#NBArank: The top 10 NBA uniforms of all time

Old-school unis a favorite in the NBA (1:13)

Tim MacMahon, Tom Haberstroh, Brian Windhorst and Ohm Youngmisuk discuss which uniforms from ESPN's #NBArank project they like the most. (1:13)

Basketball uniforms present a tricky design challenge. There's no headwear, no long pants and no sleeves (well, usually), so you don't have much space to work with. And uniform numbers are required to appear on the front of the jersey, which eats up a lot of the prime real estate. So it's not surprising that basketball uniforms have historically been less interesting than their baseball, football and hockey counterparts.

Still, some NBA uniforms have been better than others. But which ones have been the best of all?

In an attempt to answer that question, here are your friendly uniform columnist's picks for the 10 best uni designs in NBA basketball history. For those scoring at home, the following ground rules were observed: No alternate or one-off designs were considered -- just basic home and road uniforms. No uniforms from defunct ABA franchises, either (sorry, Spirits of St. Louis!), although ABA-era designs from teams that were later merged into the NBA were eligible for consideration.

OK, enough preliminaries. Ready, set, argue!

1. San Francisco Warriors, late 1960s

Everyone should be able to agree on this one, right? From the Golden Gate Bridge on the front to the cable car on the back, everything about the fabled "The City" design is sheer perfection. Kudos to the Warriors for using it as the basis for their current design. (For more info about the original "The City" design, look here.)

2. New York Nets, mid-1970s

Nowadays, practically every team in every sports dresses up in stars and stripes for various patriotic promotions. But has any star-spangled uniform ever looked as good as the one worn by the Dr. J-era Nets? Nope.

3. Atlanta Hawks, 1980s

The Hawks have had some eye-popping (and sometimes eye-searing) uniform designs over the years, from their late-1990s birdman costume to their current quilted neon look. But their 1980s design, with its bold striping and diagonal typography, was just the right mix of playful and audacious. It was one of the most groundbreaking designs of its era, and it has aged extremely well.

4. Boston Celtics, anytime

Sometimes you don't want groundbreaking -- you just want classic. And it doesn't get much more classic than Boston's timeless green and white. Whether worn by Bill Russell, Larry Bird, or Isaiah Thomas, it's the NBA's definitive look. Too bad the Celtics are going to defile it next season with GE advertising patches.

5. Washington Bullets, 1970s

From the horizontal stripes to the great chest logo with the two hands reaching up for the ball, the Bullets' old look was a beauty. The franchise's current incarnation, the Washington Wizards, have used it as the inspiration for their current design, but that can't compete with the original version.

6. Indiana Pacers, early 1970s

Ah, the racing stripe. So simple, but so dynamic! True, this template was also worn by the Hawks, but it always looked better in Indiana, in part because of the superior color scheme but also because racing stripe makes more sense for the Pacers, whose team name refers to the pace cars in the Indianapolis 500.

7. Denver Nuggets, 1980s

"Hey, you know that rule about having to wear a number on the front of the jersey? Nobody said it had to be smack-dab in the center, right? If we made it smaller and moved it up and over to one side, we'd have room for all sorts of cool stuff, like an outline of the Denver skyline. But it needs something more to put it over the top. Hmmm. How about wraparound rainbow striping? Yes!"

8. Seattle SuperSonics, late 1970s

Speaking of wraparound striping, the Sonics totally nailed that design element. The stripe served to house the team name on the front and the player's name on the back -- nice, right? And you can't go wrong with a green-gold color scheme. Too bad the franchise didn't maintain that chromatic legacy when it moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder.

9. Phoenix Suns, current

This one might surprise people, but the Suns' current design, which was introduced in 2013, has the feel of a modern classic. It's based on the team's 1990s set but looks classier and less cartoonish. The way the diagonal lines suggest the presence of the basketball (or, if you prefer, the sun) without actually showing it is a great design device that lets your mind's eye fill in the missing space. The Suns have cluttered up their wardrobe with lots of extraneous alternate uniforms, but the basic home and road designs -- especially the home whites -- are first-rate. Here's hoping they stick with that look for many years to come.

10. Portland Trail Blazers, 1980s

You don't see diagonal striping used very often on sports uniforms, but the Blazers have made it their signature design element for four decades and counting. They've gone through several diagonally striped designs over the years, but the best version was the first one, with the all-lowercase lettering.

Paul Lukas likes the old racing stripe template so much that he adapted it for a Uni Watch T-shirt design. If you like this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, check out his Uni Watch merchandise, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.