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YOU HAVE TO PICK ONE: Kentucky’s denim or checkerboard uniforms?

Today’s news that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has signed a multi-year deal with Converse has me flashing back to Kentucky’s days with the iconic brand, specifically, the denim uniforms the Cats wore during the 1996 champions season. The denim unis have long been considered Kentucky’s biggest fashion misstep, but after four seasons of checkerboard, that may be up for debate. So, let’s have one.

If you had to choose one, would you rather Kentucky play in the DENIM uniforms or the CHECKERBOARD uniforms?

A closer look at the candidates:

Denim Home

Denim Away

Checkerboard Home

Checkerboard Away

© Dale Zanine | USATSI

The picks from our esteemed panel:

TYLER: This won’t surprise anyone, but denim all day. You can’t even tell the blue parts are denim on the home uniforms, which Kentucky wears most of the time, and I can just squint when they play in the away ones to make the denim pattern less hideous. There’s no getting around the checkerboard, even in the away versions, which are slightly more subtle. I’ll never not think of Purina Dog Chow when I see the checkerboard unis, which is fitting.

NICK: This is like choosing between a New York strip and filet mignon. Both are excellent uniforms. Few are fans of the checkerboard on the latest uniforms, but most thought they were a cool edition when they acted as a belt buckle on the shorts of the 2009-10 team’s uniforms. I enjoy them quite a bit, just like I enjoy a good cut of New York strip. However, the filet is the bell of the ball, the best uniform ever worn in the history of college basketball, Kentucky’s 1996 denims. Any sort of criticism lobbed their way is blasphemy and I will not stand for it.

DREW: I love the denim uniforms. I own one (Walter McCarty’s #40) and have worn it within the last year because it is a timeless fabric. Were they a little hideous for college basketball? Sure, I’ll give you that. But last I checked they were national champion uniforms and not the trash the Wildcats wear today. Denim is easily the winner. It takes me back to my childhood UK fandom during the 90s. The stupid checkerboard Secretariat tribute is dumb and blatantly copies Tennessee and the basketball team hasn’t been to a Final Four since UK switched.


Your turn:

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's new deal with Converse has us flashing back to Kentucky's Converse denim uniforms from the…

Posted by Kentucky Sports Radio on Wednesday, July 8, 2020


Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

34 Comments for YOU HAVE TO PICK ONE: Kentucky’s denim or checkerboard uniforms?

  1. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
    3:59 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

    Neither. Haha.

    Seriously, I don’t hate the checkerboard, but (and I know this has been said 1000000 times) since the players seem to dislike them for the most part, they should be ditched. The denim: they are kind of repulsive nostalgic like pastel colored with black lapel crush velvet Conway Twitty prom tuxes. And like Tyler said, it’s not very noticeable on the home unis, so I would be okay with them as a throwback once a year, but that’s it. I seem to remember they debuted in an Arkansas game, so maybe just wear them for that game.

    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      4:07 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

      Whether home or road since I think we only play them once, but even if it’s twice, wear it for Arkansas only.

      One more thing about the checkerboards: everyone seems to think the reason Mitch gets mad when it’s mentioned is because he’s afraid of losing the Nike money. Has anyone done any research that shows jersey sales going up, or down, or staying the same, after the checkerboard debuted? Could it be that most fans actually like them, but the ones that hate them are just more vocal? I can’t imagine Mitch would be so obstinate if the sales were lower than where they should be. That just doesn’t make sense. I would think if the sales were low or stagnant, Nike & Mitch would be the first ones to want to change the design. I dunno.

    • ClutchCargo
      4:40 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

      Mitch digs in because 1) that’s what he does when he has the power to say “no” to someone who is trying to talk him out of his decision; and 2) he doesn’t care what the common fan thinks about it.

      If not for 1) above, Cal might have been hired instead of BCG when Tubby left.

    • BowdenQB4ever
      6:32 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

      The checkerboards are part of Mitch’s “rebrand” of UK athletics. Same goes for the hideous new wildcats logo. The fans seem to overwhelmingly hate it, but Mitch has received lots of praise from his peers for his effort there so we’re stuck with it all. I haven’t bought a single piece of checkerboard merch, I really just stick with cross branded Kenneland/Derby UK gear.

    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      7:53 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

      Clutch, if that’s true, it must also mean gear sales are just fine. If not, it just wouldn’t make sense when your #1 job as AD is to make money.

  2. KYJelly
    4:07 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

    Denim, because if nothing else, you will stand out. The checkerboards aren’t so eye-catching that you stand out and are ugly once you do notice them.

  3. satcheluk
    4:11 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

    Checker al the way. The denim was turible. They look like some designer at Nike was high and thought he had a good idea.

  4. bigcat68
    4:13 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

    Checkerboard over denim all day

  5. ClutchCargo
    4:33 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

    I honestly couldn’t care less. But since I have to pick one, I would go with denim, since there is a NCAA Title associated with that one.

