The history of basketball in the United States is a short but interesting one. The sport was invented in the late 1890s in Massachusetts — but what did players wear? How different were they from today’s basketball uniforms?
In the beginning (1891 — 1920)
When basketball was invented, there was no set basketball uniform for players or teams. The sport was only practiced as a hobby, never in competitions. So, people wore to the matches what they wore on their day-to-day life. More often than not, this was wool undershirts and baggy trousers. Probably not the most comfortable combination…
Team-coordinated uniforms (1920 — 1940)
It wasn’t until basketball made its ways to universities that team-coordinated basketball uniforms appeared. Team uniforms were invented so that players didn’t accidentally pass the ball to the rival team — which wasn’t uncommon until then.
If you attended a basketball match between 1920 and 1940, you’d see mid-length shorts and wool basketball jerseys. An interesting fact was that basketball jerseys were fastened so they wouldn’t come out of the shirts during the game. This was the decade when Spalding rose to fame as a go-to basketball uniform designer.
Comfortable, synthetic Basketball uniforms (1940 — 1960)
With the invention of synthetic fabrics, basketball uniforms underwent a massive revolution. The hot and uncomfortable wool jerseys gave way to comfortable synthetic jerseys.
During these decades, nylon and polyester became the material most used in basketball uniforms. Shorts also became shorter, eventually looking like briefs in the mid-1960s. The jerseys didn’t have buttons anymore and they resembled the ones used in track.
This period also saw belts being used to keep shorts in place. After 1960, however, elastic bands were sewn in the shorts, which meant that belts disappeared.
Form-hugging colorful uniforms (1960 — 1988)
Basketball Uniforms that hugged the body were the most popular from 1960 to 1988. The goal was to showcase the players’ athletic physique and to make teams stand out even more.
If you went to a game back then, you wouldn’t see any drowned-out colors on the court. Every team tried to outdo itself to come up with even brighter and eye-catching uniforms.
These decades were also the ones that saw the rise of striped long tube socks and headbands. They also saw an important change in uniform composition: the blend used then was a cotton/polyester one.
The Jordan revolution (1988 — today)
Michael Jordan made uniform providers for the NBA to change their uniforms. He wanted longer shorts he could hold and bent over on the court — and that’s just what they got!
Today, we owe our basketball uniforms to Jordan’s request. Since 1988, there have been barely any uniform changes done. That is, except the Warrior’s long-sleeved jerseys. Will uniforms be revolutionized again soon?
In the end, dont forget to check our exclusive Sublimated Basketball Uniforms Collection.