When it comes to basketball, outfits are based on aesthetics, not function.
While that rings true for the famous basketball short (and some questionable runway looks in recent years), courtside is the ultimate place to show how you experiment with style, especially your drip.

Throughout the years, basketball shorts and courtside looks have changed and morphed with the times.

But, they have a torrid past wrapped in none other than the origins of hip hop.
Hip hop, as a genre, is pretty new. It was developed in the Bronx in the 1970s as a way for communities to express themselves. It has grown in popularity ever since.

This idea of expressing yourself ties in with what players wear. Baggy drippy shorts and clothing were tied into inner-city kid identity. Their style was based on ill-fitting hand-me-downs. High fashion was blended with streetwear, accessibility, and the ability to explore what you can wear with pride.

One of the defining characteristics of the 1970s is that nothing is considered ridiculous. Wide-brimmed fedoras and fur collars were seen courtside and as players’ streetwear.

This decade saw the bagginess of hip-hop streetwear cross over onto the NBA's Court. Around this time, shorts weren't outrageously long. Still, they were growing, and so was drippy fashion influenced by three key players. Artis Gilmore, who has a great picture of him in a long fur coat; Julius Irving, who introduced
cocaine suits into the courtside runway; and Larry Brown, who wore everything from plaid pants to overalls.

There was no shame when it came to fashion. Just as hip-hop was about expressing yourself, the same truth existed in NBA player circles.

We first have to acknowledge that this was Michael Jordan's decade. He was the one who brought baggy, drippy shorts to the court.

During this time, the NBA's popularity exploded. Hip Hop and basketball took over in the 80s, mainly in America's inner cities courts and playgrounds. So it was only a matter of time before music used basketball. In 1985 Kurtis Blow released his billboard-topping single "Basketball," which added to both
the hip-hop and basketball craze.

Hip-hop always utilized sportswear as a part of their fashion. But, at this time, high fashion also started to become intertwined with the player's looks.

The nineties were a shift in everything. Culture, music, style, and fads all changed. What stayed the same was basketball's ties to hip-hop.

We would be amiss without talking about the Fab Five. The Fab Five was the 1991 University of Michigan men's basketball team recruiting class. Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Austin's Ray Jackson were colossal hip-hop fans and Michael Jordan Fans. Culturally they helped connect hip-hop to basketball. They took Michael Jordan's style and crossed it with hip-hop.
Their love of the genre could also be seen on the court. On one occasion, Webber jumped onto the scorer's table and proceeded to have the whole crowd wave to "Hip Hop Hooray."

Michale Jordan was still a massive influence. His style paid homage to hip-hop and big brands. Loud colors were all the rage, and so were African-styled prints and giant logos.

One style icon that everyone looked up to was the fresh prince of Bel Air. His love of basketball, hip-hop, and being proud of who he was was the blueprint for courtside style everywhere. Bagginess was still a thing, and showing your drip was the name of the game. Power suits were popularized but were worn with as much fabric as possible. The baggier the suit almost showed how
much of a baller you were.

In the 2000s, the courtside style changed drastically, not because of Y2K!
The NBA commissioner David Stern launched an attack against hip hop and what he deemed the "thug" look by enacting a mandated dress code. Stern thought the player's baggy clothes, chains, and hip-hop- influenced looks were the reason for players' bad behavior off the court. So in 2005, he forced players to wear fitted suits off the court.

The style was reset, and suddenly Lebron James and Tyson Chandler were sitting beside Anna Winter,trying to find the best suits to wear courtside.

High-end street attire and athleisure straight from the runway dominate courtside fashion. Though hip-hop still has a place in history, NBA fashion focuses more on consumerism than expressionism.

Suits, shorts, and shirts and getting tighter and shorter. Though the hip-hop influence may be diminishing, you can still see people experimenting with their looks and their drip, but this time through a modern lens.

November 10, 2022 — Jeremiah Oglesby