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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona men’s basketball debuts new uniforms inspired by ’88 Wildcats

Kohichiro Yamada

Oumar Ballo (11) and Dylan Anderson (44) saved and attacked one by one Sep 30, 2022. The Wildcats basketball red and blue game was held in McKale Center.

The Arizona men’s basketball team is throwing it all the way back to 1988, with their new uniforms revealed ahead of the 2022-23 season.

The University of Arizona has had many great teams throughout its existence, and one of those special squads is the 1987-88 team who took the court in McKale Center almost 35 years ago. 

That team, which was mentored by legendary Arizona coach Lute Olson, also had future NBA talent on the roster: Steve Kerr and Sean Elliott. The 1987-88 season was the first Final Four berth for the Wildcats.

The new throwback jerseys have the classic, curved “Arizona” in all caps across the chest and above the numbers, and the shorts feature a large block “A” with the word “cats” in all caps across the thighs. This is a more simplistic design with less frills, but still looks sharp and classy.

This will be the first major jersey update for the basketball team since the 2016-17 campaign began, from which the Wildcats have been wearing jerseys with a gradient pattern at the tops and bottoms of the uniform, supposedly mimicking the desert sunrise and sunset.

The 1988 throwback jerseys are a simplistic yet much-needed change for Arizona basketball. The previous uniforms with the gradient on the shoulders and shorts will likely be looked back on as the “Sean Miller era” Arizona jerseys, since he coached the Wildcats from 2009-21. 

A year ago, Tommy Lloyd took over as head coach of the Wildcats and led them to a Sweet 16 birth his first year with the team. Now a year later, with new uniforms and some new faces on the roster, Lloyd will look to build off of last year’s success.

Two memorable Wildcats who initially donned these classic uniforms back in 1988 were Elliott and Kerr, who would both go on to have long NBA careers after leaving Arizona.

About 35 years ago, as a 6-foot-8 junior, Elliott averaged 19.6 points per game to lead the 1987-88 Wildcats in scoring. He spent all four years of his college career in Tucson and would go on to be the No. 3 overall pick in the 1989 draft to the San Antonio Spurs. 

He played 12 NBA seasons, earning a championship with the Spurs in 1999. His number, 32, is retired by both the University of Arizona and the San Antonio Spurs.

Arizona men's basketball team player Kerr Kriisa (25) plays defense on Sept. 30 in McKale Center. The Blue team would win 49-45 over the Red team.
Arizona men’s basketball team player Kerr Kriisa (25) plays defense on Sept. 30 in McKale Center. The Blue team would win 49-45 over the Red team.

Current coach of the Golden State Warriors and nine-time NBA champion Kerr averaged 12.6 points, 3.9 assists and 2 rebounds per game with the Wildcats in a season that saw them reach the Final Four. Following his senior year in ‘87-88, Kerr was drafted No. 15 overall in the second round of the NBA draft to the Phoenix Suns. He would bounce around the league to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic before finding a footing with the Chicago Bulls in 1993. 

Kerr also won three NBA titles with Michael Jordan’s Bulls and two more as a member of the Spurs from 1999-2001. In 2014, Kerr was hired as head coach of the Golden State Warriors and has won four more NBA championships since 2015.

The Wildcats debuted the new throwback uniforms on at their annual Red-Blue game in McKale Center on Sept. 30. In the end, the blue team won the game 49-45 in front of a sold out crowd.

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