Pattern of Excellence: Nike and UK to Unveil New Look for Hoops Team
Oct. 10, 2008
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Nike and the University of Kentucky will celebrate the state's great tradition on the hardwood this evening, while recognizing another tradition intertwined within the spirit, culture and history of the Bluegrass state.
With Lexington's historic Keeneland racetrack as the backdrop, representatives from Nike and UK will formally unveil new uniforms for the 2008-09 University of Kentucky men's basketball team. The updated look incorporates a multitude of performance innovations and a distinctive design that draws upon another rich Kentucky institution as ingrained in the state's lore as basketball - horse racing.
Inspiration from the Track
Across the rolling hills, from Keeneland to Churchill Downs, the echoes and influence of the thoroughbred are virtually omnipresent throughout the state of Kentucky. The University of Kentucky's new uniforms pay tribute to the state's long and prestigious horse racing tradition, as well as that of its men's basketball program, one that has garnered over 1900 wins and seven championships.
Inspired in part by the jockey silks that adorned the likes of Kentucky legends on the racetrack, the Wildcats' new shorts and jerseys each features elements of a royal blue and white checkerboard pattern. The checkered design subtly plays out on the front of the team's jerseys and shorts.
In addition, on Kentucky's white uniforms, a blue and white checkerboard swatch is centered on the waistband of their shorts and features eight individual "boxes." Emblazoned in seven of the eight squares are the numbers '48, '49, '51, '58, '78, '96 and '98, representing championship seasons for the Wildcats. The "empty" eighth quadrant serves as a reminder of the school's legacy and motivation for the current Wildcats to ensure another year is soon inscribed within it.
"Our hope was to use the uniform as a canvas to tell a bigger story of the championship spirit of the state of Kentucky and its basketball team," said Tracy Teague, Global Creative Director for Nike Basketball. "Additionally, we desired to create functional uniforms that allowed the players to display the athleticism, power, speed and strength critical for success on the court."
Performance Benefits for the Court
Kentucky's new uniforms incorporate several Nike innovations that were first introduced for the USA Basketball Men's National Team that captured gold this past August in Beijing. The jerseys take advantage of Nike Aerographics, an engineered mesh providing zoned cooling that reduces up to half the yarn, making it more lightweight and breathable. Specific adjustments in the waistband, shoulder seam and other areas, along with Nike Dri-FIT technology, provide increased comfort and thermoregulation to enable players to perform at their optimal level on the court.
"The University of Kentucky is honored to be selected as the first collegiate basketball team to incorporate Nike's new innovations," said Kentucky Head Coach Billy Gillispie. "The elements of the new uniforms featuring two of our greatest heroes are a reminder of the passion that the Bluegrass state has for its horse racing and Kentucky basketball."
Honoring a Kentucky Legend
In addition to design and performance enhancements, the Wildcats new look is special for another important reason. Each player's jersey includes a special call out to Kentucky legend Bill Keightley. In the Bluegrass state, and basketball circles around the world, Keightley was known simply as "Mr. Wildcat." He served as an equipment manager for the University of Kentucky men's basketball team for more than 48 years and was a part of their '78, '96 and '98 championship teams.
An enthusiastic and ever-welcoming fixture of Wildcats basketball for nearly half a century, Keightley is one of only two non-players to have a jersey retired in Rupp Arena and in 2007 was inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame. He died earlier this year at the age of 81, and, in his honor, UK's new uniforms feature a black patch across the shoulder with "Mr. Wildcat" in script.
Midnight Madness Debut
The Wildcats will wear the new uniforms for the first time during the school's Midnight Madness festivities and throughout the 2008-09 season.
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