The NBA has always had a wide range of players who had drip, and who stood out among their peers in the fashion world. Players who didn't just capture the attention of the media with their all-star performances, but also off the court as well. Before social media there were many who had this extra level of basketball stardom, but most notably Michael Jordan, and Allen Iverson were at the top. These players added a whole new level to what it meant to be a superstar basketball player, it wasn’t just enough to be atop the best players in the world, but to change a culture and influence generations is what set them apart. They were themselves, weren’t afraid to be authentic, to be different. They had drip.
Along with their playstyles, the way they dressed and carried themselves screamed individuality, bringing in fans all across the world because of it, expanding the NBA’s fanbase in the process. So the NBA couldn’t complain that their face of the league at the time, Allen Iverson, looked like a rapper or thug. That was of course until altercations forced the association to make a change.
On Oct 17th, 2005, the NBA issued a Dress Code demanding that all players must dress in business casual attire during any team or league business. The Association implemented the rule in order to get away from the image that it was a “league of thugs”, an image that was cast upon the league after the infamous “Malice At The Palace” brawl which occurred during a Pacers vs Pistons game on Nov 19th, 2004. The new rule caused a lot of players to be upset, however the players soon turned that frustration into friendly competition.
The Dress Code consisted of the following:
- Sleeveless shirts
- T-shirts, jerseys, or sports apparel (unless appropriate for the event (e.g., a basketball clinic), team-identified, and approved by the team)
- Headgear of any kind while a player is sitting on the bench or in the stands at a game, during media interviews, or during a team or league event or appearance (unless appropriate for the event or appearance, team-identified, and approved by the team)
- Chains, pendants, or medallions worn over the player’s clothes
- Sunglasses while indoors
- Headphones (other than on the team bus or plane, or in the team locker room)
"It became a competition amongst guys, and you really started to understand the clothes you put on your body, the materials you started to wear, so then you become more of a fan of it”
- Dwayne Wade on the dress code enforced in 2005
The Dress code is in fact still enforced within the NBA today, however the league doesn't view it quite the same way as it did back in the early 2000’s. The popularity of the NBA grew tremendously through the rise of social media, and along with that, the players and their respective personalities and styles. Pregame arrivals have become the thing, and with the influence and reach that marquee players have, fashion designers have taken notice, approaching players, inviting them to shows, and fitting them in the latest fashion. Through this, the players have now turned the arena tunnels into runways, adding an almost priceless amount of publicity for the NBA as a whole. Even though the Dress Code is still in effect, this has been causing the league to lose interest in handing out fines to players, because why would they?