Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The case for coloured socks

The Lakers with striped socks
Adding sleeves to jerseys is one way to give NBA uniforms more room for creativity. It mightn’t be the best way.

There’s not much to an NBA uniform; it’s generally a singlet and shorts. There are no helmets or caps, no long-sleeved shirts or pants, no gloves, no stirrups and no belts.

Of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Knicks’ road blues don’t look like they’re missing anything, for example, and the Celtics’ home whites aren’t begging for a green cap.

But having more to work with could theoretically lead to a better uniform. While it mightn’t be the motivation behind them, the new sleeved jerseys give teams more space for originality and differentiation.

The sleeves can house player numbers, for example, as will be done with the Christmas Day jerseys. They also give room for stripes, a patch or an alternate logo.

But sleeves still feel unnatural and too unnecessary to be justified. A better option for adding more to a uniform could be socks.

Teams used to wear long socks with team-coloured stripes. While a return to those socks could be a good look, it’s likely a little too farfetched to expect all NBA players to wear knee-highs.

Regarding farfetched: if the NBA were really interested in altering its approach to socks, it would have done something by now. But still, the idea of sock changes is worth considering.

Instead of the old style, teams could wear regular-length – or knee-high for those so inclined – coloured socks. Picture Golden State wearing yellow socks or New Orleans with red ones with their respective blue road uniforms.

Dallas could have a star on their socks. The Nuggets could use their crossed picks alternate logo and the Jazz could put their basketball note logo on theirs.

Washington could go with red, white and blue stripes.

There are of course potential problems. For it to best work, particularly with logos, the NBA logo would have to be removed from the visible part of the sock, something that seems particularly unlikely for the league to embrace. Plus the good work of striped socks could be undone by a player scrunching them down while playing.

It’d be mildly risky and it’s certainly unnecessary. With headbands and shooting sleeves commonplace, adding coloured socks to the mix could be overkill.

Socks are, however, more of an essential part of an NBA wardrobe than sleeves. Making them team-specific could be a subtler but superior choice than the sleeve option for giving teams more material to make their own.

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