Images by Marat Shaya .

Michael Jordan revolutionized basketball from top to bottom. No one flew like Mike before he played the game, and no one dressed like him either.

“It’s sort of why Mike is the epitome of a redefinition of basketball culture and modern civilization,” explains Don C, aka Just Don, a Jordan Brand collaborator and Chicago native.

“When he came in the league, he was bringing the swag of someone that was being influenced by Chicago legends to the basketball court.”

There were other players who wore furs, loud hats and chains first. But that was off the court.

It was Jordan who brought personal expression onto the court. After a couple seasons, it was easy to see how Jordan had changed the way players dressed, but it started with something small. It started with the shorts.

Through the late 1970s, players wore what came with the uniform: a pair of short shorts that stopped at the upper thigh.

You can see how short they were in the NBA logo itself: shorts cut off way above the knee. They were designed this way so that players wouldn’t get tripped up by extra fabric and the shorts would stay out of the way of the ball on crossovers.


But Jordan demanded a baggier fit – and where he went, so went the entire sport. By 1993 the “Fab Five” jumped on the bandwagon and solidified the look, and that was that. Baggy shorts were here to stay.

“Growing up as a kid, we were always into bigger baggy shorts because that’s what we saw our dad wear,” recalls Jeff Jordan. “It wasn’t until a little bit later on in life we realized game shorts were a little bit shorter than what we were used to.”

The reasons Jordan wanted longer shorts were his own, but the reasons it caught on were cultural.

Jordan represented, and continues to represent, mastery of skill and greatness beyond athleticism. And for Don C who grew up in Chicago watching Jordan play for the Bulls, emulating Jordan’s style was one way to elevate himself.

“My skill level wasn’t on the level of Mike, but when I came to hoop I would look fresh,” Don C says.

“People would pick me on their team because they’d be like, ‘Man, look at his outfit.’ You got those Jordans, the shorts, the little swag of the armband or sweatband. Or the knee brace. Or your calf brace. Something. Mike brought all those functional items that I assume he needed on the court. He made them look fashionably fresh.”

Shorts got longer all over the league until 1997, shortly before Jordan’s second retirement, when Commissioner David Stern implemented an often-ignored rule governing the length of shorts (they couldn’t be lower than an inch above the knee). Stern followed up the 1997 rule with a full dress code with requirements for before, during and after games, shortly after Jordan’s ultimate retirement in 2005.

Today, shorts are getting shorter again as street fashion moves to a preference for slimmer fits. It’s a trend players utilize off the court, and it has bled onto the court as players choose uniforms and sizes that fit closer to their bodies and move with them.

The long shorts may have had their heyday in the 1990s and will always be emblematic of that era, but the look remains a part of the zeitgeist thanks in part to Don C’s work at Just Don, where he designs and manufactures luxury athletic shorts with a 1990s silhouette and aesthetic. Bold colors and graphics meet updated details and impeccable construction, blending together on shorts that are as opulent as they’ve ever been.

After bringing his luxury take to three pairs of Jordan 2s over the past three years, applying his process to Jordan Brand shorts is a natural next step.


The Just Don x Jordan collection will be available at the below retailers from 10.14.17.

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