by Rick Telander / @ricktelander
Gather ’round, you tykes who’ve never heard of tight, short shorts. That means all you who came of age, around, mmm…after Michael Jordan joined the League.
There was a time when short and tight shorts ruled basketball. Magic Johnson wore them. Yes, he did. What’s that you say? Magic played ball? See that’s what I was—am—worried about. Youngsters with no reference point beyond the TV or smart phone in front of them. Yes, there was a time when players didn’t wear their mama’s dresses for trunks. Or their daddy’s painting shirts for jerseys.
Michael had a trainer add a couple inches to his Bulls trunks early on—to be different, of course—and off we went. In no time reasonable basketball garb had changed to guys playing a game called, “He With The Biggest Parachute Wins.” The Fab Five at Michigan got large gear in 1991, then it all grew and grew until the Magic’s Glen Davis dropped his gigantic NBA shorts against the Spurs last year to show his, I don’t know, anger? Trust me: Big Baby wouldn’t have done that in shorties.
That’s what ballers used to wear. Along with tight jerseys. And it was good. I wore tight baller stuff in high school. But you don’t care about me. Listen to Hall-of-Famer Clyde Drexler: “I loved the short shorts. We could actually run and do stuff in them. We didn’t have to pull them down and back up all the time. I never had a problem with my shorts.”
Why would he? Nobody did, from Cousy to Robertson to Jabbar to that guy called Bird. God wants your clothes to fit. A couple years ago, I saw a Chicago high school kid lose the ball up his trunks leg. The ball. Ohio State got tighter jerseys a few seasons ago, but they kept their curtains-for-trunks. It’s insane. People grab your massive, billowing pantaloons. Why wear something that makes the game harder?
Tighty-whiteys and their basketball ilk never impeded anybody. They came in satin and acetate, they came with belts, they came a foot above your knee. They were hip. Functional. Sexy. They came with accessories like tube socks and knee pads. They’ll be back. Oh, yes they will, children. Hush up! It’s all just style. If I were you, I’d start cutting off the bottom third of my baggies right now.
And when they’re back, those short tight shorts will demand the re-introduction of the once-mighty jockstrap. But that’s for another session.