NBA Fashion Adds To Its Growing Popularity

One of the best elements of pro sports that fans have fully embraced is what players do outside of the games. Sure, there are times society becomes too involved and entitled to what players do in their free time, but that is the negative extreme of the idea that these individuals are interested in facets away from the court. For example, a common question when getting to know someone pertains to their hobbies and life outside of work. It's generally understood that knowing about those things grants us some access to people's lives. Pro athletes are no different, as the many platforms available on the internet show summer workouts and trips around the world in real-time to their fans.

A huge element of outside life that blends onto the NBA court is fashion. It seems that players want to show out and be just fashionable - or at best, experimental - on the way to the arena as they will on the hardwood. From the pregame attire to the basketball socks and shoes the players are wearing, fashion becomes more and more compelling to follow.

But let's remember a time where this pivot took place.

October 17, 2005. Commissioner David Stern implemented a dress code, requiring players to dress "in a manner suitable for a coach" before or during a game, if active. It is well documented how this was tied to the still-current idea that those who dress according to hip-hop culture have been associated with criminals and other troublemakers. As the NBA was dealing with the fallout from The Malice at The Palace, it reacted in a manner most juggernauts of society that mostly employ minorities do: enact a small policy that's introduced as a way to display better but actually adds to negative stereotypes associated with those minorities.

However, in this decade, the Association has relented a bit with the dress code. As fashion trends change and lean towards more form-fitting attire - and, it cannot be overstated, there hasn't been a player-fan catastrophe like the Malice at The Palace since - players are developing an interest in more than just following those trends. James Harden and Russell Westbrook, teammates once again thanks to the latter's trade to Houston, are two of the biggest examples of players pursuing the growth of style.

PJ Tucker and his massive shoe collection can be displayed in games due to the league lifting shoe color restrictions. (The Undefeated)

Commissioner Adam Silver should be given some credit for his decision to relent on some of the restrictions from Stern's policy. Because of it, players' outfits are more stylish and their personalities are reflected in their wardrobe. Players leaned into the idea of being fashionable before the game, and this added a different dimension to the lens with which we view them. Complementing that with lifting the restriction of players' shoes needing to follow the guidelines of team colors makes for an amazing array of on-court footwear. In that department, PJ Tucker is the NBA's shoe king, displaying exclusive pairs that are unrivaled. This adds a depth to players that combat the mundane answers they give reporters who ask mundane questions.

Growth is important. Growth, even for an entity like the NBA, requires space for that growth to happen. Kudos to the Association for understanding that and supplementing its quality in-game product with other, off-court interests.

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