LeBron James NBA
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – APRIL 22: LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers arrives for game four of the NBA Playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 22, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

In 2005, former commissioner of the NBA David Stern enacted a strict and controversial dress code for the game. In a bid to professionalise and depersonalise attire at the game, instead the guidelines which were still followed until recently, unintentionally sparked a fashion revolution in sport. Scenes which famously included LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers entering an arena in matching Thom Browne suits was quite the norm and spurred on the trend of tailoring paired with sportswear.


For some at the time, it was an act of racism. “They want to sway away from the hip-hop generation,” former player Jason Richardson said at the time. “One thing to me that was kind of racist was you can’t wear chains outside your clothing… You wear a suit, you still could be a crook.” Nevertheless, the policy survived for nearly 14 years – though the attire of a ’90s Michael Jordan would have you believe he was the driving force behind such style. Now amid a health crisis, it would seem comfort and practicality are taking priority with the 2005 dress code abolished – if at least for one season.


NBA dress code
LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 01: Los Angeles Clippers Guard Paul George (13) looks on from the bench during a NBA game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Clippers on February 1, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Despite controversy from top players, the NBA is looking to restart the 2019-2020 season from the end of July and with any return amid a pandemic, there are rules in place to prevent the spread of the virus. The New York Times outlined just a handful of rules from the 113-page rule book for the sport’s entrance back into some normality including a fresh dress code which sees the departure of the sports coat on the bench. In addition, the new protocols as reported by Athletic reporter Shams Charania, allow players to wear short or long-sleeve polos for “team/league business.”

Albeit small changes, it is a far cry to what was worn in past years. Players will also be able to change the name of the jersey to statements related to “social justice issues”. Another adjustment to the stylish aspects of the sport may see the absence of front-row celebrities who often dress up for the occasion (and for the paparazzi).

Now we wait to see how styling the polo shirt will evolve during the forthcoming NBA season.