On June 9, 2016, we here at THE GLOBAL PHENOMENON penned an impassioned plea to the powers that be at Georgetown to put (visible) kente on the court at the then Verizon Center and now Capital One Arena. That post was in response to a Court Design Contest that the school held to pic a new design for Georgetown’s home court.
That contest brought a number of excellent court designs to the table for Georgetown to pick from, some posted below:
The designer of the above entries was then contacted by a member of the Georgetown athletics community that shall be nameless, who really liked the kente lane and asked whether he could tinker with the above designs (e.g., lighten the key and alter baseline and Big East logo colors) to ultimately produce an entry that the Athletics Department would roll with.
Lo and behold, on June 9, 2015, the winner was announced and we ended up with this selection:
Though the reaction to the above was met by a rather “meh” response by the fanbase especially in the face of all of other out of the box options, it did incorporate the one thing that most Hoyas fans really wanted to see on the court: the kente cloth pattern in the paint.
For those unaware, the kente cloth pattern became part of the Hoyas uniforms in the Allen Iverson era and remains unique and, for lack of a better word, awesome. From this article on the backstory between Georgetown and the kente cloth pattern:
”In the basketball swag world, we felt as though we had the best jerseys in the NCAA,” said former Hoyas forward Jerome Williams over the phone from Las Vegas, where he runs the JYD Project and works as the Director of Player Development for Findlay Prep’s basketball team. “It meant something to wear that Georgetown jersey.”
Williams and his teammates – among them Iverson, Othella Harrington and Jahidi White – came to Georgetown to carry on the legacy laid out before them by the likes of Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Dikemo Mutombo. Maintaining a winning tradition was one aspect of that. But they also put a twist on that with their on-court style.
”We were the first team to rock the Jordan patent leathers and we had these new uniforms,” Williams said. “It was our own identity. It was about the Georgetown brand and what it represented … We definitely had a serious swag about us.”
The patterned fabric made of interwoven cloth strips was originally worn by West African royalty as a sign of wealth and authority, kente cloth came to represent West African strip cloth in general.
When Thompson had Nike add a kente cloth-like pattern to the Hoyas’ uniforms prior to the 1994-1995 season (Williams’ first at Georgetown), it was an overt acknowledgement of who they were: black America’s favorite college basketball team.
”We tried to treat it [the pattern] to be fashionable as well as derivative and be careful of the idea of meanings behind it,” then-Nike designer Ken Black told The Washington Times in 1994. The Hoyas also donned warm-ups with a black-and-white kente pattern all over it.”
A now relatively excited fanbase awaited the big reveal of Georgetown’s new court at the first home game that season against Radford (WHICH WE LOST BY THE WAY). However, the court, at least to a casual viewer watching at home, looked like the exact same one from last season but with the word “Georgetown” on the baselines now in a wood color.
Check it out:
Proof of the kente on the court! pic.twitter.com/7H4G59QvHP— Chris Grosse (@Chris_Grosse) November 28, 2015
A downtrodden fanbase was then left to suffer with the existent but really non-existent kente in the lane, but then the following season a change as made and we had more visible kente in the area by the scorer’s table and coaching boxes.
Kente looks super awesome on the court today pic.twitter.com/lxVLhhnKt7— Bobby Bancroft (@BobbyBancroft) November 12, 2016
This was a welcome addition, of course, but it was still a tad difficult to discern on television.
But now, Hoyas fans, our long nightmare is over and we have what we’ve been waiting for!
Behold, our new kente!
So, after three years we finally got it right.
And the lesson, as always, is sometimes the best things in life are worth waiting for.