The Miami Heat's "Vice" jerseys are the best in the National Basketball League. ESPN today declared them the "coolest" uniforms in basketball. More important, South Floridians love the alternate color scheme: Neon Vice merchandise is all over the region. The jerseys are the highest-selling alternate uniforms in NBA history, and the team is now even peddling the neon Vice logo on car license plates.
The team today unveiled yet another iteration of the Vice jersey — an alternate-alternate jersey — which is mostly hot pink. The new threads come as part of Nike's "Earned Edition" uniform series, a set of new jerseys that the brand is giving this year only to teams that made the 2017-18 playoffs. The new Heat uniform is, importantly, also very good:
Miami Heat unveil new "Sunset Vice" earned edition uniform.— Locked On Heat (@LockedOnHeat) December 12, 2018
The team will wear them Dec. 26, 28 and 30. On sale online Dec. 19. pic.twitter.com/3ALGXczOje
The Heat's social media branding is entirely behind the Vice jersey series. The team even unveiled a court with "Vice" stenciled in the center for "Vice Nights" at the American Airlines Arena. But the team bizarrely told ESPN's NBA columnist, Zach Lowe, today that — against everyone's better judgment, the wishes of New Times, and the desire of fans — the team does not plan to make the Vice jerseys the main team uniforms.
The old uniforms "aren't going anywhere," Michael McCullough, the Heat's executive vice president and chief marketing officer, told ESPN. "We are probably never gonna change those uniforms. We have a lot of brand equity in them."
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It's that same sort of logic — tradition over painfully needed improvement — that doomed the NBA to have teams called the "Los Angeles Lakers" and "Utah Jazz" even though there is scant water in Southern California and even less jazz in Salt Lake City. (The teams originated in Minneapolis and New Orleans, respectively, and should have changed their names upon moving. Imagine if the Philadelphia 76ers moved to Vancouver but kept their colonial theme.)
On the flip side, there is no better "brand equity" in Miami than the city itself. Check out this PR video the team published when the original Vice jerseys debuted last season. The jersey colors mimic not only the neon signs at the old Miami Arena and the marquees on Ocean
That is some Miami "brand equity" (especially at a time when the Heat's on-court "brand" of basketball is, shall we say, dismal). There is now no guarantee that the Vice jerseys will exist beyond this season — why would fans buy them now, knowing they're a blatant cash grab? Make the damn things permanent already!