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Basketball Players Show Less and Less Skin

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The guy shown above is Nick Emery, a freshman guard who plays for BYU. As you can see, he goes with a long-sleeve base-layer shirt under his jersey, which he wears due to circulatory issues in his arms.

Emery isn’t alone. The long-sleeved look, which dates back at least to Oklahoma guard Tony Crocker around 2009, is spreading — and not just in the men’s game. Check out this shot from a recent Auburn/Alabama women’s game:

The legality of these long-sleeved shirts seems to be somewhat nebulous. Some players have apparently been told not to wear them:

The trend isn’t limited to the NCAA. I’m told that the long-sleeved look is increasingly common at the high school level. And in the NBA, Chris Paul has gone long-sleeved, and Kobe Bryant did likewise for at least one game this season, back in November:

The Bryant example is particularly interesting, because he was also one of the first NBA players to wear long tights. That was about 10 years ago (I wrote an ESPN column about it at the time). Back then the tights looked weird, but now it’s common to watch an NBA game and see at least half the players on the court wearing tights. Meanwhile, it’s also common to see players wearing short-sleeved base layers and/or compression sleeves. And of course there are the NBA’s sleeved jerseys.

All of which raises some interesting questions: Is basketball — a sport whose look has traditionally featured a lot of exposed skin — undergoing a slow transformation that will ultimately leave the sport with little if any exposed skin? Will tights become the norm? Will a team begin offering tights with stripes or logos? Could tights replace shorts? What about base layer tops with stripes or logos? Now that we have teams with short-sleeved jerseys, will a team begin offering a long-sleeved jersey option?

This isn’t the first time these types of questions have come up. When Nike introduced its System of Dress in 2007, some of the early promotional images showed players wearing long-sleeved base layers with team-themed stripes and patterns:

To my knowledge, none of those long-sleeved base layers ever made it onto the court. But I liked them at the time, and I still like them now. Much better than the plain base-layer sleeves. Something like that could have a major impact on basketball uniform design.

Where is this all leading? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Discuss.

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Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

We begin this week with one from The Master, Dave Boss. Or, really, more than one, because this guy is selling sets of these Boss-drawn cards, along with NFL patches. The idea is to get the entire thing framed, and the seller also includes a helpful link on how to frame your trading cards — nice!

Now on to the rest of this week’s picks:

• Take a look at the artwork on this 1970s Yankees T-shirt, sponsored by Enkalon (with Built-In Scotchguard!). Looks like Billy, Joe D., Yogi, and Whitey to me.

• You have to hand it to the seller of this 1970s Steelers Stahl-Urban sweater. They’re going all-out with their sales copy: “It even smells good” and “During game time, people will say ‘Where did you get that?'” and my favorite, “You have a better chance of being struck by lightning than finding any more of these in the near future.”

• Initially you might think this Peyton Manning image is a LeRoy Neiman. But if you check the auction out on Etsy, this is a print of an original painting by “Winford, the Elite Artist to the Stars.” He must be elite if he goes by just one name, right? Winford’s Etsy store is here, with a lot more images for sale.

•  The listing for this “Pete’s Back” T-shirt says 1970s, but it should be more like 1984.

• Nice vintage 1970s MLB logos on this looks-like-canvas tote bag. It says “Betty Brown” on it — maybe that was the sponsor?

• Perfect for doing your taxes: this 1980s Philadephia Eagles calculator and case.

• Cliff Engle alert! Here’s a 1980s Astros sweater with an MLB logo on the sleeve that’s hard to miss.

• Wow, take at look at this 1960s St. Louis (baseball) Cardinals bobblehead. A beauty!

• Going back further than that, this 1940s Brooklyn (“Dem Bums”) Dodgers pennant has a lot of vintage charm to it.

• Staying in the 1940s, take a look at the cover art on this set of Sporting News Baseball Guides, including “Mister Shortstop, Martin Marion.”

Follow Brinke on Twitter: @brinkeguthrie

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New sponsor shout-out: As you may have noticed in the right-hand sidebar, we recently gained a new advertiser:, which should be of interest to those of you who work on uniform concepts and/or enter our redesign contests.

The site is the work of Ali Rahmoun and can produce very realistic-looking results. With Peyton Manning’s recent retirement, here’s a graphic Ali prepared with his site’s interface (click to enlarge):

He’s also prepared a video tutorial on how to use his site, although he didn’t use the Broncos’ proprietary number font for this one:

Hope you concept designers out there find this useful. Thanks for your consideration.

