The Evolution of Baggy Basketball Shorts

NBA fashion

Of all professional sports, basketball is probably the most ingrained in popular culture and the world of fashion. Whether it’s Drake popularizing Toronto Raptors gear or Bulls attire garnering worldwide appeal, fashion and basketball always seem to be interacting.

Over the years, on-court fashion has come a long way. It wasn’t all that long ago that our favorite players were running the court in shorts better suited for cheerleaders than extremely tall men. Take a look at how basketball shorts went from having minuscule inseams to falling below the knees. We present to you the evolution of baggy basketball shorts. Enjoy.

Jordan’s UNC shorts

Any student of the game knows the legend of Michael Jordan’s college shorts. MJ entered the NBA in the mid-1980s. After playing in a regulation uniform for a couple of years, His Airness realized he had a slight wardrobe malfunction on his hands. Jordan wore his University of North Carolina game shorts underneath his Bulls uniform each contest, and it was difficult to fit both pairs on at the same time. He requested that Champion, which then held the contract for NBA uniforms, make his shorts longer and wider. Little did he know he had just set the fashion world on fire.

Scottie to Stockton

At first, nobody seemed to take note of Jordan’s change in uniform as a hot trend. MJ was known for grabbing his shorts when he got tired, so the change in tailoring seemed appropriate. By the end of the 1989 season, though, Scottie Pippen was also wearing his shorts below the knees. As Jordan’s popularity grew, he appeared in more commercials for Nike while wearing his new baggy shorts. By the time the 1990 season began, every team in the NBA had a few players wearing baggy shorts. Notably, Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton was the last professional player to hold out with his short shorts — a personal preference.

The Fab Five

The NCAA played a role in this fashion transformation, too. The face of college basketball changed forever when the University of Michigan started five freshmen, known as the Fab Five, in 1991. College players everywhere were still wearing short shorts, but the Fab Five asked their coach for long shorts so they could be “like Mike.” Armed with confrontational attitudes, black high socks and baggy shorts, the Fab Five pioneered a new wave of fashion in college and pro basketball that persists today.