If you look it up online, you can still find it: the grainy footage of K-State’s Rolando Blackman backing down an Oregon State player and scoring on a 16-foot jump shot with three seconds to go.
That 50-48 upset of the second ranked Beavers, a team that had one loss on the 1981 season at that point, in the NCAA Tournament at Pauley Pavilion put K-State on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
But, this article is not about the 1981 K-State team, which would be bounced in the Elite Eight by North Carolina, or even Blackman. It is about those uniforms that he is wearing on that cover.
The lavender uniforms seem to get the players and fans excited, and K-State is 2-0 wearing them this season.
“I’ve always been a big fan of these jerseys,” Senior guard Barry Brown said after K-State’s 82-72 victory at Oklahoma State Wednesday night, in which they wore lavender. “People are calling them the ‘lucky lavenders.’”
The lavender tops mixed with dark purple bottoms are a classic two-toned basketball uniform look. Their return fits right into the ’70s/’80s nostalgia wave that is hitting popular culture.
The purple Kobe A.D. Nike shoes and white leggings add a modern twist to the classic look, which was traditionally paired with white Converse and long white socks with a double purple stripe around the top.
The original lavender look was ditched in the year 1982. K-State tried, unsuccessfully, to recapture that magic under Frank Martin, but those uniforms lacked the classic markings and only got the colors right.
There was a time when K-State had a better all-time record and more conference titles than rival Kansas, and both were log jammed at the top of the Big Eight standings. One of the two schools won 26 titles in 33 years from 1946-1978.
Then, after Lon Kruger left in 1990, K-State head coaches Dana Altman, Tom Asbury and Jim Woolridge combined for a .509-win percentage until Bob Huggins was hired in 2006.
The lavender uniforms are, at least symbolically, an attempt to reach back and borrow from that storied history.
“[The uniforms] are good for our alums,” Brown said.
The return of the lavender throwbacks for a second time this season is encouraging for K-State fans who love the throwback look. I am firmly in this group; The throwback game against TCU was one of the most fun memories I’ve ever had of a basketball game.
Maybe, if the Wildcats can look like Kruger’s late ’70s to early ’80s teams, they can play like them too.