  6. Dr. Tom
    4:40 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

    You KSR millennials along with all the rest are going to be the ruination of this country. Of course the checkerboards are the better uniform!! I don’t understand KSR’s constant trashing of the checkerboard uniforms. I believe the fanbase in general prefers the checkerboard style. Please resign to the fact that hey are going to stay so get over it!!

    • ClutchCargo
      4:43 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

      Hi, Mitch!

    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      7:51 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

      lol Clutch.

    • Nickerbocker05
      10:23 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

      Damn dr tom… your a complete douche.

    • Bluebloodtoo
      7:56 am July 9, 2020 Permalink

      You [current 20 something generation] are going to be the ruination of this country. Said by no one else ever, right?

  7. bbn606
    4:41 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

    Both are hideous but since Billy Packer had a conniption over the denim and checkerboard shouts Tennessee, I’m going with denim.

  8. Megan
    5:10 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

    Tyler looks at the checkerboard and sees Purina Dog Chow. Drew similarly sees the Tennessee endzone. Those who know better see Secretariat and don’t think associating Kentucky with a racehorse is stupid or dumb. What is that, the argument of an 8-year-old boy? “It’s not dumb, you are!”

    The blue and white blocks are the iconic silks of Meadow Stable. And Secretariat somehow still owns the Kentucky Derby record. Also the Preakness record. Also the Belmont record. He was the greatest racehorse who ever lived. What better to associate with Kentucky? Coal? Bourbon? Denim? Rock-bottom socioeconomic indicators?

    One of those things is not like the others, and it’s denim. I actually like the denim, but it doesn’t have anything to do with Kentucky. It was a novelty. Just to be different, like the claw marks in 1995. Both one-and-done. And for good reason. The Secretariat silks have been with us for what, 12 years? And for good reason as well.

    The problem is that a little checkerboard goes a long way. I’m with Nick that the design was better when it wasn’t in your face. (That’s what this whole thing is about: Do you hate the checkerboard so much … you would return to the denim?) I prefer a more modest, even sublimated Secretariat over denim. And let’s not overlook the fact that Kentucky’s blue is royal blue, not denim, not indigo, not navy, not Duke. Let’s not even go there. Stay true to your school.

    • wadmalawcat
      5:15 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink


    • BowdenQB4ever
      6:35 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

      Secretariat ran one race ever in the state and he wasn’t even bred here. I love him and love the sport of horse racing, but it has no business on our uniforms.

    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      7:50 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

      You make lots of good points Megan. My only problem with the checkerboards is that the players apparently don’t generally like them. At least that’s what we’re lead to believe by Matt. If it’s true, it affects recruiting.

    • MoreheadCatFan
      3:29 pm July 9, 2020 Permalink

      Megan, as you said, the blue and white blocks are the silks of Meadow Stable. Problem is, that’s in Virginia, not Kentucky. And as BowdenQB4ever noted, Secretariat ran only one race in Kentucky in his entire career. He was the greatest of all time. But he wasn’t a Kentucky horse. And it’s the University of Kentucky Wildcats, not Thoroughbreds, Secretariats, etc. The logic behind the checkerboard design is flimsy, and the design makes UK look like Tennessee imitators.

  9. CrystalBall
    5:13 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink


  10. dcforuk
    5:22 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

    If we “have to” checkerboard in blue away (I did not like blue denim at all) and denim in white home even though the ACC-loving Billy Packer (rest his soul) said the blue in the white denim looked like Carolina blue.

  11. wildcat1515
    5:47 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

    Well since some these idiots want to take away our history we have no choice but to go with the checkerboard look.

  12. Booher
    6:05 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink


  13. chardun20
    6:26 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

    Denim, no doubt.

  14. Ez21
    8:50 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

    Denim. At least we stood out from everyone else in CBB and the checkerboard is copied from Tenn.

  15. Ready4Nine
    9:09 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

    I think I’d like the denim more if they weren’t as loose as MC Hammer’s track suit.

  16. ziplock
    9:50 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

    I like the denim best and we could switch shoe companies while we are at it. The denim’s were Converse but just find a pro American company if possible. Nike is all for “fairness” but I haven’t heard of them making plans to change their suppliers from the high-profit Chinese products that are made with slave labor. Mitch and Cal have no choice but to toe the Party line when receiving millions from them.

  17. east-ky-boy
    9:54 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

    I actually liked the denim lol

  18. east-ky-boy
    9:54 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

    It’s not the denim. It’s what’s in em

  19. Alex90
    11:44 pm July 8, 2020 Permalink

    I don’t mind the checkerboard except we’ve had it for so long now. UK should have something new about every season and the only thing that changes with these are they get tighter each season

  20. bbn606
    6:25 am July 9, 2020 Permalink

    We have no originality as we have went from a darker blue to Duke blue over the years and now have added the Tennessee checkerboard. What’s next, an old English K to honor Louisville I suppose.

  21. Bluebloodtoo
    7:53 am July 9, 2020 Permalink

    Checkerboard every day. Not even close.

  22. wesmorgan1
    6:14 pm July 10, 2020 Permalink

    Let’s just do denim with checkerboard trim.