Lillard draws on his experience in the North West when designing the new “Statement” shirt
It’s almost impossible to estimate how many times Damian Lillard has seen the Trail Blazers reel logo. Every time he crosses the Moda Center half court, every time he walks through the doors of the team’s training facility, there’s the reel. So the number of times over 10 seasons, 711 games, thousands of practices and countless public appearances that Lillard has been within sight of the iconic Trail Blazers logo must number in the tens of thousands at least.
But in all the times Lillard has seen the reel logo, which depicts five players from two teams working together and competing against each other, he has never seen it on the team’s jerseys. So when the team approached Lillard to find out what he would like to see on their 2022-23 uniforms, his first thought was to showcase the image he’s seen almost every day for the past decade.
“I didn’t want to get too crazy, but I wanted it to be different from what we usually had,” Lillard said. “I wanted to do something with the reel on it, we don’t have uniforms where it’s just the reel. It was something I knew I wanted to do, so we did it.
So, with input from Lillard – he served as art director during the design process – the Trail Blazers’ 2022-23 “State” jersey features a black pinwheel logo, the first time it has graced a jersey, centered on a field of red.
“You see the reel all the time,” Lillard said. “What made me think of it a while ago was that it felt like it was a Christmas Day shirt for the Bulls, the team logo was in the center of the shirt and I liked that. So I was like, ‘The Blazers have never done this before, we should give it a try.’ That’s where it comes from.”
The new “Statement” uniform, which draws inspiration from “players’ team spirit while representing their competitiveness, fearlessness, and drive”, also features a number of key diversions from the previous iteration.
The number on the front, which is white outlined in black, is placed below and to the left of the reel. There is no black sash on the front, a common design element of Portland jerseys, while the side panels of the jersey and shorts feature reel hatching, which “represents the 5-on-5 symbolism taken from the logo. of the reel and the theme of teamwork”.
The “ripcity” wordmark on the waistband of the shorts is a carryover from the last “Statement” jersey, but pretty much everything else besides the color is a diversion from previous editions. For Lillard, it was a key focus, and a fitting move as the team enters the 2022-23 season with a revamped roster.
“I just like it to be different,” Lillard said. “For me, that’s what I like best: it looks different. There’s something new in there, and I like it. I wanted to stay true to our look but wanted to give it a different twist. I felt like it was pretty well executed.
While Lillard is often consulted by the team regarding his thoughts on various initiatives, his involvement in the design of the new “Statement” jersey was one of his most extensive projects with the Trail Blazers. And given the standard quantity and quality of Lillard’s suggestions and his loyalty to the organization, it makes sense that the team would seek his advice whenever possible.
“I think they know I never want to impose myself, like I’m in charge of everything and I should be part of everything, but I’m careful,” Lillard said. “I have ideas and that’s pretty much what it’s all about. A lot of these things, I’m like, ‘How come we don’t do this? How come we don’t do that? I’m just asking the question, letting them know I have an idea or thoughts about it. They chose to let me participate.
And in addition to being a Trail Blazer, Lillard is an Oregonian. Like many Oregonians, he came to the Pacific Northwest after growing up in California, but has since made the state his full-time home. And during that time, he developed an understanding of the community he and his family live in, an experience that helped guide design decisions for the new “Statement” jersey.
“I’ve been here 11 years, learned a lot about Oregon and Portland,” Lillard said. “It’s like you see different things that the community is connected to, things that matter. I always want to incorporate that stuff into our uniforms. It’s always on my mind.