A Brief History Of Accessories In The NBA

A Brief History Of Accessories In The NBA

On court accessories have gone from protecting the athletes physical conditions, to protecting their psyche. Boosting their confidence levels and self-esteem through the athletes appearance. Either way, accessories add a certain level of drip, and wether it's for medical reasons or superstitions, we need to pay our respects to the ones who paved the way. 




#1 Arm Sleeve

Allen Iverson Arm Sleeve


Allen Iverson is no stranger to style and doing his own thing, and the Arm Sleeve is just one example. It all started on January 21st, 2001, when Iversons/Philadelphia 76ers trainer, Lenny Currier, came up with a new but questionable solution to the superstars Elbow problem. Iverson had bursitis in his right elbow, and it was swelling over time, however he didn’t view taking a leave of absence for surgery as an option. Currier told A.I. to give this new tube made of compression stockinette a try, to hopefully be a temporary solution. Iverson went to score 51 that night, lead his team to the NBA Finals, averaging 35 ppg on the season… and the rest is history.

By 2016, 65% of the league wore at least 1 sleeve becoming a staple for a large portion of players in the league today. A staple for such players as Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Russell Westbrook to name a few. 

#2 Headband

Wilt Chamberlain Headband

Wilt Chamberlain will forever go down as one of the G.O.A.T.’s. Along with completely destroying his competition, and having a scoring record which is nearly untouchable, he introduced the game with an accessory that will last as long as his legacy, the headband. However, when he first put it on the map it looked a bit different then it does today, first introducing the look with a headband that had a thick front, and skinny back.

Nowadays the headband is a popular choice among players in the league, but Wilt's skinny to thick style has yet to make it to modern times. 

#3 Compression Leggings

Allen Iverson In leggings

Exactly who pioneered compression leggings on the court is a bit unclear, but it would be no surprise if it all came back to A.I. once again. Without question, he was one of the first within the game to showcase the accessory, sparking an on court fashion trend which would still stand strong today, along with its variations. 

In an interview with Complex, Iverson was asked what his biggest wardrobe fines were, he replied saying that “I would usually get my fines not with wardrobes but with my uniform”. Thinking back to when the NBA enforced that all players wear their shorts an inch or two above their knee, A.I. laughed and said “but I don’t show my knee”. This rule first got Iverson wearing leggings, but the NBA was not fond of his new style either. Having dealt with continuous fines Iverson joked by saying that he would “send them a blank cheque” and he would just “see what is at the end of the year”.

#4 Calf Sleeve

Tracy Mcgrady Calf Sleeve

You could argue that Micheal Jordan is the pioneer of the Calf Sleeve, but there is no denying that Tracy Mcgrady took it to a different level. T-Mac had a certain kind of drip with his Calf Sleeve, MJ did too, however its Mcgrady's longer version that the later generations would adopt, labeling the shorter version as somewhat old fashioned. But with that being said, maybe MJ was just the only one who could pull it off.

#5 Sweatbands & Wristbands

Michael Jordan sweatband

Sweatbands have been around the NBA for decades, but it's safe to say Micheal Jordan was the one who put them on the map for good. Ever since he stepped onto the scene in 1984 he was dripping with a sweatband, then came the signature shoes, and the Calf Sleeve. There is no denying that MJ made the sweatband look more popular, even influencing players such as Kobe Bryant.

But over the years the sweatband has lost traction. However a new wristband has taken the spotlight, the rubber wristband. Instead of being worn to soak up sweat, the rubber wristband is primarily for drip, only being worn on the wrist as opposed to other various areas of the arm. 


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