Over the years, Basketball Uniforms have gone through many changes. Shorts have gotten longer, socks have gotten shorter, and old-fashioned cotton has given way to high-tech, high-performance fabrics. But one thing has remained the same: basketball uniforms don't have sleeves.
Until now, that is. In the NBA, the Golden State Warriors wore jerseys with sleeves for a few games in February and March, and more NBA teams are expected to follow suit next season. Meanwhile, three college teams - Baylor, UCLA and Louisville - have unveiled sleeved jerseys for their recent conference tournaments. It's a strange visual, not because there's anything objectively wrong with it, but because it's not what basketball uniforms are "supposed" to look like.
All of this brings up an obvious question: why don't basketball uniforms have sleeves? Mainly because it's not necessary. The game is played indoors and the players will sweat, so why use extra fabric? Think about other men's sports played in indoor gymnasiums: wrestling, volleyball, gymnastics - the clothes of athletes participating in these sports usually don't have sleeves either.
However, there are exceptions. Early professional basketball teams wore jerseys with sleeves in 1941. the 1946-47 Boston Celtics and some college teams did as well. But for the most part, sleeved jerseys were a rare novelty on the basketball court.
So, why are we suddenly seeing sleeves now? It's simple. Retail jersey sales have become a huge source of revenue in sports, and there are plenty of fans who would gladly buy and wear a football or Baseball Jersey, but would think twice about wearing a tank top. By offering basketball jerseys that are essentially glorified T-shirts, teams should see more action at the cash register.
The sleeves also open up a lot of design possibilities. The problem with basketball uniform design has always been that there is so little space available. There are no sleeves, no pants, no headgear, and you are required to put your uniform number on the front and back, which limits your visual options. However, once you add sleeves, you can add stripes, patches, logos - basically everything that appears on the uniforms of other sports.
However, yet ...... It doesn't look like a basketball uniform. Part of the reason for this is that players usually wear sleeved basketball shooting shirts during pre-game warm-ups. So when you see the sleeves, your brain instinctively thinks, "Well, don't take it seriously, it's just warm-up time, not an official game."
But maybe we just need to get used to the idea. After all, basketball shorts used to be short, a look that is now considered ridiculous by most fans. Maybe one day we'll say the same thing about Basketball Singlets.