The opening of the 2009-10 season marks the debut of Shaquille O'neal in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform. As the Cavs take to the court against the Celtics tonight, an NBA legend will be appearing in a uniform that looks very strange. Like Shaq's time in Phoenix, he just does not look right in the Cavs colors. I'm sure as the season goes on, we will all get more comfortable with the site of Shaq as a Cav, but for now, it just feels a bit strange.
Let's take a look at some of the most familiar names in the history of the NBA wearing uniforms that just didn't look quite right. Nobody personifies this idea more than Michael Jordan. When you think of Michael Jordan, the only image that comes to mind in him wearing his famous #23 for the Chicago Bulls. No image is more burned into the memories of sports fans than Michael and his #23 Chicago Bulls look.
As we all know, Jordan's career took several detours as it played out and that created several images of Michael in some looks that just don't quite feel right. When Michael retired from the NBA the first time, he tried his hand at baseball. The image of Michael Jordan in his Barons baseball uniform just seemed really odd. Luckily, Jordan's baseball career was short lived and he eventually returned to the NBA and the Chicago Bulls.
Upon Micheal's return to the Bulls however, he didn't come back completely the same. During his comeback, Michael decided not to use his familiar #23, but the #45 instead. Seeing Michael Jordan on the court in a Bulls uniform with anything other than the #23 was a really strange sight. Jordan's game showed a little bit of rust after the layoff and the uniform number just made the sight of Jordan's return to the NBA that much stranger. Thankfully he returned to the number 23 and his former playing greatness a short time later.
The most obvious unusual look for Michael Jordan came after he left the Chicago Bulls to join the Washington Wizards for the final two years of his career. Seeing Michael Jordan in a Wizard's uniform just did not make sense. Not only was Michael's #23 Bulls look one of the most recognizable in the league, it was one of the cleanest, classiest designs around. Seeing Jordan on the court in those awful Wizards colors and crazy logo was just not right. Even stranger was the sight of a Washington Bullets themed jersey with Michael inside.
Michael wasn't the only NBA legend from his era that spent some time in some unfamiliar uniform territory. Dominique Wilkins was instantly recognized in his classic #21 for the Atlanta Hawks. How can you forget Nique's classic look and his battles with Michael Jordan and others in all of those NBA Slam Dunk Competitions? Though best remembered for his Atlanta Hawks look, many may not remember that the Human Highlight Film finished out his NBA career with stops in San Antonio and Boston.
Another great from the era was Patrick Ewing. Ewing's image will always be etched in our minds as a member of the New York Knicks. Late in his career however, Patrick could be seen in a much more unfamiliar look, with stops at Seattle with the Supersonics and with the Magic in Orlando. The sight of Ewing in these uniforms is another look that just confuses the uniform identifying mind.
A few more former NBA stars who had a few strange looks include Charles Barkley with the Houston Rockets, Hakeem Olajuwan with the Toronto Raptors, Scottie Pippen with the Portland Trailblazers (seen here being guarded by the Wizards' Michael Jordan..........strange on many levels), and a player who tried to steal that elusive NBA Championship with one last dash with the Lakers, Karl Malone.