On Thursday, the WNBA unveiled special anniversary jerseys for all their teams to celebrate the league’s twenty-fifth anniversary and one such jersey was a slam dunk for Stranger Things fans. The Indiana Fever, out of Indianapolis, boasted a Stranger Things-themed Nike Rebel edition of their jersey, setting the internet ablaze.
It’s been two years since Stranger Things dropped its third season on Netflix and the fourth season has been shooting at a slow pace due to COVID-19, making many fans desperate for new content from the Upside Down. The WNBA has likewise experienced delays in their season due to the virus, making Thursdays uniform-unveiling an unexpected moment of excitement between Stranger Things and women’s basketball fans.
Not only does the Fever’s jersey feature the Stranger Things font, but that logo rests atop a “red and black background inspired by the alternate dimension at the heart of the show” (People). “The Rebel takes the Upside Down and puts it onto a jersey,” the Indiana Fever’s website confirms “the darker tone and jersey details embody the power of a mage ready for combat.” Other details of the jersey include an upside down Fever logo on the shorts and a small demogorgon graphic.
📍 Hawkins, Indiana
— espnW (@espnW) April 8, 2021
While Stranger Things’ Hawkins, Indiana is a fictional town, the suburb is meant to exist just outside of the Fever’s Indianapolis home. Nerdist even reminds fans that minor characters in the series, such as Lonnie Byers, live in Indianapolis, giving the city some peripheral prominence in the show. While many professional sports jerseys make reference to certain aspect of a city’s history, the Indiana Fever’s Rebel jersey marks one of the first occasions in which a team embraced a pop culture property set in their region in such a major way.
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If the response from Stranger Things fans online is any indication, the Indiana Fever have rolled a critical hit with their new uniforms. The show’s official Twitter account even responded to the team saying: “catch me fighting demos in this,” referring to the army of supernatural creators, from demogorgon to demodog, that the series’ protagonists find themselves facing down.
oh y’all really going to the Upside Down 🙃🔥 https://t.co/AYjdlzngw3
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) April 8, 2021
Indiana’s NBA counter, the Indian Pacers, also chimed in on Twitter to praise the Stranger Things Rebel Jerseys. Nerdist posits that “the Indiana Fevers’ Rebel jersey sales will go through the roof,” meaning the Pacers and other franchises may be enticed adopt similar pop-culture tie-ins in the future.
The impending sales boom from Stranger Things fans is particularly good news for Chanelle Molina, a WNBA prospect currently attending the Fever’s camp, via Fever. Molina, positioned to become the first Filipino player in WNBA history, rocks a number eleven jersey, which will likely be the most popular jersey among fans due to Millie Bobby Brown’s (Stranger Things, Godzilla vs. Kong) super-powered protagonist.
A Quiet Power. | #WNBARebelEdition
Netflix’s original series, Stranger Things, powers the Indiana Fever’s Nike Rebel Edition. The uniforms are inspired by key elements of the show and transport players and fans alike to the upside down. pic.twitter.com/8UjG1TwAaq
— WNBA (@WNBA) April 8, 2021
While the Stranger Things Rebel jersey in an overt and intentional reference, Nerdist speculates that one of the LA Sparks new jersey’s also bares resemblance to a popular television series. Though not confirmed, like the Fever’s Stranger Things jerseys, Nerdist believes that the black and yellow scheme on one of the Spark’s jerseys may be a reference to the fictional Bel-Air Academy from the iconic 90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
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Much like Eleven opened a riff into the Upside Down that changed the landscape of Hawkins forever, it’s a distinct possibility that the Indiana Fever just opened the door for pop culture reference to play a larger role in the merchandising and uniforms of professional sports teams in the future.