Posted: Monday December 12, 2005 1:15PM; Updated: Monday December 12, 2005 3:35PM
Indiana Pacers guard Jamaal Tinlsey (right) was one of 13 NBA players fined for the length of their shorts.
Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
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The holidays are here, and the onus is suddenly upon all of us. We have gifts to buy, parties to attend, cards to send out. It's one of the few times of the year where our feelings toward our fellow man (and woman) are almost directly relatable to the quality of what we give.
There's a lot of responsibility going around, and unless we really screw it up, those who are important in our lives know that at the very least, we're thinking about them.
Which brings us to the NBA, where commissioner David Stern has shown the NBA players that he's remembered them this holiday season in an odd way: by fining them tens of thousands of dollars.
Maybe Stern isn't the Grinch, but it appears he wants a league of players in shorts two sizes too small.
Long shorts and basketball go back a long way, and their introduction to the NBA can be traced directly to Michael Jordan, who allegedly asked Champion, then the uniform manufacturer, to make his shorts longer so he could have something to hang on to when he was tired and needed to bend over and grab some fabric. This was impossible with some of those near-Speedos teams wore in the early '80s.
Most people say the look didn't make its way into the mainstream until March 1992, when Michigan's Fab Five came out in long shorts, but those of us who played basketball, we knew before then. Because we all wanted to be like Mike.
In 1990, when I was a junior in high school, the day our coach handed out the varsity basketball uniforms was a day of great promise and intrigue. We wore polyester unis that had been around for a decade, before voluminous inseams were cool, so the shorts were all short. The older players got first dibs, and when my time came in the equipment room, I got stuck with a pair of medium shorts. They were so miniscule that two different times a referee pointed out that my boxers were hanging out. (And though we had red road jerseys and white home jerseys, we only wore red shorts, because that was all we had. Public schools, represent!)
Halfway through the season, our best player was dismissed from the team for academic reasons. Coach called the team together and let us know, saying he'd already collected the player's uniform. A sound in my head went, Ding! Later that day, after we found out that our best player was gone and our season was on the brink, I went to our coach's office and expressed my regret, asked how we would adjust, and, noticing that now-retired uniform on the shelf, asked if I could have those XL shorts. Perhaps not realizing the significance, my coach handed them right over. The rest of the team was furious with me, not because I had shown little respect for the departed, but because they all planned on asking for those shorts, too. Hey, I explained, you snooze, you lose.
These days, long shorts are a given. High school players, like O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker, wear billowy shorts large enough to sneak a golden retriever into the gym. Even in rec leagues, long shorts dominate the domain.
But Stern, it appears, doesn't like it. Fines have started coming down, centering largely on guards and forwards, with some odd exceptions. Look at Jamaal Tinsley's shorts in the photo above. They come down well below his knees, which is why he was fined by the NBA. Standing right next to him, though, is Jameer Nelson, whose shorts are just as long. Tinsley was fined, Nelson wasn't.