Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook has been making headlines this week, despite the 2021/22 NBA season being months away from tip-off. Westbrook is sparking debates online revolving around his attire seen in a recent photoshoot earlier this week. He was seen sporting a long all-white skirt, cardigan, and blue hair, accessorising further with a diamond choker.
Following this, Westbrook attended the Met Gala on Monday adding to his new look by dying blonde stars into his new do, drawing comparison to NBA Hall of Famer, Dennis Rodman.
“I want to be the guy to be an icon. I wanna be the guy that’s not afraid to put nothing on, and look good doing it, and that’s why I’m here,” Westbrook said at the event.
This is not the first time Westbrook has generated attention for his attire as the
NBA has quite a complicated relationship and history with fashion. Everything from Tim Duncan’s iconic $10 Wallmart getups from the early 2000s, to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ lines of clothing we saw worn through the 2019/20 season, players have always expressed themselves through their pregame fits.
The word ‘complicated’ isn’t used lightly when considering the connection between NBA players and fashion as with every bold trend setting style that walks into the locker room, comes three unfortunate eye sores. Westbrook being quite synonymous with the latter.
To some this aspect of the sport may seem unnecessary or redundant, but the reality is we have become so used to seeing our favourite players sporting their city’s colours that who they really are isn’t able to shine through. With these locker room outfits on display, these players can show the people their own unique style while expressing themselves.
Household names of the game such as Lebron James, Jayson Tatum and James Harden have all eyes on them the second they step foot into an arena and what they’re wearing is a big part of why. This aspect of the sport has become a niche enjoyed by many, generating countless dedicated Instagram accounts and Pinterest pages that document each player’s style.
But it wasn’t always this way, in 2005 the NBA implemented a dress code for all players to abide by as they approach game day, being the first major professional sports league to implement this kind of rule.
This dress code was originally initiated because of the poor image the league had created for itself a year prior stemming from the infamous “Malice at the Palace” where players and spectators at a Pacers – Pistons game were involved in an all-out brawl during the match.
The dress code specifically banned clothing related to ‘street-wear’, for example jewellery, hats, jerseys, jeans, sneakers, and do-rags were all prohibited under then NBA commissioner, David Stern’s rule. Some players perceived this dress code as a challenge, attempting to tread this line of what was acceptable by putting their own individual spin on the dress code.
Following the implementation of this rule in 2005 the league continuously amended it, slowly returning player freedom of expression. Upon Stern’s retirement in 2014, current commissioner, Adam Silver filled his shoes and may as well have thrown the dress code to the wayside as he showed extreme lenience to what athletes can wear to a game.
As of 2021, fear of a fine for one’s pregame fit is almost an afterthought with players abiding by the new “NBA Relaxed Dress Code” which grants players the freedom to wear the experimental fashion we have come to know and love.
Written by Joel Micari || 22/9/2021