I got to thinking the other night while watching the Lakers playing in Orlando ... if their shorts get any longer, they're going to have to start calling them basketball pants. And then I started wondering if short shorts would ever come back for men in sports, or if they've gone the way of the Speedo.
Don't write to me and yell at me for saying this, but don't you think beach volleyball would be less popular if they dressed like basketball players? Just sayin. Men's and Women's both.
So I put up the status update on my Facebook page:
In fashion, things go in cycles. Why not in sports fashion? How long do we have to wait for the short-shorts on NBA players to come back?
Well, the response was swift, and decisive. Women sent me pictures of John Stockton, the last holdout of the short shorts, in the YES category. Men sent me pictures of Chris Cooley (you're going to have to click on the slideshow above to see that one) on the NO side of the short-shorts debate.
Of course men are wearing their shorts longer in real life these days too, but could athletes turn it around if they change what they're wearing?
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Eddie Martinez sent me this email yesterday:
Commenting on sports fashion cycles, I think some things do go in cycles in sports with emulation being a driving force in most trends. In baseball, young ball players have "flat" bills on their caps now when before a "curved" bill was the style. Pant lengths also move up and down. When it boils down to it, superstition will trump any trend. A guy goes in a slump and will try anything to get out of it. He goes 4 for 4 and he'll drop whatever fashion he was wearing for whatever he wore when he came out of the slump.
So then it's no wonder that it had to be a superstar like Michael Jordan who is widely credited for the longer inseam on NBA shorts starting in the '80s.
His IMDB page says he "reinvented some of the traditions and rules in basketball. Started the trend of the long-length shorts. He claims he wore them that length so he could cover up his North Carolina shorts, which he always wore during his pro career. However, his style caught on, and soon mostly everyone wore their shorts at a longer length."
Elsewhere on the Internet, there are claims that Jordan asked for the longer shorts because he liked to have something to grab onto and dry his hands on while bent over talking to coaches and teammates during games. Either way, he asked for 'em, and, star that he was, everyone wanted to be like Mike.
Everyone but John Stockton, apparently. His Wikipedia page talks about it as part of an overall "old school" approach to the game:
Stockton earned the "old school" tag for his physical play (surveys of athletes and fans alike often judged him among the toughest players in the NBA, usually just behind teammate Karl Malone); his uniform "short shorts" (he was the most recent notable NBA player to wear them, preferring the style long after the rest of the league had adopted today's baggier look); his simple dress off the court, which contrasted with many of his NBA contemporaries; and his reserved demeanor.
So, what do you think? In my travels I encountered some of the world's worst uniforms in history, which I share with you in the slideshow above, and I thank you all for your suggestions. The 70's seemed to be particulalry egregious, between the Astros groovy stripes with a giant star, and an ill-advised Chicago uniform that had the players in shorts. (How do you slide in shorts?)
But the short shorts thing has more grey area. Not everyone should wear the Daisy Dukes, especially not on the NBC lot (you know who you are, Doug,) but for most athletes, I think the female fans would make an exception.
(And I think we can all agree, Speedos can stay in the history books.)
Editor's Talking Stock Image: "Look at me, over here to the left of the page. I'm Jimmy King. I'd never wear short-shorts, but my Fab Five teammates and I looked so cool in these black socks -- now everyone's wearing them! I'm going to shoot this basketball now."