San Antonio Spurs fans don’t ask for much. We love our coach, we’re fiercely loyal to our players (unless their Uncle Dennis tries to orchestrate their move to another city), and we cheer on new team members. Even when the team is struggling, we keep the faith. But there’s just one thing that fans young and old have continually demanded for years: the Fiesta jersey. And now, it’s finally here.
On Friday, the Spurs announced that the latest 2020–2021 city edition uniform will feature the beloved tricolor stripe of teal, pink, and orange across a black base with “San Antonio” written in script above it. Fans’ years and years of tweets pleading for the Fiesta jersey to make a comeback are included in a video the team released to promote the alternate uniforms, which will be available starting December 3. (They’ve even been approved by Lonnie Walker’s mom.) “This is more than just a nod to our history as a team,” says Becky Kimbro, vice president of strategic brand engagement at the Spurs. “This is about incorporating our past and our future with a fresh take on something familiar. We always want to remember who we are and where we call home.”
Back in 1989, the mildly tacky and nostalgic tricolor design made its debut as the team’s official logo in what came to be known as the “Fiesta colors,” meant as a reference to the city’s vibrant history. It became iconic over the next decade, and following the Spurs’ first championship in 1999, the design was emblazoned on shirts, baseball caps, and even painted on cars. (That color scheme was on my first piece of fan gear—a plush coyote wearing a Spurs T-shirt.) The logo was later changed back to a gray and black color scheme in 2002, but as the years went on, fans—myself included—started to crave this piece of nineties ephemera, and were vocal about wanting it to come back.
Eventually, the logo evolved from an outdated relic to a coveted retro item. (The Spurs seem to be self-aware about playing into nostalgia, too: on the announcement splash page, David Robinson holds up the 1999 championship trophy while wearing a Fiesta logo windbreaker reading: “Nostalgia Now Included.”) People started making their own versions of the Fiesta jersey, and shops cropped up on Instagram with vintage T-shirts and jackets featuring the Fiesta logo that sold for far more than they would have two decades ago. Even at games, fans who weren’t ready to let go of that teal, pink, and orange jersey sported it proudly in the sea of black, white, and gray.
So in 2017, when the team first revealed that its Nike City Edition jerseys would have a camouflage design—as a nod to San Antonio’s nickname, Military City—many fans were less than enthused. When the team doubled down and revealed another camo design the following year, fans weren’t angry; they were just disappointed. (Okay, maybe some fans were angry.) But this move, which plays off the team’s warm-ups from the 1989–90 to 1996–97 seasons, marks the first time the colors appear on the jerseys.
The past few years haven’t been the Spurs’ strongest. There have been ample changes to the roster, given the Big Three’s respective retirements and a whole lot of new faces on the court. The Spurs have a lot of promise, but they’re also in the process of figuring things out. After years of practically guaranteed trips to the playoffs and five championships, it can be hard to remember that back in 1989, when the Fiesta colors first made their debut, the Spurs had just come off of an abysmal season with a losing record of 21–61. The 1989–90 season was David Robinson’s first year as a Spur, and under his leadership, the team achieved one of the biggest single-season turnarounds in NBA history, going from 20 to 56 wins.
Maybe what the team needs right now is just that: a reminder of what a struggling Spurs franchise was capable of the last time they sported those colors.