It was 10 years ago this year that David Stern sent out the dress code memo. NBA players were dressing like everyone into the hip-hop culture — baggy jeans, sports clothing, gold chains, etc. This didn’t play well with the old, rich, white guys that buy luxury boxes and expensive seats (not to mention the league sponsors). Stern stepped in and made his call.
Players called it the AI rule, after Allen Iverson (who was at the forefront of ushering hip-hop culture into the NBA). Iverson, as you would expect, hated it.
Former Sixers forward Andrew Iguodala said Iverson bought several oversized suits to adhere to the dress code.
“Allen wasn’t a fan of it,” said Iguodala, now with the Warriors. “Allen just wanted to be comfortable. He wasn’t trying to just be a rebel without a cause. He was like, ‘I just want to be comfortable. I just want to go to the game and play basketball.’ He didn’t want to be uptight or feel restricted.
“You watched him play and his style was to be able to freelance and move carefree, just be comfortable in his own world. He said, ‘When I do that, I don’t want to be restricted with a tie or collar on my neck.’ “
The pendulum has swung the other way now — many players pride themselves on how they dress. A few guys even have their own clothing or accessory lines. The league relaxed the rule some — players used to have wear sport coats, now they can wear dress jeans and a button up shirt — but a lot of players go above and beyond anyway.
Then there is whatever Russell Westbrook is doing.