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The Ticker
By Mike Chamernik

Baseball News: Nats P Max Scherzer says that the team will not continue its chocolate syrup celebrations. … The Angels and Reds went red-vs.-red yesterday (from Alvin Burk). … The Birmingham Barons will wear cream Jackie Robinson jerseys in April. … Also, the Frisco RoughRiders will wear Ghostbusters jerseys in July and 8-bit video game jerseys in August (from OT Sports). … Texas A&M-Kingsville wears some very dark grey pants, similar to the D-Backs’ new road set (from Daniel Gracia). … The Mariners once again had some players wearing navy and others wearing teal yesterday. Additoinal pics here and here. … Without any context, the Blue Jays St. Patrick’s Day caps look like something else. … Phillies RP Andrew Bailey did a photo shoot while wearing a wedding band on his glove hand (from @ajs0889). … There’s some dispute over whether Pete Rose endorsed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump by giving him a signed baseball.

NFL & College Football News: The ’Skins revealed a glimpse of their new stadium design. The stadium comes with a moat around it, which is absurd. … We’ve seen a hint of this a little while back, but here’s another peek at Tulane’s new powder blue jerseys (from Phil). … The American football team for the UK’s Liverpool John Moores University has some wacky helmets (from @synoptico). … Navy linemen must quickly shed an incredible amount of weight in order to pass the Physical Readiness Test after their final football game. Midshipmen must pass the test to graduate (from Tommy Turner). … Apostrophe catastrophe: New Texans QB Brock Osweiler has a tattoo that reads “Live life to it’s fullest.” … For the first time, an NFL executive has acknowledged a link between football and the brain disease CTE.

Hockey News: The Islanders wore St. Patrick’s Day warm-ups last night. Fans at the game even got a green-clad Anders Lee bobblehead. … The Capitals will wear their own St. Paddy’s Day warm-ups tonight (from Phil), and the Blackhawks will wear theirs tomorrow. … No photos, but during the playoffs, the NHL will install cameras in the boards to help with offsides calls. … A dispute over a Devils cap being worn by a man in a Philadelphia park turned deadly when the man stabbed another man to death (thanks, Phil).

Basketball News: Each NCAA tournament venue will have different paint schemes around the perimeter of the court. … Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D., will wear these “The City”-inspired cream unis next year. Mitchell is home to the Corn Palace; the Warriors used to play in the Cow Palace (from Jason Holzwarth). … A Nike March Madness ad shows NBA stars (and Kelly Olynyk) in their college uniforms. Olynyk didn’t get his own glamour portrait like the others did. … The Heat and Nuggets went red-vs.-blue last night (from @zjl00).

Soccer News: The USL’s new San Antonio FC debuted its uniforms (from Phil). … Here are the uniforms for Japan’s Nadeshiko League, which begins play in two weeks (from @holycalamity). … Spain has a BFBS anthem jacket that’s worn just for the walk-in from the tunnel and for the national anthem.

Grab Bag: USA Today is running a 64-team cross-sport best uniform bracket. First round voting is being held now. No big surprises in the seedings, other than that the Bears are an 11th seed (from Randy Williams). … Roger Federer has a line of emoji shirts (from Phil). … New jersey sponsor for the Jacksonville Cannons of the American Ultimate Disc League. … The Batman logo has evolved over 75 years. … UMBC lacrosse has paw prints inside its numbers. The school’s nickname is the Retrievers (from Griffin Smith). … Luke Brooks, who normally wears No. 7 for Wests Tigers in Australia’s National Rugby League, changed his number to 007 for a James Bond promo last night (from Brent Bollmeier).

Comments (46)

    Kyrie Irving’s time in that Duke uni for that shoot is equal to the amount of time he wore it while playing at Duke

    “Nats P Max Scherzer says that the team will not continue its chocolate syrup celebrations.”

    Good. It’s stupid.

    Now if we can just stop the played out and tired “Gatorade Shower”.

    The Orioles have also discontinued their pie-in-the-face celebrations due to “safety issues.”

    “The listing for this “Pete’s Back” T-shirt says 1970s,…” No bullet.
    “The Capitals will their own St. Paddy’s Day warm-ups”

    I would be interested in hearing some of the reasons for wearing long sleeve shirts. Of course there have been other eras where we have seen a rise in shirts under the uniform both inspired by Georgetown stars. Patrick Ewing in the 80s with his grey cotton T & Allen Iverson with a T-shirt with cut-off sleeves in the 90s.

