Sports Couture Karma: Transgressions will cost you

 

The inimitable Maurice Lucas in the uniform his Blazers adopted immediately after winning their first NBA Championship, in 1977. They've not won another.

 

So, I was watching some random highlight of a Patriots-Rams exhibition game about a year ago when it suddenly crystallized for me. It takes two points to make a line, and finally I had identified a second solid example of Sports Marketing Greed/Hubris, Couture Division.

Bill Walton models the jersey that won Portland a title. A year later, in new togs, he broke his foot, demanded a trade and was never the same again.

Exhibit A) The Portland Trailblazers win the NBA title in 1976-77, wearing the same plain-Jane uniforms (white at home, red on the road; the “Blazers” lettering reading vertically down the jersey) they had sported since their jo

ining the League in 1970. The very next season, they go to the arguably more attractive and apropos design — dual swaths, or blazes, of red, black and white that run diagonally across the breast and down the shorts. The result: They haven’t won a title since. Haven’t really come close, to be honest, despite a cou

ple trips back to the Finals. You think it’s an accident that one of the finest, most cohesive teams in NBA history literally disintegrated the moment they damned the championship karma and changed uniforms? Don’t be naïve.

I had always wondered why the Blazers tempted fate in this fashion, but I couldn’t prove that some sort of karmic law had been transgressed, until now.

These colors delivered the Rams Super Bowl glory.

Exhibit B) The St. Louis Rams win the 2000 Super Bowl in their old yellow-and-blue uniforms. The next year, attempting to cash in at the merchandize window, they switch to GOLD and blue. Again, arguably an upgrade in style and originality, but a bald-faced affront to a clearly winning formula. They return to the Super Bowl in 2001, lose to an inferior Patriots team and have since descended into chaos. Koros, Hubris, Ate, Nemesis — the classic Greek cycle of decline… Purists will note that the Rams’ yellow-and-blue togs were not their

originals. The dark blue and whites I associate with Roman Gabriel, Merlin Olson and the 1960s; the Rams actually go back to Cleveland in the late 1940s, and I have no idea what colors they wore then. My point: The yellow-and-blue had been worn a good long time prior to 2001, since the early 1970s. They were established.

 

A one-off merchandizing cash-in you  MIGHT get away with. But you can’t  win a franchise’s first-ever championship and change things up so radically. You just can’t.

These have not.

 

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