WNBA Jersey Rankings: Rebel Edition
With the twenty-fifth WNBA season set to begin next month, the league unveiled a new set of jerseys that finally replaced the outdated, advertisement-heavy, youth league jerseys that the 12 teams donned in recent years. After many criticized Nike for not delivering for the WNBA in the same way they've been for the NBA, the athletic apparel titan delivered in a big way by creating three new jerseys for each team. These jersey sets were introduced as the Heroine, Explorer, and Rebel Editions (or H.E.R.), with the Heroine uniforms being white home uniforms, the Explorer uniforms being away sets, and the Rebel uniforms essentially acting as alternates.
These brand new Rebel Edition jerseys are what I’m focusing on for these rankings, as they not only are the most unique and expressive jerseys, but they all tell a story unique to their home. With this in mind, my criteria for these jerseys are the overall design and the message behind them. So without further ado, let’s get to it.
**NOTE** The Dallas Wings’ had their Rebel jerseys pulled because they didn’t align with the team or the league’s values. The jerseys were inspired by the P-40 Warhawk, which was a World War II plane manufactured in Texas and flown by Women Air Force Service Pilots; however, the WASP program didn’t accept a single Black applicant during the war. The Wings and Nike are working on a new Rebel Edition uniform design, but for now, they’re scrapped from the rankings.
11. Phoenix Mercury
Don’t get me wrong; I like these jerseys, but someone has to be last in these rankings, and Phoenix’s Rebel jerseys leave a bit to the imagination. Speaking on the design, I enjoy the letter and number font as well as the flames on the side, but these look more like traditional away uniforms than a unique creation. Also, I’m not fond of the advertisement placement and size right below the numbers. As for the meaning behind this uniform, it was designed in appreciation to the Mercury’s fan base, which is known as the “X-factor,” hence the orange-highlighted X in "PHX." I like the inclusion of the dedicated fan base, but once again, someone had to be last, and this message didn’t really do it for me.
10. Los Angeles Sparks
These jerseys remind me of the Lakers' Black Mamba jerseys, only without the snakeskin-like material. I like these jerseys as a basic away jersey, but for a city like Los Angeles, there’s so much more the Sparks could have done with a brand new alternate jersey. This is especially true when you consider that this team has historically had bright and colorful uniforms throughout the history of the franchise. The stars on the side are meant to represent Los Angeles’ nickname, The City of Stars, but for a team in the epicenter of American culture and fashion, I was hoping that shooting for the stars would’ve produced a more inspiring product.
9. Minnesota Lynx
There are some very creative, lowkey elements to this jersey that I like, including the sublimated stars that cover the entirety of the jersey’s background. I also like the block lettering that is used for both the team name and the numbers; it gives off a Brooklyn Nets type of feel that I enjoy. However, given the inspiration for this jersey is the historic First Avenue nightclub in Minnesota, the epicenter of the city’s live music and entertainment scene, I believe the Lynx’s Rebel jerseys fall a little flat. We're talking about the same city that's home to Prince, who even the Timberwolves paid tribute to. All in all, even though I like these jerseys, the conservatism of the design holds it back from being truly great.
8. Seattle Storm
I love the fact that the Storm play into the grunginess of Seattle with these Rebel Jerseys. From the state that produced one of the greatest grunge bands of all time in Nirvana, Seattle’s jersey has an aesthetic that isn’t seen very often on sports uniforms. The grey stripe across the middle is a nice touch and symbolizes female empowerment coupled with well-worn graphic type. This plays into the overall inspiration of the city’s history of political engagement, which I dig completely. My one knock on this jersey is that I wish they would have played into the grunge inspiration or the political engagement a bit more instead of being stuck in the middle of two very promising themes.
7. Indiana Fever
Speaking solely on the design, these jerseys are incredible. The red specks on top of the black jersey with the Stranger Things font works incredibly well, and I am eager to see these in action. Not very often do you have a TV-inspired jersey that is also completely badass (with the exception of the Norfolk Tides and their Spongebob Squarepants jerseys), but the Fever manage to do so with their Stranger Things-themed Rebel jerseys. These jerseys are meant to represent the Upside Down, the eerie alternate dimension in Stranger Things, with the dark theme embodying the team’s readiness for combat. However, while I love the show and the execution of the design, I have to knock the Fever for using a fictional show as their inspiration for these jerseys (even though I know that Indiana doesn’t inspire much).