    This also shows that sleeved shirts can work in basketball, but adidas has failed in their design. I think one way to go is to have a uniform that has sleeved & sleeveless options. Let the players decide. Works in soccer where some players can choose either short or long sleeved designs.

    “Mitchell is home to the Corn Palace; the Warriors used to play in the Cow Palace.”

    LSU used to play in the John M. Parker Agricultural Center, which was dubbed the “Cow Palace” and was home to rodeos. It is currently used for livestock uses and had dirt on the floor when I went there for an event in November. And it was before my lifetime, but my dad, who attended LSU in the late 1960s at the same time as Pete Maravich, said you could smell the animal odor easily during LSU games. He said the ball would sometimes roll off the court and into the dirt.

    For the record, LSU moved into the Assembly Center in 1972, and added Maravich’s name after his death in 1988.

    That “history” of the Batman logo is about the worst such attempt I’ve ever seen. So many errors of fact and chronology. For example, 1940 is an entirely different year than 1939. Who knew, right? But if you’re going to attempt to depict something’s history and evolution, it’s important to get the little things, like which decade something happened in, right. Also, many of the designs shown are credited as appearing many years after they actually did, and two-color versions of the logo are treated as one-color renderings – except for that one almost-never-used version where the second color element is retained. Just a badly done piece.

    It’s as if a history of baseball uniforms claimed that button-up jerseys originated in the mid 1980s and that the Giants have always worn black and orange.

    the man who did the stabbing in Philly was wearing the Devils cap, not the other way around.

    As someone who has been going long sleeved on the court since 2000, I can attest to one thing: It minimizes scratches. For those of you that don’t play, you would be surprised how many cuts and scratches you can pick up, even in a leisurely pick-up game. Long sleeves really help.

    Aside from that, I think people love gear. It is well documented on this site, but people (especially kids) love stuff, especially new stuff. I am no gear head, but looking back, I have worn the following: black socks (Fab 5,) knee high socks (Kerry Kittles,) head bands (Darius Miles?,) a variety of arm bands (including around the calf,) compression shorts and a compression sleeve. Do I regret most of those? Sure. But it was a chance to buy something new and stand out on the court. Now I just try to blend in.

    This is the exact reason why long sleeves in basketball would be beneficial.

    I have a soccer colleague who was one of the original 6 that helped start Nike Soccer back in the 90s. His research really “proves” how much covering up skin is beneficial to athletes in competition and training. The bumps, scraps, burns, scratches, etc. that players incur during those events add up.

    Anything to prevent those additional minor injuries is a benefit. Now, that’s probably not the main reason why people do it. But, as a coach, I don’t discourage the covering up for those reasons.

    I started wearing long sleeves in basketball back in high school (pre-2000), especially when we had early morning practices and it was freezing cold outside and the heat in the gym hadn’t kicked in yet. I usually wore no-sleeve shirts underneath my jersey and then throughout college. But I went back to wearing long sleeves all the time when I play after having my own “Along Came Polly” basketball moment in a Sunday night church game that I was playing in right after college.

    Besides my absolute dread of reliving that moment, it does actually help prevent a lot of the minor cuts/scratches/bruises you would get normally. Plus, I’d rather wear one long sleeve shirt than be that guy that shows up in two arm sleeves, two leg sleeves, a head band, and mouthpiece (No offense to anyone if that is your normal attire!).

    The Mariners played two split-squad game yesterday. It’s their lower minor Leaguers that were playing who weren’t with the big league clubs special spring training only jerseys. Cost savings?

    I wonder what happens if you have religious players who want to wear long sleeves, such as women Muslims.

    Similar i guess to the hajib debate.

    I hope patterns on long sleeve shirts doesn’t become a trend. High School refs will be performing more uniform police duties before games.

    Short sleeves… check.
    Short shorts… check.
    Knee high color banded socks… check.

    It’s just not that difficult people.

    Question: are NBA floors cold? Especially courts with ice underneath? Could this be a warmth thing?

    I’ve never been on the floor at an NBA game. But when I’ve been on the floor for a concert or something at the Saddledome, you’re sitting on the rubber mats they cover the ice with and its not very warm.

