clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Denver Nuggets: In the navy

Cobalt, cerulean, royal, sapphire... Is this the season for the Nuggets to metaphorically ditch their current blues for something a little... darker?

Sometimes you have to get a little dark, just for things to go your way. When the Denver Rockets became the Denver Nuggets in 1976, they came out of the gates hot, winning 50 games for coach Larry Brown before losing in the conference semifinals. Brown took them to the conference finals the following year before leaving the team. The first Nuggets NBA uniform? A lovely shade of semi-dark blue...

(all uniform representations courtesy of

The Nuggets shifted to an even darker look in 1982, a road jersey that they’d wear for three seasons. The look would become iconic for them, and they wore it to a 45-win campaign in that first season on the floor. By the third season in the rainbow skyline (84-85), coach Doug Moe would take the Nuggets to their second trip to the Western Conference Finals.

Then they’d lighten up a little bit...

And while Moe took them to the playoffs five more times, they never got back to the conference finals. In 1990, the team made a coaching change, a personnel change, and no uniform change. People were worn out on the lighter skyline after 20- and 24-win seasons under Paul Westhead. Dan Issel stepped in and limped the rainbow jerseys back to respectability in their last year on the court (92-93). And then...

The 1993-1994 season brought back a darker shade, across the entire color palette. Burgundy and gold joined a deep navy blue. These were the uniforms the Nuggets were wearing...

when this happened...

(image courtesy of Seattle Sportsnet)

Denver wore those jerseys into the playoffs for two straight seasons before the bottom dropped out for eight seasons in a row. Speaking of rows, the 03-04 campaign brought a kid in cornrows, and first version of the powder blue jersey that we’ve had as the primary road uniform ever since. It wasn’t until two seasons later that the team would introduce a third uniform that quickly became popular amongst fans and players alike. Another trip back to the deeper blues:

The first four seasons with a dark blue jersey brought 44, 45, 50, and 54 wins, with the latter (08-09) marking the Nuggets last trip to the Western Conference Finals. Denver won 53 and 50 in the seasons following, before still winning at a .576 clip in the strike-shortened season that wrapped up the dark blue third jersey’s tenure in Denver in the 11-12 season.

The Nuggets have not had a dark blue option ever since. Not that they’ve not still seen success, as the Nuggets best single season record came the year after the tertiary dark blues, when the yellow skyline came into play. It’s all coincidence anyway, right? Who cares if a jersey is dark or not? Well...

While recently re-visited research (re re re) specifically debunks the idea that a middling blue had an influence over white, the study did validate a couple of color-theory-dominant colors, including that red actually does seem to impact a team’s win/loss record, and that players wearing darker colors are often more aggressive, and also often more penalized. That aggression/penalization schema has a chicken-or-the-egg feel to it, similar to the phenomenon which exists on the road. Drivers of red cars get more speeding tickets, statistically. Is that because the cop is looking out for the “racy” and easily spotted car, or because the driver thinks his red car should be going a little faster and zipping in and out of traffic? Does a player play more aggressively in the dark uniforms, or are referees prone to thinking the guy in the “black hat” is literally the bad guy in some deep recesses of their brain? In both examples, the data seems to suggest it’s some of both.

So what? The Nuggets going back to a deeper shade of blue can’t actually impact the play of the team, can it? If it just so happens that their play, aggression, and win totals improve, it’s just a facet of smart moves made to an improving squad, right? Actually, not necessarily. The psychology of color has been closely studied by good marketers and branding experts for decades, and it’s impact has deep meaning in how consumers perceive a brand. It doesn’t seem a giant leap to think that the color could actually impact the product itself when there’s a human being inside that wrapper.

What say you, Nuggets Nation? Do the Nuggets new dark blues portend anything more than a changing of the guard amongst the player ranks? Or could a bit of midnight blue give the team a nudge in the right direction?


About those dark blue Denver Nuggets jerseys being back...

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    This is silly. It’s just a color change, nothing more.
    (138 votes)
  • 25%
    It could make the team feel tougher, I suppose, but probably doesn’t translate to much in the way of wins.
    (77 votes)
  • 29%
    Color psychology is real, and just might tack another win or two onto the end of the season.
    (89 votes)
304 votes total Vote Now