Prior to the NBA enforcing a dress code, players were allowed to express themselves sartorially however they saw fit. Most were already rocking suits but some players were a bit more…expressive. Some fans and media were concerned with the way the players were dressing and league commissioner David Stern seemed to agree. He instituted a dress code that polarized the league and the basketball community at large.
Several years have since passed and the league’s dress code rarely gets mentioned. Players often appear on lists of the most fashionable celebrities, have stylists and have still managed to keep their individuality intact.
Some called the dress code racist, claiming that the league was trying to discipline itself from hip hop culture, a predominantly Black culture that influenced so many of its players. Some questioned the League’s motivation for sure. Was the move an attempt to placate the more conservative members of the NBA fanbase? Who knows?
The dress code was an undeniable stance against baggy jeans, throwback jerseys and baseball caps in a business setting. An attempt to gain the respect of fans by showing them that the players were professionals, and that they were taking their jobs seriously. And some found no fault with that, insisting that the players are at work during press conferences or while sitting on the benches at games (while not in uniform) and should dress as such.
Stern’s goal with instilling the dress code was to change public perception of the league and its most valuable assets, the players. Several years later, do we look at NBA players in a different light? Can you honestly, and without prejudice, ascertain the nature a man’s character from the way he dresses?