How basketball uniforms have changed over the years

Have you ever looked at a basketball uniform and wondered how the style became what it is today? Or maybe you remember the old designs and just want to reminisce? Either way, read on because we are going to take a look at the evolution of the basketball uniform. From its early developmental days as a gymnasium sport to its current style inside the arenas of today. The general scheme has been the same, though alterations have lead to more fabric in some places with other regions losing coverage. This article will act as a compendium and guide to the biggest changes and trends in basketball uniforms through out the years the game has been played.

The Early Days of Sport

Who wants to run up and down a basketball court wearing a uniform that has grown sweaty from activity and is restrictive by the tailors orders, raise your hands? If you played basketball back in the late 1800’s around the turn of the century this is pretty close to the deal. Wool jerseys, trousers. Get in there,buddy. It is likely the sport would be far less popular in warm weather areas if things had continued this way for long, though it might have been a real contender for hockey’s supremacy in the cold weather countries.
A little later on things began to loosen up some. The introduction of shorts had to be a welcome presence in players locker rooms, though some still made due with pants. There are a few existing photos of teams posing in turtlenecks, if not playing in them, around the early 20th century.

Formative Years: A Proper Style Emerges

As basketball emerged from obscurity to popularity the rules and uniforms that players wore began to standardize. Organizations became more formal and regulated what was acceptable for those in the leagues to wear while playing. Savvy companies began to pluck talent from teams to endorse their products. One such product is still on the shelves today. The “Chuck Taylor” Converse All-star has been going strong since 1917 when he was on the team demonstrating the new sport around the country. These shoes have transcended the sport and have a sense of style to themselves. Wearers make a fashion statement just by wearing the shoes and being associated with the brand.
Short pants became the norm in this period. No more covering up. It seems during the 1920’s people wanted to get hot and bothered offthe court. Can’t blame them, booze was illegal in that era due to prohibition. Through it all basketball was spreading. Leagues at all levels were sprouting across America. The NCAA organized its first national championship in 1938 and the NBA formed in 1946. Sleeveless jerseys and thigh high shorts became the norm.

Post-War Era: New Materials at Play

Technology that had been utilized for the war effort in the 1940’s soon found its way into other industrial purposes. Facilities that had been producing materials out of fabrics made of nylon or polyester began to convert their operations to peace time goods as the Baby Boomer population was exploding.
The nature of the game truly requires not only material that breathes but also ones that allow a full range of motion for the players. Uniforms began to get tighter and more form fitting reaching points that seem almost exhibitionist, should a person be at the wrong angle. Woe was the floor based photographer in this time period. Right on through the 1970’s and into 80’s shortshorts kept creeping up the the players legs.

Reversal: Extending Uniform Coverage

The Michigan Wolverines players in the early 90’s known as the Fab Five, a group comprised of Jimmy King, Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Ray Jackson and Juwan Howard popularized the style of wearing baggy shorts and black socks. The squad ended the season as the Runner Up in the NCAA Tournament in 1992 and 1993, pretty good run though the successes were later vacated by the Ed Martin scandal. In the NBA, baggy shorts began to catch on as well. Michael Jordan was one of the first at the level to mimic the style. This was a rungs lower than previous generations, as player’s gym shorts got longer and covered more of their thigh. These are the major trends you have seen since the 1990’s, more accessories, longer shorts, shorter socks.
Before long nearly everyone was wearing the baggy style and knees were seen no more. Things may have gone too far or perhaps David Stern and the league office just wanted to collect fines. They levied fines against a players like Jameer Nelson and Jamal Tinsley for the excessive length of their in game shorts during the the 2005 season.

The style of basketball uniforms has changed so much over the years, and new trends will continue to evolve. Today, at Starting 5, we're at the forefront of uniform development constantly looking for new materials to maximise performance.
Thats why you've come to the right place when it comes to finding fit for purpose basketball apparel and fit for purpose prices.


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