Tyler Zeller scored 30 points in last year's special one-time uniforms.
Tyler Zeller scored 30 points in last year's special one-time uniforms.
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Lucas: New Jersey(s)
Release: 02/07/2013

By Adam Lucas

When Carolina takes the floor at Miami Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m., they'll be wearing the one-time-only Nike Hyper Elite Platinum jerseys.

The Tar Heels are usually associated with traditional jerseys--other than the one-year interlocking-NC experiment for the 1999-2000 season, the current Alexander Julian argyle has undergone only minor modifications since it debuted in the 1991-92 season.

But during the Roy Williams era, the Tar Heels have shown a willingness to be flexible with their jersey choices, wearing several one-time-only uniforms over the past decade. They include:

Feb. 16, 2005: Carolina joined with Virginia for a Throwback Night, with both squads wearing jerseys modeled on the respective programs' 1980s style. For the Tar Heels, although the replica wasn't exactly the same--the font and spacing on the front wasn't an exact copy of the style worn by the program in the heart of the Dean Smith era--it was fun to see the familiar Tar Heel foot return to the side of the shorts, if only for one day.

Even some of the peripheral personnel got into the act, as radio analyst Eric Montross wore Chuck Taylor sneakers to call the game.

Outcome: Carolina won, 85-61.

Nov. 29, 2005: Credit to alert reader Steve Bass for pointing this one out. The Tar Heels wore silver-shouldered jerseys against Illinois in the 2005 ACC-Big Ten Challenge game at the Smith Center.

This particular jersey marked the beginning of Nike branding certain college hoops programs as their "Elite" schools, and several other programs wore identical the identical silver-shouldered look in the ACC-Big Ten matchups. The Illini also wore the silver shoulders in this game, meaning both teams were wearing one-time-only shirts.

Outcome: Carolina lost, 68-64.

November 9, 2009: To celebrate the kickoff of the 100 Years of Carolina Basketball celebration, the Tar Heels wore 1957 throwback jerseys in the season opener. The most unique aspect of the jerseys was the red trim, which sparked some controversy among the Tar Heel fan base.

Although the red seemed unusual 50 years later, it had been specifically requested by Tar Heel head coach Frank McGuire in the mid-1950s. The fashion-conscious coach thought the red trim added a bit of flair to Carolina's otherwise staid uniforms.

Players and coaches liked the uniforms; they also wore them in a Dec. 28 win over Rutgers and the NIT opening victory over William & Mary at Carmichael on March 16, 2010.

Outcome: Carolina won, 88-72.

Feb. 24, 2010: Jordan Brand produced special silver jerseys to commemorate the brand's 25th anniversary. Considering that the company was founded based on the exploits of the most famous Tar Heel ever, Carolina was a natural to wear the jerseys, which they did in a home game against Florida State.

Fellow Jordan Brand schools Georgetown and Cal were the other programs that wore the one-time jerseys.

Outcome: Carolina lost, 77-67.

Nov. 11, 2011: The Tar Heels wore camouflage jerseys as part of the Carrier Classic on the USS Carl Vinson against Michigan State. Roy Williams, who called the aircraft carrier game one of the most special moments of his coaching career, specifically requested that the camo jerseys be produced only for the game and not for retail. When the game was over, Carolina and Michigan State players took off the uniforms and gave them to representatives from the Wounded Warriors Project.

"I even asked, 'Don't make up any more of these,' because I wanted it to be really special, and then when we had the idea of giving them [the jerseys] to the Wounded Warriors, we did talk about making one up for every player so they would get one back themselves," Williams said at the time. 

There was another uniform quirk in the Carrier Classic--because it got a little chilly once the sun went down, both Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston wore long sleeves under their camo.

Outcome: Carolina won, 67-55.

Feb. 29, 2012: Two years later, the silver returned, except this time it was "platinum." In the home version of the road jersey that will be worn at Miami, the Tar Heels wore the Nike Hyper Elite Platinum uniforms at the Smith Center against Maryland.

The uniforms drew generally positive reviews from the players, and Tyler Zeller must have liked them--he scored 30 points on his senior day.

Outcome: Carolina won, 88-64.

Adam Lucas is the publisher of Tar Heel Monthly and the author or co-author of seven books on the Tar Heels.

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