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Brand Jordan, Under Armour, select Nike, autographed memorabilia, select jerseys, on sale items and certain brands or merchandise may be excluded. Already a print edition subscriber, but don’t have a login? For a quarter century basketball shorts have run long and loose. A link has been sent to your friend’s email address. A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. The short shorts look that was a staple of basketball for some many years is back in style. The Fab Five popularized long, baggy shorts in college basketball in the early 1990s.
Wilson favors an alternative look and length, one he thinks is going to gain popularity. As the style editor for GQ, Mark Anthony monitors and sees trends in fashion long before they hit store racks or shelves. Sometimes, however, he sees the next season’s styles not on a runway but on the hardwood. And the models aren’t models at all, but rather the players on the seventh-grade basketball team he coaches. There’s definitely a few that have their pants hiked all the way to their bird chests. This season in college basketball, a growing number of men’s and women’s players are employing more nuanced, subtle techniques for achieving a slimmer, shorter look to their shorts, which for a quarter century have run long and loose.
Wilson plays forward for a program, Michigan, that is widely credited with the proliferation of baggy, billowing basketball shorts since the early 1990s, when the Fab Five favored long trunks and short black socks. Like those players, Wilson’s street fashion sense drives his court couture. Except where the Fab Five went for more cloth, the 6-10 Wilson goes for much less. He says he dresses the same in Ann Arbor as he did in high school in Sacramento, which means he wears short and slim shorts whether he’s in the gym or on the quad. When Michigan switched to Jordan Brand uniforms last fall, its basketball equipment manager gathered the team to try on their new togs.
I asked him for a shorter size and then he got it and I tried those on and I thought they were too long again, so I asked for another short size, and then we finally got it. Even then, Wilson rolls over the waistband once to make them even shorter. Other players, such as Connecticut’s all-AAC point guard Jalen Adams, sometimes roll the waistband twice. But like Wilson, starting small is the key for Adams.
You have to get the small size to begin with. Adams, who is 6-3, said he began shortening his uniforms as a youth player because he tended to be one of the smaller players on his teams and uniforms usually came large. He later found a kinship in the anti-long short lobby when he played against Derrick Jones — who placed second in the NBA All-Star Dunk Contest while wearing short shorts — in the 2015 Ball Is Life All-America Game. NBA players such as Jones and Washington Wizards guard Kelly Oubre who favor short shorts do not enjoy the same level of fashion flexibility as their college counterparts.
NBA players can tuck up the bottom of their shorts during practice, as Houston Rockets guard James Harden and Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook did in the run-up to the All-Star Game last month in New Orleans, but not in games. Oubre, who tries to wear men’s size mediums whenever possible despite standing 6-7. You are not worried about a lot of things swinging. The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball rule books each devote four and a half pages to uniform regulations but only one rule — Rule 1, Section 22, Article 10 — deals with how players wear them. That rule prohibits playing with the jersey untucked from the waistband of the shorts. NCAA spokesperson Jackie Hobson said via email. The length has always been determined by the trends and style choices of a particular era.