Basketball Uniforms

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Basketball uniforms have undergone a revolution since the days of James Naismith, basketball's inventor. In the early days, basketball uniforms were made from materials such as wool and were usually long-sleeve affairs--not exactly conducive for easy movement. Of course, the game in the late 19th century bore little resemblance to the high-flying trapeze act it is today, so comfort was less important.

Even after basketball made the transition to shorts and short-sleeve shirts, it did so cautiously. If heavy fabrics were an impediment, tight-fitting cotton such as that worn by '50s- and '60s-era basketball stars wasn't much better. Shorts were cuffed at about mid-thigh, while jerseys were tight in the chest and just generally restrictive. This trend continued throughout the '70s and even into the '80s!

Basketball Uniforms Redefined

As he did with so many other dimensions of the game, Michael Jordan helped--at least in part--revolutionize basketball uniforms once again. While he certainly had no hand in the design and logos used by NBA franchises, he did opt to wear his clothing with distinction, even when this meant challenging league dress code. The trend was widely adopted across college campuses as well, especially with teams such as the Michigan Wolverines, who became just as famous for their flapping garments as they did their flapping tongues.

Since the early '90s, NBA fashion has metastasized and continued to infect colleges as well as high schools and even junior leagues. At each of these levels, coaches and referees can be heard urging players to pull up their pants or tuck in their shirts, even if these admonitions fall on deaf ears. The NBA has made a practice of marketing and exporting its style in every part of the game, so it's no wonder that youngsters have eagerly adopted the same practices as their heroes.


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