Allen Iverson is a Hall of Famer and his impact on the NBA is immense. There are many guards in the league today that idolized Iverson growing up and his influence is visible in today’s game in the way those players play, but he also had an impact off the court in the way the NBA addresses player fashion.
You don’t notice it much these days, but there was a time where the NBA enforced a dress code on what players can wear on the sidelines of games when they’re not active. Players used to wear whatever street clothes they came in, but for a while, the league had strict mandates that players must arrive in suits or professional attire — although there hasn’t been an outward enforcement of a dress code in years, as players now arrive in all manner of outfits. Iverson’s apparel is largely what inspired the need for a dress code.
How Iverson sees it though is that he was the player that paved the way for not only the NBA to put a dress code against him, but to inspire players around the league to wear whatever they want. From rocking headbands, cornrows, and stylish outfits to games, he sees himself as the player that did all of that first and he talked about that influence recently in an interview with Complex, along with his thoughts on what NBA fashion has become.
“It was just me dressing like guys around here. Dressing like my homeboys. It wasn’t a big deal. Every big time guy that everybody looked up to came in with a suit on. In my eyes, I never wore a suit to the court growing up.
A lot of times my friends and I used to joke that they making a big deal about what you wearing, (but) the stuff that you got on cost more than every suit that they’re wearing. And then when they banned it, they saw that all the guys were starting to look like me. And all it was (is) those guys always wanted to do that, but they felt uncomfortable doing it because they thought they would get a reaction from the league.
It’s basically like I took the ass whooping for them to be able to do what they do. Now you see a plethora of guys with tattoos, and some guys got cornrows. They wear their stuff baggy, well it’s getting smaller now, with the headbands and all that stuff. And it’s cool cause you got different types of game in the NBA. So why would everybody look the same…and it’s to each his own. I respect it. They supposed to have a dress code now with the stuff these guys wearing now. They outrageous with it now.”
This is really classic A.I., because he’s not wrong. He might not be the greatest scorer ever, or the greatest player ever, but arguably nobody had an impact on the league as a culture more than Iverson did. With the way he dressed both on and off the court, it led players to wanting to do the same thing. He inspired kids growing up watching him to want shooting sleeves and baggy clothes. It’s just like he said. Before Iverson, players weren’t decked out in tons of apparel like they are now. Today? Players are covered head to toe in sleeves, gear, etc and a serious argument can be made that Iverson was the original inspiration for all of this.