An Interview with an NBA Shorts Collector
Anyone can collect jerseys, but it takes a special sensibility to collect shorts.
A little over a month ago, I ran an article here on Substack about the Pistons’ new City Edition uniforms. That article prompted a comment from reader Michael Haug, who wrote, “I love the City program. As a NBA shorts junkie and collector, it keeps me intrigued the whole year.”
As most of you know, I don’t usually write about retail jerseys, caps, or other fan merchandise. But Michael’s comment intrigued me, because collecting NBA shorts seems like such a niche pursuit compared to collecting jerseys. So I got in touch with him and asked if he’d be willing to do an interview. Here’s a transcript of a recent Zoom conversation we had, edited for length and clarity.
Uni Watch: Let’s start with some basic information about you. How old are you, where do you live, and what do you do for a living?
Michael Haug: I’m 42 years old. I’m originally from northern California, but I currently live in Warsaw, Poland. And I’m an IT project manager for an IT consulting firm.
UW: Before we start talking about your NBA shorts collection, here’s something I’m curious about: Do you also collect jerseys?
MH: Not currently. But that’s how I started out, growing up as a teenager in the ’90s. That’s when Champion replica jerseys became really popular, so I had quite a collection of those, but that eventually kind of faded as I got older. I’ve gotten some random jerseys here and there, but I haven’t really been actively collecting them since I was a teenager.
UW: How and when did you start collecting the shorts?
MH: I got my first pair of shorts with my very first paycheck as a teenager. They were the authentic Spurs shorts. I think at the time Nike was making the Spurs’ uniforms — a variety of different companies were making NBA uniforms at the time [and it was tricky to know which company was the manufacturer for which team because there were no exterior maker’s marks — PL]. Anyway, I just thought the Spurs’ shorts looked really sharp.
UW: Were you a Spurs fan, even though you were in northern California?
MH: I was at that time, yeah. I think I kind of gravitated toward their uniform — I just liked it the best. So I had gotten a [David] Robinson Spurs jersey, a [Dennis] Rodman Spurs jersey, and then Sean Elliott ended up becoming my favorite player of all time.
So that’s how it started — I bought those Spurs shorts. I had those for a long time, and that was the only NBA pair I had. But then I lost them during a move, and I was heartbroken. So I went online to get another authentic pair — at the time it was Adidas making them — and I got the Spurs’ home, road, and alternate shorts.
So that kind of got me back into it. And then what really got me going was the Christmas Day game in 2016 —
UW: I think that was the last season they wore the Christmas uniforms, right?
MH: Yeah. The Spurs were playing the Bulls, and I remember thinking, “Oh man, I really gotta get those shorts.” So I went online and tried to hunt them down, but I couldn’t find them. But that just kind of led me into a whole different world, especially with Mitchell & Ness, where they were doing all those old shorts from the ’80s and ’90s. So that’s how it started.
UW: Wasn’t that shorts design basically black on black? That doesn’t seem like something that would really get your attention.
MH: Yeah, all the Christmas shorts that year just were their normal game shorts but with the side panels and waistbands made the same color as the rest of the shorts. So the Spurs had a black-on-black look, which I really liked at the time. The side panels were still there, a bit shinier compared to the base fabric.
During that time I was really into the flat black look with a shiny black logo. New Era had a line of 5950s like that, and I also had some custom Nike shoes and Oakley glasses made in that style. That look was what I was really going for at the time — looked really sleek and sharp to me.
UW: Did you ever track down the Spurs’ 2016 Christmas shorts?