For basketball’s outward simplicity — the team that puts the ball in the basket the most wins — basketball is remarkably versatile, both in team strategy and individual technique. Some players have the tendency to quicken the pace, some to slow the game. Some prefer attacking with the offense; other players enjoy locking in on defense.
While all shapes and sizes of pick-up basketball players are welcomed, basketball apparel can be a contentious subject amongst players. Much like how each has their own playing style, each player prefers a certain fashion.
“I feel like you can tell a lot about a person by what they choose to wear when they play basketball,” Zach Garrison, a sophomore at the University of Oregon, said. “Like the guy wearing sweats — you’re usually either really good or really bad if you wear sweatpants playing basketball. People who are wearing more athletic gear tend to take it more seriously. I think everyone has their own choice of what they want to wear.”
Typically, the first piece of a basketball player’s ensemble that’s judged is his or her shoes. But players at the UO Student Recreation Center don’t agree as to which shoes are best.
“I’m wearing the Kyrie 2’s and yeah, I would say they’re my favorite to wear for now,” Jerome Pizzelli, a senior at UO, said. “They’re the only pair I have, so I have to wear them. Before, I had Hyperdunks because those have better support and grip on the court.”
“I really like the KD 8’s, except they broke,” Kilian Gray, a junior at UO, said. “I had two pairs of them, then I broke the first pair, then I got another pair because I liked them so much. Then I broke that pair too, so I’m not sure if I can recommend them — but I liked them a lot when they worked.”
Along with shoes, upper body garments are contested. Seth Murawsky, a freshman at UO, prefers long sleeves, but in a pinch, he will play in a t-shirt and compression sleeve. “I like to be comfortable when I am playing,” he said. “My performance definitely slips [if not wearing the right clothes]. It’s a mental game; it all messes with your head.”
Another debated aspect of the basketball player ensemble is the shorts. Historically, basketball shorts have trended from shorter and tighter to longer and baggier. Watch any film of 1960s basketball games, then watch where players wear their shorts in the early 2000s. Recently that trend has been bucked, as shorts length has regressed back up the thigh.
Andrew Schmidt, a freshman at UO, likes to wear his shorts to the kneecap or slightly above. “I don’t think [very high-cut shorts] would be a detriment,” he said. “But like, no one wants to see your thighs. No one wants to see that.”
The only thing Rec center players reach a consensus on: high top socks.
“I only go with white,” Brett Kemp, a junior at UO, said “White just makes you look cleaner. There’s something about white shoes and white socks that is the best. If I have that option, I would always pick that.”
While all the players that were interviewed accepted most basketball looks, they had to draw the line on some. Jeans, jean shorts, slacks, Vans and running shoes are basic faux pas of court style, but there were some bizarre items, too.
“I saw one guy wearing boxers one time,” Garrison said. “He came [to the Rec] and didn’t bring shorts, so he just went down to his boxers and played. I mean, I’d wear something at least.”
“I’ve seen crop-tops every now and then,” Schmidt said.
“I’ve seen people wear turtlenecks,” Murawsky said. “You don’t need to wear a turtleneck on the basketball court.”
Another red-flag on the court: too many unnecessary accessories like headbands, arm sleeves or necklaces. Most of the players at the Rec feel over two or three such items is excessive. If someone is decked out in gear, they had better be good.
“Any accessories are too many,” said Pizzelli. “It’s freakin’ pick-up basketball. Like, you don’t need shooting sleeves or sweatbands or anything like that. Maybe a headband if you sweat like a pig.”
But regardless of what a player chooses to wear, as long as he or she plays well, their teammates could care less about fashion sense.
“You just have to own whatever you are wearing,” Murawsky said. “You gotta know that you look good and then play. It’s a confidence thing.”