David Stern and the NBA brass are prudes when it comes to on-court apparel for their players. There was a huge to-do a few years ago when Stern sent out an edict requiring all non-uniformed players to wear suits before, during, and after games.
Here is the entire league policy that came down in 2005, but my favorite part has to be the list of “Excluded Items”:
The following is a list of items that players are not allowed to wear at any time while on team or league business:
- 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)
I’d love to see the first wise-ass who showed up to a basketball clinic in a suit, causing the “unless appropriate for event” clause.
Despite the initial backlash, nobody really seems to have a problem with the dress code anymore. In fact players seem to be happy that they’ve found a new way to display their wealth. It’s also provided some fantastic entertainment for the fans, who are occasionally treated to outfits like this.
The “business casual” non-uniform dress code aside, there has been a long-standing policy regarding the uniform itself. Players aren’t allowed to adorn themselves with too much other than headbands and wristbands, with the occasional exception for injury-related paraphernalia. Arm sleeves have become quite popular, but Stern had to put the kibosh on leggings a few years ago when players like Kobe Bryant started wearing them. Despite the craze, you never once saw an NBA player wearing a gigantic icy white tee underneath his jersey. It’s against the rules, much to the chagrin of James Harden.
Certainly one thing we never thought we’d see was a player wearing sunglasses during a game. Well, believe it or not, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade has discovered a way to circumvent the rules and will wear tinted glasses in tonight’s game against the New York Knicks.
Wade says that the glasses will help shield him from the bright lights of the arena, which aggravate his migraine headaches. But I think we all know this is just another way for Wade to put his stamp on the NBA fashion world. I mean, one other way to get rid of migraines is to take Advil, but the little pills don’t photograph very well.
Either way it should be interesting to watch. Wade says he’ll take them off occasionally and at the time of the interview he hadn’t seen himself in the mirror wearing them. Safe to say that if he looks half as good as Corey Hart, he’ll be keeping them on for a while.