Worst Jersey: Strictly enforced LA area school dress codes inspire geekiness

Gang association minimized (obviously a good thing!), but those replacements had to be band-aids for better designs arriving at an eternity’s pace

Last week. the staff of Jewels from the Crown voted on the worst Kings jersey of all time, with the infamous Burger King jersey coming out on top. Today, Dominic shares his experiences growing up as a Kings fan in LA and how that shaped his own pick for worst jersey.

Growing up in Southern California, I Understand Why

But why??  Looking back, I feel like if I were to tell you that they just had to have something, perhaps having a process that entailed drawing straws of various lengths, or spinning a wheel, that process could be believed.  I’m sure there was a well-thought out process, many hours were spent on the decision among a few designs.  In any event, I was never a fan of that jersey.

My nomination for the worst Los Angeles Kings jersey made its debut in the 1998-1999 season:

If I had one interview question to ask Zigmund Palffy, who made his LA Kings debut having to wear this hideous jersey, I wouldn’t ask him for his favorite memories from his career with the Kings.  I wouldn’t ask him if he was enjoying the Lakers run as Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were coming into their own as many Angelenos were.  I would ask him which jersey he thought was worse between the one above and this monstrosity while with the New York Why??-landers:

At my most objective, I would hope he would agree with me that the Kings jersey was an aesthetic upgrade.  Given that nhluniforms.com indicates that the Islanders jersey lasted merely from 1995-1997, the Kings one should win out.  At least, one would think so, considering the logo stayed on the chest from 1998-2007 one way or another.

Before I break down sharing my gripes with the Kings jersey, I will share my account growing up in Los Angeles about the evolution leading to said jersey.

Brief History

Winning Cures All, but with Kings Seldom Winning, No Cure

The Los Angeles Kings shared the same color scheme as their far more successful NBA roommates from the old Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California, the Los Angeles Lakers.  The Forum Blue (as the purple was officially known) and Gold of the Lakers easily looked cool in the ‘80s, thanks to them winning five NBA championships in the decade.  In addition, with so much exposure on national TV facilitated by long playoff runs, and boasting all-time greats of the league like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy, the sports fan simply could have first gotten used to seeing that color scheme, and then soon finding it cool with all the success.

To put it lightly however, the team on the ice lacked similar levels of success as the one on the hardwood, having never advanced past the second round.  The Kings most successful playoff moment in the decade was a first round upset in 1982 of the heavily favored Edmonton Oilers, featuring the Miracle on Manchester game when they turned a 0-5 deficit into a 6-5 win in OT.  Easy to see how the Kings Forum Blue and Gold never caught on, and was easy to replace when new Kings owner Bruce McNall traded for the best NHL player at the time, Wayne Gretzky.

Trading for Gretzky . . . and for an Unintentionally New Image

The acquisition of Gretzky in the summer of 1988 easily qualified as a great reason for a sartorial makeover.  Out with the Forum Blue and Gold and crown, and in with the Silver and Black and the chevron.  Out with looking similar to the Lakers, and in the process, in with looking similar to the (at the time) LA Raiders.  During that time in Los Angeles, the Raiders had been gaining an association with gangs.

Granted, I didn’t grow up in an area where gang violence was rampant and commonplace.  Yet, as early as my middle school years, word traveled around about gang violence involving someone, or several someones, who might have walked the same school hallways.  Not long after, they soon became easily identifiable for wearing Raiders apparel.  Soon enough, the gang association carried over to Kings apparel.  Within months, school dress codes banned all Raiders and Kings gear, as a method to prevent students from being targeted for possible gang violence.  So with Gretzky long traded away from Los Angeles, and more importantly, the hope Kings apparel could be worn in schools again in the late 1990s, out came THOSE jerseys.

Let Me Count the Ways

  • First off, those two hockey sticks look like a bad knockoff of a certain team’s older logo that was formerly owned by an entertainment corporation who recently released their own streaming service (of all teams to knockoff, right Kings fans?!)
  • Having “Los Angeles” scrolled across the bottom, for what?  To clarify that “LA” at the top of the shield stands for “Los Angeles”?  There is no other NHL city with the initials “LA” that cause confusion.
  • The addition of purple, again, is to present an apparel option for Kings fans to wear, without the fear of being mistaken for a member of a street gang.  It does feel like they put it out, simply for the sake of putting out something.
  • As for the shield itself, the crown is on the left panel, a lion with sunglasses is in the center and largest panel, and a sun is on the right panel.  It leads one to scratch their heads among both sides, on top, in the back, and with either hand./

With a crown being the first accessory in mind in regards to a king, I can’t fathom why the crown would be in one of the smaller panels.

I’ve never seen a lion with sunglasses (if that even is a lion), nor understand why it occupies the center portion.

The sun in the right panel is all weird.  Yes, the weather in LA is nice, but it’s not like people talk about how nice the weather is all the time.  They do have conversations about an infinite number of topics, just like everywhere else, and the sunny weather is just . . . there, taken for granted and easily forgotten.  Further, the sun is in front of a black backdrop.  If a symbol would have a backdrop of that color, a crescent moon would make more sense.

  • The Forum Blue and Gold jerseys survived with minor tweaks through the first 20 years, while this one was phased out far more quickly.  It’s easy to conclude the pre-Gretzky uniforms were more attractive./

Final Thought

I’m sticking with it.  Given that the Kings have enjoyed two Stanley Cups, and reached their 50-year anniversary a few years ago, they have been able to enjoy their history as an NHL franchise.  They have done this, among other means, by sporting jerseys past on retro nights.  They’ve given out bobblehead figures, posters and honored past stars on legends nights while wearing the Gold uniforms, or the Forum Blue uniforms.  Later this season, they will even bust out the maligned jerseys that were banned at my middle and high schools.  Kings fans even wear the Burger King jerseys with pride at Staples Center, and have enough demand to have them available on the store racks.  I can’t be the only one who hates those jerseys that debuted for the 1998-1999 season.