Basketball Short History

Basketball shorts started out short, but got longer and longer. Not to mention baggier. And according to the basketball shorts fashion forecast, that's not likely to change.

Shorts weren't always long and baggy. The 1980s legend Michael Jordan is credited for adding inches to the hemline. So the story goes, while playing with the Chicago Bulls he requested that the team's manufacturer, Champion, drop the seam because he had a habit of tugging on his shorts while playing defense. And it wasn't long before other basketball greats began to catch on to a new trend; long, baggy basketball shorts. Today, the look is enjoyed by just about all basketball teams, from the least to greatest.

Manufacturers have witnessed tremendous growth in shorts since the 1970s, when basketball "shorts" were just that. Short. Change is usually inspired by a legend, and basketball shorts saw no exception. And that didn't take long for megastar Jordan to inspire other teams to take down their seams, so by the mid-1980s others had caught on, such as star player Chris Lofton sporting knee-length baggy shorts such as the ones we see today.

Inseams from the 1960s to the present day went from three inches to a dramatic eleven inches, and today it isn't unusual for shorts to hang four inches or lower below the knee. The leg opening has widened as well, growing from twelve to fifteen inches across. Critics say the trends seem to be more about fashion than it is about function. Baggy and long is the look.

Before the 1990s, college basketball players were pulling their shorts down around their hips to lengthen them. Problem was, the jerseys wouldn't stay tucked in, so college students at the University of Michigan began to order shorts two to four inches longer. Players loved them, and the University of Michigan basketball team ordered all the shorts longer. Some were so long, down to about mid-shin that they had to be shortened. But a new trend was center line and other college teams began to run with it. Oversized shorts were a swoosh in the world of buckets. It's thought that the idea was inspired by the University of Arkansas Razorbacks televised basketball games, but few doubt that the Wolverines popularized the style in the early 1990s.

Prior to star University of Michigan players Jalen Rose and Chris Webber, among other greats such as Ernie Grunfeld and Bernard King in the 1970s, preferring the feel and look of relaxed extra-large shorts, tight short-shorts were the style, equated with players such as Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics and John Stockton of the Utah Jazz.

Slim chance that basketball shorts will revert back to the slim look. It appears as if short basketball shorts are out for good. But we'll see where the pros take us next.

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