The Miami Heat just unveiled the third edition of their Vice series of jerseys, this time in a fluorescent pink. Are these jerseys doing too much?
Miami is a city rich with color.
From the pastels of Little Havana, to the clear blues and greens of Biscayne Bay, and even the neon glow of Ocean Drive, South Florida is a technicolor wonder.
The Miami Heat have decided to run with that theme, with the newest edition of their Vice Jerseys. Appropriately named “Sunset Vice,” these uniforms employ a pink base, behind that iconic “Miami” script done up in white, black and blue.
Though the jersey released according to Nike’s timeline—15 other teams unlocked a new look, essentially a real-life achievement for making the 2018 NBA Playoffs—it arrives just in time for the Heat fans to virtually ransack the team’s warehouses with holiday orders.
The white Vice jerseys debuted as the NBA’s most popular last season, and the black were much the same this year. But the pink version just might attract an even bigger market, one that isn’t aligned with Miami because of a guy wearing No. 3, or a slick-haired executive who governs from the shadows.
Often associated with Breast Cancer Awareness, Valentine’s Day and other festivities and occasions, the “Sunset Vice” jerseys can serve a purpose where other uniforms can’t. They are unique, without being beholden to an overtly athletic brand.
Every person who casually shrugged off the first two Vice jerseys will be immobilized at the eye sockets. Beyond custom gear, an NBA team has never worn the basketball equivalent of a Victoria’s Secret bag on the hardwood. Where the white and black variants turned heads, the pink jerseys are total game changers with regards to what was thought possible in NBA branding.
“Sunset Vice” is a winning idea on a few fronts.
According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the pink look is entirely the team’s doing. As the official jersey sponsor of the NBA, Nike usually leads the charge on designating uniform designs and implementation.
In the inaugural year, reports surfaced that Nike even set a schedule for each team’s jersey usage. While stars of the past would pick the day’s dress come game time, Nike became the middleman, stocking each teams’ locker room with the jersey of the day.
These “Sunset Vice” uniforms, however, are the continued outgrowth of Miami’s fan-favorite campaign, and individualistic nature. The team chose the pink design, over a leafy, palm tree one suggested by Nike.
The “Earned Edition” jerseys, as they are officially deemed by Nike, also are a success story given the significance of Miami’s 31st season. No one could have guessed that in Dwyane Wade’s final seaso,n he’d be streaking across the court in a blur of pink.
As much as it is a celebration of Miami’s reigning motif, it can also be attributed as an appropriate Wade sendoff into retirement.
Indeed, these jerseys are cool, hip and every other adjective that means “better than your favorite team’s.”
But at a deeper level, “Sunset Vice” might be too distracting.
Heat Culture gets thrown around a lot these days. Really, it’s one of the few noteworthy things about this up-then-down-then-up-again, Heat team.
The culture is responsible for getting Hassan Whiteside back on track (well, almost). The culture is responsible for Justise Winslow’s recent hot streak, and was responsible for Wade returning to the city. The culture is responsible for all those familiar faces that staff the Heat’s front offices and development programs (Alonzo Mourning, Shane Battier, Tony “the Coach” Fioretino and countless others).
But the culture isn’t gaudy. 6 AM workouts and hours long shootarounds, aren’t made for the fandom. Except for the LeBron James years, Miami has relegated itself to flying under the radar.
Even Miami’s lead graphic designer, Brett Maurer, was skeptical of how the colorway would fare.
“We were very hesitant about going fully pink,” Maurer told ESPN. “We don’t have free rein here. I get nervous every time I walk through the double doors into the [team’s] basketball operations [offices].”
These pink threads, however, turn Miami into a spectacle. The Heat are already win-less in their black vice uniforms, isn’t it too soon to expand on this seemingly cursed theme?
Whether it’s superstition or just a bold fashion statement, Miami’s laser fuchsia gear has a hearty legacy to uphold. With such a rich and diverse culture, a string of losses could easily phase out this look in favor of something with a new spin.
Until that change comes, make sure to carry an extra pair of shades; Heat games just got a whole lot brighter.