The Chicago Bulls are one of the most globally recognizable brands in all of sports. A franchise anchored in tradition, there's a reason the team's central design elements — like the logo, uniform and court — have broadly stood the test of time.
Not much has changed since the team was founded in 1966-67. But for a handful of game each season, the Bulls have no choice but to deviate from their classic threads in favor of a special uniform designed by Nike. All 30 teams release a new "City Edition" uniform every season designed to "represent the stories, history and heritage that make each franchise unique – honoring the inherent bond between, court, community and culture," according to the NBA.
The NBA unveiled the City Edition concept in 2017 when Nike took over as the league's official jersey manufacturer.
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Here's a brief history of all seven Bulls City Edition uniforms. Each was uniquely crafted to pay homage to the city we call home.
The first Nike NBA City Edition jersey the Bulls ever donned was inspired by the Chicago flag. A white uniform with red and blue accents, the jersey featured four red stars running vertical down side, the iconic script Chicago font across the chest and the words "Sweet Home" near the bottom tag.
The Bulls paid homage to the city's flag again with their second set of City Editions. This time, the jersey was black with four red six-pointed stars sandwiched between two blue stripes across the chest.
The stripes represented the color of Lake Michigan and the two branches of the Chicago River. The stars represented four major events in Chicago's history: Fort Dearborn, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, and the Century of Progress Exposition of 1933–34.
These powder blue uniforms were a nod to the city's famous waterfronts: Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. Only a large Chicago Bulls logo was displayed on the front of the jersey.
The Bulls finally deviated from the Chicago flag and went for a design inspired by Chicago's architectural history, with a focus on the infamous art deco style and ironwork framing that permeates the city. It paid homage to the gold trim found on many buildings in downtown Chicago, as well as the signage font used at the United Center.
The phrase "No Little Plans" was stitched near the bottom as an ode to Daniel Burnham, the city planner who designed the city after the great Chicago fire of 1871. He was also the executive director of works for the 1893 World's Fair.
This "Moments Mixtape" inspired uniform paid multiple homages to the team's history. On the front of this bright red jersey was a nod to the diagonal Chicago script font of the 1980s, the decade in which Michael Jordan was drafted.
The shorts feature red pinstripes on a black diamond background trimmed with red, white and black taping — a callback to the dynastic 1990s. The white side taping and numbering hearkens back to the founding of the franchise in the late 1960s.
The rust color was intended to reflect the famous bridges crossing the Chicago river. The "Y" shape patterned throughout the uniform was drawn from the Chicago Municipal “Y," which appears in the shape of the three branches of the Chicago River that stretch across the city and unite at the heart of the city's downtown.
The Bulls' newest City Edition uniforms give a strong nod to the building that preceded the United Center, the famed — and razed — Chicago Stadium.
The jersey features the phrase "Madhouse on Madison," given to the building for its architectural design that made the noise from the first and second balconies so loud, as well as the famed pipe organ.
The "Madhouse on Madison" is where the Bulls' first three-peat teams played, and Friday's uniforms pay tribute in details ranging from the parallel "Chicago" on the jersey that replicates the signage outside Chicago Stadium to the two parallel stripes on the shorts representing "the four-corner window patterning" on the old barn.