Express Yourself: NBA softens rules; allows players to wear basketball shoes of their choice

For the most part, the NBA has restricted the colors of on-court sneakers to either 51 percent white or black, along with team color accent which depended on whether a team was the host or the visitor. That might seem like a lot of flexibility, but it wasn’t enough. Especiallyconsidering the many variations of color, styles, designs, and colorways that exist in today’s basketball shoe industry.

Now that restriction is no longer; the first time in NBA history, the league is allowing it’s players t choose the color of the basketball shoes they want to wear, at any point during the upcoming season. That’s huge. The change in this rule is being viewed as the league relaxing their grip on how players can express themselves.

No doubt, Nike being the official outfitter of the league may have had something to do with it. Last season was the first time, the Oregon-based company provided all of the NBA’s jerseys. Taking over for Adidas starting in 2017-18, Nike just didn’t revamp the regular game jerseys, but came up with multiple alternate designs — including the well-received City Edition jerseys. Nike also bucked tradition by influencing the league to not limit home teams to wearing white jerseys. Teams had the choice to pre-designate were at their their home and away jerseys.

From ESPN:

As part of the Swoosh’s eight-year, $1 billion deal to outfit the NBA, Nike has been aggressive in amplifying the look of teams and players across the league. Nearly 67 percent of players wore footwear from Nike or its Jordan Brand subsidiary last season.

History of Fashion Restrictions– On-Court and Off

The NBA isn’t the most conservative sports league — not by any measure, but they have historically been forced to react and place restrictions on the clothing, uniforms and shoes that players used to express themselves. Two of the more well-known examples was the league forbidding Michael Jordan‘s black-and-red Air Jordan-branded sneakers during the 1984-85 season.

A more recent example was the dress code the league enforced in 2005 for players not participating in the game — inspired by Allen Iverson‘s off-court attire.

Nike leveraged the Jordan ban with a marketing campaign. The rest is history. No doubt, Nike will be positive in terms of empowering teams and players to be more expressive with their fashion choices on the court, and no doubt the league will decide what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Leave a Reply