6. Las Vegas Aces
In a city best known for its casinos and overall debauchery, the Aces have done well to lean into the gambling nature of their host city. From their team name to their new jerseys, the Aces understand what Las Vegas is all about, and they nail these jerseys. The number and team name placement are unique in a way that’s refreshing and fun, but the attention to detail on this jersey really carries it to the top half of these rankings. From the four-card suits lined up on the shorts' waistline to the subtle diamond pattern across the jersey and shorts, Vegas and Nike effectively utilize the inspiration of Sin City without going obnoxiously over the top.
5. New York Liberty
The inspiration for a powerful female figure in the city of New York was right in front of the Liberty’s faces, and they absolutely nailed it. When you have a 300-foot statue that represents liberty and equality overlooking your city, you have to take advantage of it. From the Lady Liberty-inspired jersey color to the torch replacing the "I" in Equality, these jerseys prove that you don't always need to overthink the simple decision; not much else needs to be said.
4. Connecticut Sun
I’ll be honest, these jerseys didn’t do much for me at first glance. After analyzing the attention to detail and researching the inspiration a bit more, I believe they are some of the best jerseys in the league. Every part of this jersey relates to the Mohegan Tribe, and I love that the Sun made the effort to represent Indigenous people in a way that we don’t see at all in sports (i.e. the Indians, The Redskins, etc.). The Mohegans are an Indigenous Tribal Nation that is located in Connecticut near the Thames River. The word “Keesusk” is the Mohegan word for "Sun," and the neckline features canoes while the trim includes patterns that represent the Mohegan Trail of Life. On top of this, Nike and the Sun worked alongside members of the Mohegan Tribe in order to ensure the uniform embraced the history and symbolism of the Mohegans.
3. Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream have my personal favorite inspiration behind any of the Rebel Uniforms, as they represent 90s hip-hop and Atlanta culture. The hints of silver on the uniform are meant to symbolize the platinum records the city has produced, while the vibrant colors represent the legacy of the female recording artists of Atlanta. Aside from the inspiration, this jersey is so visually appealing with its pop of vibrant blue that makes the ATL lettering stand out from the charcoal-like base color of the jersey. The stripes on the side—which serve as the vinyl records of past and present female artists—help to push this jersey to my top three as they boldly enhance the eye-catching nature of the uniform.
2. Chicago Sky
These jerseys are meant to represent a shattering of the glass ceiling, a metaphor used to represent women breaking through the barriers that have limited their upward mobility in the workplace and in daily life. This explains why these jerseys have shattered lines throughout; this is a very unique design that is enhanced by the two shades of blue that the Sky used for this design. I also like the idea of using a city’s nickname for an alternate jersey, adding to the creativity and uniqueness that I believe all alternates should have. The design, as well as the message behind it, work very well together as one of the most inspiring and creative designs of all the new WNBA uniforms.
1. Washington Mystics
The number one slot goes to the team out of the nation’s capital. This is not only for the simple yet elegant design of the uniforms, but also because of the attention to detail that enhances the message behind the uniform. The pink, navy, and cream colorway is a unique spin on the classic red, white, and blue that the majority of D.C. teams use for their uniform designs. I also like the idea of the team name; in this case, the “Rise” text being written within the stripe across the front of the jersey. Getting deeper into the design and how it connects to the message, the cream stripe that underscores the larger pink stripe has the words of the 19th Amendment within it. The 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote in 1920, and it is very fitting for a women’s team in Washington, D.C. to utilize in their design—especially when you consider how the WNBA has been at the forefront of the battle for social justice and progress in this country. The pink stripe also has symbolism to it, as it is in the shape of the route that is most taken when protests and marches are held in Washington. This route goes through the streets of D.C. and leads to the National Mall, where iconic monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument are located. This is a unique design, and it’s clear that a tremendous amount of thought was put into it.