10 Ways to Make the NBA's Ugly Sweater Line Even Uglier - Rolling Stone
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10 Ways to Make the NBA’s Ugly Sweater Line Even Uglier

Forget about hideous knits, the Association has plenty of ugly incidents that would make great sweaters

NBA Ugly Incidents

NBA Ugly Incidents

Let's not mince words here: The "ugly sweater" craze is played out, little more than a whimsical attempt to tack a shred of personality to the boring human who wears one.

The whole thing has gone from kitschy trend to tired cliché – you can even buy ugly sweater starter kits at Target – and now, North America's so-called "Big Four" pro leagues have gotten in on the action (oh, and Major League Soccer, too). Recently, the New York Times wrote about the proliferation of ugly NBA sweaters, which gave me an idea: Rather than complain about the seasonal uniform of the uninformed, why not embrace the idea?

What I'm proposing is a line of NBA "Ugly Incident" Sweaters, a collection of itchy polyester blends meant to commemorate the wildest and weirdest moments in league history. Here are my designs for the first run.

Pacers and Pistons

Indiana Pacers forward Stephen Jackson, left, (with headband) stands next to Fred Jones (20) as he shouts at Detroit Pistons' Rasheed Wallace (36) and Lindsey Hunter (10) during a fight on the court with just 45.9 seconds left in the game Friday, Nov. 19, 2004, in Auburn Hills, Mich. The fight began when Detroit's Ben Wallace went after Indiana's Ron Artest after he was pushed in the back. The game was called by the officials. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Duane Burleson/Getty

The ‘Malice at the Palace’ Double-Knit

The 2004 fight between the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers will forever be discussed as one of – if not the – most infamous moment in NBA history. You could take two approaches here: Either a sweater featuring Metta World Peace (then known as Ron Artest) sprawled out on the scorer's table with a soda cascading down onto him, or a lovely crocheted image of World Peace and Jermaine O'Neal rearranging the facial features of the two Pistons fans that came on the court, in the style of Mike Tyson's Punch-Out. You're telling me you wouldn't want three of these?

Kermit Washington punches Rudy Tomjanovich

The Kermit Washington/Rudy Tomjanovich Retro Rayon Blend

A sweater featuring an image of Houston's Rudy Tomjanovich getting his face knocked off by the Lakers' Kermit Washington – that's not an exaggeration; the haymaker literally detached Tomjanovich's face, breaking his nose and jaw as well as fracturing his skull – would be a prime example of horrible taste, kind of like that Kent State sweatshirt those jagbags at Urban Outfitters tried to sell. Your target market: Messageboard trolls and people who still watch Faces of Death videos.


9 Dec 1997: Latrell Sprewell of the Golden State Warriors holds a press conference after being suspended from the NBA due to an attack on head coach P.J. Charlisimo in Oakland, California. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule /Allsport

Otto Greule Jr/Getty

The Latrell Sprewell Turtleneck

After being told to show more effort from Golden State Warriors head coach P.J. Carlesimo during a practice in 1997, Spree snapped, choking and punching Carlesimo. Let's commemorate that moment with a sweater! Maybe something in the style of The Simpsons, with Sprewell as Homer and Carlesimo as Bart? Think of the "Black Bart" shirts that were so popular in the '90s! It's a goldmine! (That sound you just heard was Supreme rushing this idea to production.)

Koby and Chris

The Kobe Bryant vs. Chris Childs Combo

During a Knicks/Lakers game back in 2000, young Kobe Bryant squared off with journeyman Chris Childs after an off-ball foul. Put Childs giving ol' Bean the two-piece on a sweater and Boom! You've got a bestseller in the following markets: New York, Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, Miami, Philly, Sacramento, San Anto – OK, every market outside of Los Angeles. Nobody likes Kobe, you see (cut to Shaquille O'Neal nodding solemnly).

LeBron James


‘The Decision’ Cowl-Neck

A warm and toasty item celebrating LeBron James' destruction of the city of Cleveland back in 2010 (since rebuilt) would be hotter than the various fires currently burning on the Cuyahoga River. (Yeah he came back, but never forget.) If a screencap of his interview wouldn't work, maybe just the phrase "Taking My Talents to South Beach" on front and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert's breakup letter in Comic Sans on the back? You can give proceeds to the same Boys and Girls Club where LBJ held the ill-fated TV special, too. Then, when someone at work calls you out, you can smugly reply, "It's for the kids!"

Tim Donaghy

Victor Baldizon/Getty

The Tim Donaghy Eight-Pocket Cardigan

A tricky one. Do you crochet crooked former NBA ref Tim Donaghy making a bogus call on an irate Chris Webber in the 2002 Western Conference Finals? Or the Kings logo written like "King$$$$$" or "$$$acramento?" Ooh, what about an alternate NBA logo with Jerry West wearing referee stripes and holding a bag of money? 

Gilbert Arenas

PHILADELPHIA - JANUARY 5: Gilbert Arenas #0 of the Washington Wizards gestures in the huddle with teammates before the game against the Philadelphia 76ers on January 5, 2010 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2010 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty

The Gilbert Arenas Gun-Incident Jumper

Available in several different styles: A Wizards' team-colored silhouette of a gun with smoke curling from the barrel (resembling Arenas not passing the ball), an updated take on the old Washington Bullets logo with one of the hands holding a gun and the other reaching for dice, or an officially licensed "Agent Zero" jumper, complete with embroidered bandoliers and "Shooter" written on the back.

Kevin Durant

PORTLAND, OR - DECEMBER 25: Kevin Durant #35 of the Seattle SuperSonics drives to the basket during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden Arena on December 25, 2007 in Portland, Oregon. The Blazers won 89-79. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2007 NBAE (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)

Sam Forencich/Getty

The Seattle SuperSonics Horsehair Mourning Frock

You could go the obvious route, and stich together a map of the United States with the Sonics logo being chucked into the state of Oklahoma like a corner three, though I think folks in Seattle would prefer the alternate version: a black sweater with the words "Fuck Clay Bennett" printed on the front.



The Isiah Thomas Pullover

When Pistons legend and Knicks exec Isiah Thomas was at the center of a sexual harassment suit filed by former team employee Anucha Browne Sanders, it created a pall over the franchise that still exists to this day (despite the presence of Taylor Swift). The obvious route would be to focus on the harassment itself; but we can do better. I'm thinking of a menacing-looking Thomas leering over Madison Square Garden. As a bonus, it would work great as a Halloween costume, so buyers would get more bang for their buck. Which is more than the Knicks can ever say about Thomas.

Donald Sterling

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty

The Donald Sterling Fisherman Sweater

Have you seen those ugly sweaters with "Merry Christmas, ya Filthy Animal" on them? This would be like that, only featuring text from Sterling's insane and racist conversation with mistress V. Stiviano. You've got a lot to choose from. Personal favorite: "I love the Black People!" 

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