The ongoing evolution of NBA uniforms: the short shorts club

Cover Image for The ongoing evolution of NBA uniforms: the short shorts club
Laura Wiebe
Laura Wiebe

Feature photo credit: Winslow Townson/AP,

It's more than a week since the Toronto Raptors were swept out of the 2018 NBA playoffs, but things are still a little raw. Even more so after Coach Casey's firing last week. So, as I continue to process the season, my feelings and my fandom, here is a lighter-hearted post on NBA style – on the basketball court.

As I've mentioned before, my NBA fandom is relatively new. When I first began watching I was too focused on understanding the game to pay much attention to the uniforms, beyond getting a sense of team colours. Sure, I'd known NBA uniforms have changed over time. I'd seen old clips of players with miles-long legs extending below their very short basketball shorts. But I had only a vague idea of old and new, then and now, without paying much attention to the in-between.

Then I saw – really saw, I mean – the over-sized baggy uniforms of late 1990s-early 2000s.

The first time I truly noticed NBA uniform cut and fit (i.e., baggy versus fitted) was during the screening of The Carter Effect documentary. And maybe since then I've been a bit more attentive. So even before I heard anyone in NBA media comment on one of the latest uniform trends, I had noticed it myself: players wearing shorter, tighter shorts.

As a Raptors fan, my introduction to short-shorts was primarily through this year's rookie, OG Anunoby. His shorts over tights, combined with his running style, made me think comic-book-super-hero more than NBA player. I'm not judging here. I don't like or dislike the look. It just caught my eye. And encouraged me to call the rook OG Supernoby.

Throughout the season I began noticing players with short-shorts on other teams, and I noticed other people noticing. And I started to draft an alternative fantasy NBA team: the short shorts squad, the hot pants club... If I came up with a good name for this group I've forgotten it. But what became obvious pretty quickly was that it's mostly (but not exclusively) younger players who lean toward shorter, tighter shorts. A new generation with their own sense of style?

  • OG Anunoby, #3 Toronto Raptors
  • John Collins, #20 Atlanta Hawks
  • Kent Bazemore, #24 Atlanta Hawks
  • Dejounte Murray, #5 San Antonio Spurs
  • Terrance Ferguson, #23 Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Kyle O'Quinn, #9 New York Knicks
  • Brandon Ingram, #14 Los Angeles Lakers
  • Jaylen Brown, #7 Boston Celtics
  • Jabari Parker, #12 Milwaukee Bucks
  • Kelly Oubre Jr., #12 Washington Wizards
  • Robert Covington, #33 Philadelphia 76ers
  • Ben Simmons, #25 Philadelphia 76ers
  • Joel Embiid, #21 Philadelphia 76ers

Did I miss anyone? If I did, let me know.

I think there might be something similar going on in women's basketball, but I haven't done enough research yet to know for sure. If you have, I'd love to hear!