A Brief History of Basketball Shorts

Celebrating the ideas, art, culture and style around vintage sportswear

Let’s talk about basketball shorts.

From the 1940s to the ’60s, the inseams of basketball shorts were at a frankly-aggressive three inches.

Wilt Chamberlain at Kansas in 1957. Shit mad smedium.

Lengths creeped down over the years until they reached five inches in the mid- ’80s.

Thankfully, things started to get a little looser.

Thanks to a popular guard by the name of Michael Jordan, a trend started where players started wearing longer basketball shorts, and it caught on in the NBA.

The trend trickled down to the next generation of basketball stars. Culturally, things came to a head in the early 90s, thanks to five kids playing up in Ann Arbor.

It is not up for debate that the Fab Five (Jalen, Chris, Jimmy, Ray, and Juwan), popularized the baggy shorts to kids like us, all thanks to MJ's (and hip-hop, let’s be serious here) influence.

Fun Fact: Former Utah Jazz point guard-turned-kook John Stockton has the distinction being the last professional player to hold on to the smedium look, wearing ‘em high and tight until he retired in 2003.

By the 2000s, it had become standard for basketball shorts to have an inseam length of 11 inches, which made them drop four inches or more below the knee.

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