for its Heroine and Explorer uniforms are another where subtlety in the details reveals its deeper meaning. Notice the star at the top of the white Heroine and red Explorer jerseys? That star, according to the team, symbolizes D.C.’s push to become the nation’s 51st state – an effort that has garnered a renewed emphasis in recent months. The team page also mentions that both Heroine and Explorer feature a Potomac bluestone marbling pattern which shouts out Washington, D.C. architecture. When the complete uniform is worn, it forms the top of a monument. Akin to the city’s marble monuments, malls and statues, the uniforms stand as a powerful pillar and symbol of D.C’s history of leadership and action.
The Mystics’ Rebel edition is definitely one of the more elaborate Rebels any of the teams have released. It was done with inspiration from the Women’s March, which one can definitely see when they take a look at the colors of said jersey. It features the word “Rise” in navy blue lettering, outlined in beige against a background of “Women’s March Red.” It also includes the inscription of the 19th amendment which recognized women’s suffrage. On the back of the jersey is a mention of marches that have taken place in Washington on their way to the National Mall.
This jersey has received some criticism in some way that the Wings’ original Rebel edition did given Black and Brown women were excluded from the newfound voting privileges presented by the 19th Amendment.
New features on the WNBA jerseys to look out for:
- Each WNBA game jersey is numbered 1/144, honoring the 144 elite athletes who earned their place in the world’s premier women’s basketball league.
- Athlete numbers are returning to the front of the game jersey. And the ads take more of a backseat!
- The game shorts have more room in the thighs and the glutes, and the game jerseys add more room across the chest plus overall proportion adjustments.
- The game jerseys also feature an assortment of three necklines: a round-neck, a V-neck and the wishbone neckline exclusive to the WNBA.
- The new WNBA Nike uniforms come with an entirely re-engineered chassis and feature new proportions in the game jersey and short. They also debut Nike DRI-FIT ADV technology — an engineered knit material that helps enable more freedom of movement and comfort — in a professional league uniform.
“You can’t minimize the impact that the third uniform is going to have on the overall aesthetic of the league,” Chicago Sky guard Diamond DeShields said. “When you make it to the professional level, you want to feel like that experience is elite. Part of that is definitely in the apparel and the uniform. I think it’s really going to be eye-opening and bring more attention to us this season, which is ultimately what we want.”
WNBA player jersey reactions
The jersey drop is bringing Christmas morning vibes, even for some of the league’s players. Check out the players scooping the final uniforms for the first time! And see a few of our favorite reactions:
Discover the Game Theater Collection and Team 13 Collection
Plus, there’s a way for players to keep the fly off the court (and for us to join them!). The new Game Theater collection of complementary pieces. Offering more than 50 pieces of apparel for players, coaches and staff, the Game Theater collection includes travel jackets, sweats, hoodies and more. Nike is also releasing well as a Team 13 collection which is the first WNBA fan apparel collection offered by Nike.
Where to buy the new WNBA jerseys
Much of the new WNBA jerseys and apparel will be available to fans online and through Dick’s Sporting Goods, Fanatics, and WNBA team shops. The jerseys for select players are now available on Nike’s website and the Nike app.
One thing to note is that the jerseys appear to be in women’s sizes only at the moment, rather than unisex. As a result, Nike customer support has encouraged men to shop one size up.
Where to buy men’s WNBA jerseys?
Most websites that sell WNBA jersey do not sell jerseys that are specifically tailored for men. For example if you search for “WNBA” on Nike and then select the Men checkbox, no jerseys appear. Instead what sites such as Fanatics and the WNBA Store do is sell jerseys that are branded as “Unisex.” That, of course, means that the jerseys can be worn by either women or men.
It is better than nothing, of course, for men looking to cop W jerseys, but there is a post on the WNBA page at Reddit that specifically poses the question regarding whether WNBA jerseys are available for men.
How and where to get WNBA jerseys in the UK or Canada?
If Twitter posts are any indication, it does not appear that WNBA jerseys are made available, for the most part, directly in the United Kingdom. One Twitter poster mentioned how he recently bought a WNBA hoodie from a Nike store in the UK.