    Just a thought.

    When NBA players started wearing tights 10 years ago, some of them did say it was for warmth, and that the courts were colder than you might expect.

    NBA courts in arenas that use hockey are definitely colder. In Denver, the old McNichols arena was colder than Pepsi Center, and I do remember that in the year of the NHL lockout and lost season that arena management let the hockey ice be melted in mid-February. The rest of that year was noticeably warmer for Nuggets games, and the court was placed directly onto the concrete floor of the arena rather than on an insulated layer between ice and court. Pepsi Center’s overall insulation isn’t bad, definitely an upgrade from Big Mac. That building was an icebox during basketball games!

    More ridiculous than the Bears as a 11 seed vs. Cubs shitty alts as a 5 seed? Clemson as a 15 seed.

    Paul, I don’t think the concept of an anthem jacket is isolated to the Spanish team. In fact, every MLS team has one link I think the name “Anthem Jacket” is an Adidas term for the team’s official track jacket. Most teams will wear these out onto the field for the anthem, and then while on the bench.

    What’s notable isn’t the existence of the jacket, but that it’s BFBS.

    Also, anthem jackets (or walkout jackets) are usually separate from bench jackets. They’re usually put on in the tunnel just before the walkout, and then tossed aside almost immediately after handshakes and anthems, for about 5 minutes before a match. Possibly the most superfluous piece of garment in sports.

    That would be awesome.

    Although my favorite would still be the Washington Red Tails, honoring the Tuskeegee Airmen. Helmet would be a direct ripoff from the Iowa Barnstormers. Of course, it might be hard marketing an Army Air Force unit in a market that contains the Naval Academy ….

    Nice thought, but “Red Tails” strikes me as a painful image to bear if you get walloped by a division foe, as in: “Cowboys kick Washington’s Red Tails in DC.”

    “The Capitals will wear their own St. Paddy’s Day warm-ups tonight (from Phil), and the Blackhawks will wear theirs tomorrow.”

    Don’t the Dallas Stars already wear the Blackhawks’ St. Paddy’s Day jerseys as their home uniform?

    Chris Paul in that image is actually wearing a shirt that has one short sleeve (right arm) and one long sleeve (left arm). One his right arm, he has an arm sleeve on, which gives the appearance of a long sleeve shirt. He started wearing that one short one long sleeve shirt around 2013/14 ish and wore it a few times last season, it’s a shirt I’ve seen common amongst football players but never really on basketball players.

    I really hat the damn maple leaf on the Jays BP hat (almost as much as I hate Mr Met on the Mets’ hats). Red and blue, but I think that green is the worst. The only thing good about it was Paul’s comment.

    Oh man, seeing those “system of dress” unis makes me so glad the super-baggy shorts are generally gone from basketball. I don’t remember seeing anything that bad on-court, but Allen Iverson always stands out in my mind as one of the standard-bearers for that style:
    It’s interesting how basketball shorts generally follow fashion trends. Used to be everything was tight & short, until the late ’80s & early ’90s. A decade or so later, you’ve got AI and others. Now men’s fashion has been going back towards shorter, slimmer-fitting shorts and pants, and sure enough the NBA is keeping up. I can’t remember if it was on here or elsewhere, but I remember seeing someone recently compared LeBron’s cut on his shorts from his rookie year to now, and they’re definitely shorter and snugger today.

    I find the basketball tights to be quite comfortable.

    However, a few years back my high school basketball coach blamed a crucial loss on my tights as well as my teammate’s non-school color shoes. That was interesting, to say the least.

    While they may have a practical use, I can’t stand the tights in basketball. The uniform is shorts and a tank top. I have less problem with under sleeves (even long ones) but hate the sleeved jerseys. A giant contradiction I guess.

    I can’t stand all this base layer crap. Can you imagine Jordan, Magic, Kareem, Bird or Erving dressing like these clowns today? Call me a traditionalist, but BB was meant to be played in shorts and tanks.

    I don’t know if anyone grew up with this term but it is one that is probably not accepted in today’s world. When and where I grew up basketball player jerseys were similar to ‘wife beater’. I’m happy to see the NBA and basketball tops are looking a lot less like a wife beater. Hail to sleeves on basketball jerseys.

    I believe I could cheerfully go the rest of my life without a good luck at a basketball player’s exposed underarms ever again. Any uni choice that makes this a possibility is okay by me.

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