No, for real — that headline is true. Check out this game story (and accompanying photo) from the Milwaukee Bucks' win over the Seattle Supersonics on Jan. 25, 1972, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's third year in the league (click the image for a larger version):
For those who don't feel quite like reading the fine newsprint, here's Milwaukee Journal scribe Bob Wolf's account:
As far as the visiting Seattle Supersonics were concerned, the only amusing thing about the basketball game at the Arena Tuesday night was that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wore his trunks backwards.
Aside from that one little slipup, the Milwaukee Bucks were a fearsome lot as they dismembered one of the better teams in the National Basketball Association, 123-91. [...]
At game's end, the badly beaten Sonics were ready to agree that it didn't make a bit of difference how he wore his pants.
Asked about his sartorial mistake, Abdul-Jabbar grinned and said, "Somebody told me about it shortly after the game started, but we were going by then."
Since the Bucks' trunks are the boxer type, the only visible evidence that Abdul-Jabbar had them on backward was that the club emblem was in the back instead of the front. And he didn't bother to turn them around at halftime.
On one hand, not pulling the old switcheroo when you've been notified that your shorts are on backward — as Washington Wizards big man Kevin Seraphin did on the bench back in January 2011 — seems kind of strange. On the other, though, it's hard to mess with success — Kareem finished with 26 points, 18 rebounds and four assists in the blowout win.
Maybe Cap knows something we don't about the feel, comfort and performance-enhancing elements of backward shorts. There's only one way to find out if it holds true in today's NBA — we're going to need one of the players still alive in the conference finals to give it a shot. My vote's for Zach Randolph, because:
A) He could use a shift in luck after shooting 27 percent from the floor in two losses to the San Antonio Spurs, and
B) The Grizzlies are already the most Internet-friendly team in the NBA, and this would only bolster their bona fides.
C'mon, Z-Bo. Come out reversed for Saturday's Game 3. Make Kareem, and the rest of us, proud.