While a plethora of WNBA jerseys and apparel are ready for purchase on Fanatics’ United States page, its international page is a different story. Fanatics is based out of Jacksonville, Florida and its International page only has jerseys for two players available – A’ja Wilson and Sabrina Ionescu.
This looks to be a miss on the WNBA’s part given the noteworthy Canadian presence there is in the W (Kia Nurse, Natalie Achonwa, Kayla Alexander, Bridget Carleton) not to mention how Toronto is constantly brought up as a possible city for WNBA expansion and that Canadian sports networks have broadcasted WNBA games in recent years.
In fact, in May of 2021, the Women’s National Basketball Association announced Tangerine Bank as the league’s first Foundational Partner in Canada. This multiyear partnership will see Tangerine present WNBA Tip-Off 2021, as the league’s landmark 25th season begins on Friday, May 14th, 2021.
“Tangerine Bank’s commitment to the WNBA is a strategic step in growing the league’s presence outside the U.S. and globalizing the game,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “Tangerine’s vision to invest in the WNBA is another indication of the value that companies see in the growing popularity of women’s sports. We are grateful for their dedication to uplifting youth and women basketball players in Canada and beyond.”
Hopefully in the coming years, WNBA jersey availability is something Cathy Engelbert and the WNBA fix, if they hope to make further waves north of the border.
Of course, the 25th jersey launch wasn’t the first time that WNBA jerseys have made an impact on the world.
Breonna Taylor jerseys in the bubble
As everyone knows, 2020 was not only the year of a pandemic, it was also a year of widespread protests in response to police brutality – particularly the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police.
Breonna Taylor, a first responder, was shot and killed in her own apartment by Louisville police. As she was a Black woman, this garnered the attention of many a WNBA player in a league that is overwhelmingly Black women. Angel McCoughtry, who played her collegiate basketball at Louisville, raised the idea of honoring Taylor’s memory. The WNBA then decided it would send a loud and emphatic message that spread far past the enclosed confines of its Florida bubble. It not only inscribed Black Lives Matter on both courts in Bradenton, but Breonna Taylor’s name would be on the back of all WNBA jerseys.
Now that you know a little WNBA jersey history, up next we share where you can find some other historic WNBA jerseys.
Where to find throwback WNBA jerseys?
Some of the best places to locate throwback WNBA jerseys are sites such as Ebay, XL3 Vintage Clothing and even Etsy. Interestingly enough on Ebay, there already is an Arike Ogunbowale #24 Dallas Wings jersey featuring their discontinued Rebel Edition jersey for an affordable (!?!) $1,000.
Ebay has several other options that are less pricey. These include:
- A women’s XL Ruth Riley Detroit Shock jersey for $24.99
- A Sacramento Monarchs jersey for $175
- A Sheryl Swoopes Houston Comets jersey for $99.99
- A Teresa Weatherspoon New York Liberty jersey for $37.49
- A Lisa Leslie Los Angeles Sparks jersey for $69.95
- A Cynthia Cooper Comets jersey for $74.99
- A Pollyanna Johns Cleveland Rockers autographed jersey for $25.00
- A Chamique Holdsclaw Sparks jersey for $45.00
- An Edna Campbell Seattle Storm jersey for $45
- A Tangela Smith Phoenix Mercury jersey for $299.99
- And a Rebecca Lobo Comets jersey for $299.99 (among others).
- A Kedra Holland-Corn Shock jersey for $89.99
- A Kym Hampton Liberty jersey for $119.99
- A Michelle Timms Mercury jersey for $99.99
- A Bridget Pettis Mercury jersey for $99.99
- An Andrea Stinson Charlotte Sting jersey for $74.99
- And a Nikki McCray Washington Mystics jersey also for $74.99.
An Etsy page features:
- A Utah Starzz jersey for $42.99
- A Kori Hlede Detroit Shock jersey for $42.39
- And a Cynthia Cooper Comets jersey for $122.
Now you know all about WNBA jerseys
Up next, learn more about Nike and the WNBA’s unique partnership designed for growth.
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