In Sole Shift’s first of many looks at things from our collective basketball and sneaker past, this week we present – The Stockton Shorts.

John Stockton, one of the NBA's top assist men and Hall of Famer, will forever be linked to high hemlines.

John Stockton, one of the NBA’s top assist men and Hall of Famer, will forever be linked to high hemlines.


If you consider yourself a millennial or born in the 90’s, you may not remember this, but before hipsters and trendy entertainers ushered a renaissance for them, basketball shorts were, well… short.

Actually, if you were dribbling a ball, hitting a jumper or trying to cram a jam in traffic, any time before 1990 you likely had a pair of shorts that ended somewhere about an inch below your butt cheek. Not only were they short, they were also pretty snug, almost looking like compression shorts on some dudes.  These trunks would eventually be dubbed Stockton Shorts since Utah Jazz great John Stockton seemed to be the quintessential short short wearer, and hung on to them longer than most cared to.

Over the course of the 80’s, the shorts would eventually begin to extend their length, first with a rookie who wanted a pair long enough to cover the college shorts he wore under his Bulls uniform. Then, the shorts would go even longer and baggier, as basketball entered the 90’s with the coming of four freshmen from Michigan. This would become the standard length into the 2000’s and what you see on courts now.

Today there have been a few players that have been reducing the length of their shorts most notably Kelly Oubre Jr. whose inseam is short enough for you to see a lot of his compression shorts under his uniform. Outside of a few, length has not really deviated much and the Stockton shorts remain a memory of the distant past.

John Stockton we salute you.