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The History of Basketball Jerseys

Basketball jerseys are some of the most recognizable uniforms in any sport. But basketball uniforms weren’t always the way we think of them today. In fact, the early basketball uniforms were completely different from the sleeveless t-shirts and baggy shorts that modern basketball players wear.

At Game Gear, we manufacture custom basketball jerseys for sports teams of any age and competition level. One aspect of designing uniforms is to have an understanding of how they have evolved over the years in order to understand the current and future styles.

Before you call and place an order for your team, let our sublimation printing experts fill you in on the history of basketball jerseys and how they have changed over the years.

Early Basketball Uniforms

Before basketball became widespread, players would wear whatever they could when competing, even long pants. Obviously, this was uncomfortable and made certain movements difficult which led to basketball uniforms consisting of long sleeved shirts and baggy shorts, much like soccer uniforms.

By the 1940’s, basketball jerseys had become similar to what we see today in that they consisted of shorts and sleeveless shirts. Around this time, wool was also phased out in favor of man-made materials that allowed better movement and breathability.

This is also around the time when basketball jersey numbers became prevalent. These numbers made it easy for viewers to tell players apart, which is common in many other sports as well.   

The shorts worn in this period became much shorter and belts were added so players could tuck in their basketball jerseys. Thigh high basketball shorts were the popular style until 1984, and then one man changed the look of basketball uniforms forever.

Modern Basketball Uniforms

In 1984, arguably the best basketball player to ever play the game entered the NBA: Michael Jordan. Jordan asked for longer basketball shorts that had a more relaxed fit and soon these shorts dominated the basketball scene.

In the early 1990’s, collegiate basketball teams like the Michigan Wolverines began adopting these baggier shorts. This took the nation by storm and influenced more than just basketball jerseys, but popular culture as well. Rappers and hip-hop artists began donning these baggy shorts with equally long jerseys which led to fewer players opting for the shorter style.

For the next decade or so, little change was made to basketball jerseys in either college athletics or professional competition. However, in 2014 the NBA announced plans to add a gold emblem to the back of the neck on their jerseys to signify that a team has won an NBA championship. Around this time, the NBA also began experimenting with short sleeved t-shirt designs to accompany their sleeveless styles.

Change to basketball jerseys is not over either. In 2017, NBA teams will be able to sell small advertisements on their uniforms. This practice has been commonplace in European basketball leagues as well as other sports like soccer.

Contact Game Gear for Custom Uniforms

If you are looking for custom team apparel, including basketball jerseys, for your team, Game Gear is here to help. We manufacture high-quality sublimation printed athletic gear that is sure to give your team the professional look they deserve.

You can contact us here or give us a call at 1-800-592-7195 to order your custom athletic apparel from Game Gear.