Amid All the Joy, a Sag Sight

The other day, I saw a pair of shorts wearing a basketball player. They were the biggest shorts I ever saw. Jim Palmer could have gotten into them twice.

Big shorts. This is, I realize, an oxymoron--like military intelligence or jumbo shrimp.

Nevertheless, with the NBA finals about to start, the time has come to address one of basketball's most pressing issues.

Namely, how much bigger are shorts going to get?

Basketball players no longer wear basketball pants. They wear pantaloons.

I hold Michael Jordan responsible for this, same way I hold Patrick Ewing responsible for undershirts.

Jordan popularized XXXL pants. He started wearing them in Chicago around the same time Refrigerator Perry did, except on Fridge they were snug.

Who wears short shorts? Hardly anybody wears short shorts.

Today's basketball player wears trunks so baggy, they look like knickers. Practically everyone in the NBA now wears these knickers, including most of the 'Bockers.

I can't even call them shorts any more. I call them longs.

Doesn't anybody wear tight little trunks any more? Hey, they never hurt Superman.

Jordan's droopy drawers sag like something Underdog would wear. I keep waiting for Jordan to lose five pounds from perspiration some night, go up for a dunk and suddenly have his pants slide down to his ankles.

Then again, Jordan's trunks already hang down to his ankles.

They make Payne Stewart's plus fours look like bikini briefs. Michael Jordan's trunks could shelter a family of four. You could build condominiums in there.

And he's not the only one. I have seen Kevin Duckworth of the Portland Trail Blazers wearing shorts that . . . well, Desert Storm paratroopers could have strapped them onto their backs and descended into Iraq.

Or did you ever see Stanley Roberts in his Orlando Magic outfit? He looks like Ralph Kramden dressed for golf.

One of the few exceptions is little John Stockton of the Utah Jazz, who still prefers the basketball pants of yesteryear. I am not sure if Stockton prefers the way they fit or if he shops in the boys' department of the Salt Lake City Sears.

Why does Johnny wear Jockeys when everybody else is wearing boxers?

Teammate Karl Malone's trunks, for example, are as roomy as jammies. They ought to have Ninja Turtle decals all over them.

And I don't know what size bloomers Ron Harper and Gary Grant of the Clippers usually wear, but a dollar says they get charged double at the Laundromat.

What I also don't know is:

--Are baggy basketball pants more comfortable or are they simply, you know, cooler?

--Are they cool like in cool, or are they cool like in air-conditioned?

--Do they have pockets? And if so, aren't the NBA players worried about Bill Laimbeer packing switchblades or blackjacks or brass knuckles?

--Are Manute Bol's shorts longer than Michael Jordan's everyday slacks? Are Manute Bol's shorts longer than John Stockton?

--Are the Harlem Globetrotters experimenting with a hide-the-basketball-in-our-pants routine?

--Could baggy shorts become a fashion statement for, say, women figure skaters?

I have no idea where this shorts story will end. This is the first time I have ever done an examination of NBA lingerie.

Among other things, what sort of pants will our Olympic basketball team be wearing? Will somebody have to stock Stockton with suspenders or a belt? Has the big-shorts fad spread to other corners of the world? Does Brazil wear big pants? Does Egypt? How big are Bermuda's shorts?

I've seen London, I've seen France, but how large are England's pants?

Nowadays, you watch a boxer, a basketball player, even a volleyball player, their shorts are so long, Goodyear is thinking of placing advertisements. I keep expecting Andre Agassi to turn up at Wimbledon in something with lace underneath and become the male Gussie Moran.

Back when Sugar Ray Robinson and Rocky Marciano were boxing, their trunks were tapered. By the time Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard came along, styles were longer and baggier. And then came Joe Frazier, whose trunks started up around his chin and dropped down to around his shins.

The referee would warn Smokin' Joe's opponent: "No punches below the waist."

Whereupon the opponent would reply: "Fair enough. Where exactly is Joe's waist?"

The Chicago Bulls and Trail Blazers should be worth watching in the NBA finals, and may the better pants win. That's all I have to say about what shorts they wear or where they wear them. The end.

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