Basketball throwback jerseys are modern versions of older jerseys. They are designed to invoke nostalgia in fans by celebrating former teams, as well as provide a different jersey for teams to make money from.
For NBA teams, throwback jerseys are usually used as alternate jerseys. In NCAA basketball, most throwback jerseys will be associated with famous players from the program. While this does happen in the NBA, it is more prevalent in college.
On certain nights of any given season, teams will wear their throwback jerseys as mandated by the league. In these cases, both teams will wear their throwback jerseys. Teams can also choose to wear them individually on certain nights with permission from the league.
At the college level, the rules are less transparent. Conferences, brands, or the league may set up special days where a number of teams wear throwbacks in a game setting. However, due to the shorter schedule and often changing uniform deals, it is less frequent than in the NBA.
The Toronto Raptors purple jersey featuring a raptor in basketball gear might be the most famous alternate uniforms in basketball history. This is mostly due to Vince Carter's famous 2000 dunk contest performance, when he donned the uniform for the entire memorable display.
It might feel wrong to put the Lakers and Celtics in the same category, but the classic green and white squaring off against the block-lettered purple and gold from the 80s are the nostalgic looks many think of when they reminisce about professional basketball.
Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway made the classic black and white pinstripe look iconic in Orlando when they almost won the NBA finals in the mid-90s. While Shaq didn't return, the look still continues to be reimagined in modern NBA.
While there are many college throwbacks to choose from, the Orange's campus is still rife with Carmelo Anthony shirts from the early 2000s as a reminder of the program's only title. Much of the throwback options in college are reminders of successful periods in their history.
For fans, throwback jerseys are items of clothing that show who the real fans are. Often they remind fans of past eras of success. They can also be useful links for generations of sports fans as gifts to parents or grandparents to help bridge generational gaps.
In the online era of shopping, buying throwback jerseys has never been easier. The NBA sells many different team jerseys on their store and college campuses are littered with official and unofficial gear.