The Flashy Side Of The NBA


The NBA is nothing if not flashy. Basketball by nature leaves a lot of room for showboating and star power. Although it is a team game, there can easily be standout players. And as any kid growing up watching the NBA might tell you, many of our superstars have signature moves. Whether it’s LeBron throwing up chalk before a game or Steph Curry chewing on his mouth guard at the free throw line, many NBA players like to stand out with some pizzazz.

But it’s not only signature moves that let players show their personality. The league has gotten more and more lenient over the years with what they allow players to wear. You might think back to Allen Iverson and his arm sleeve or Paul Pierce who for years was never seen without a headband.

In the early days of basketball players were required to simply wear their uniforms and white or black basketball shoes. There was not the variety you see today different kinds of wristbands, armbands, headbands, spandex, and other style choices.

Shoes are a big deal as well. Many players have their own deals with companies like Nike and have their own clothing and shoe lines. Players can be just as particular about their choice of shoes as about their accessories. You can see players wearing shoes of all different styles and colors. But the rules are changing yet again.

Shoe choice goes a bit further than choosing whether or not to wear a headband. Different shoes can supposedly be helpful to a player in different ways. Some give more ankle support. Others are better at absorbing shock. There are even shoes that are supposed to make players jump higher. In a sport in which jumping is incredibly important, shoes that may increase jumping ability can be controversial and even banned by the NBA.

The NBA is very careful about what they do and don’t allow. They don’t want a player to have an advantage based on something as silly as which shoes they wear. Let’s take a look which shoes the NBA has disallowed over the years. 

A Long History Of Banned Shoes  

The NBA is yet again changing what they might allow players to wear on their feet. But before we delve into the new season, let’s take a look at past examples shoes that didn’t make in onto the floor.

Michael Jordan’s famous Air Jordan shoe has been around for a long time. But it was not allowed in the NBA when it came out. Unfortunately for Jordan, he couldn’t wear his own shoes on the court. But he was able to wear them in the 1985 slam dunk contest.

Carmelo Anthony also ran into problems with his signature shoe. This product was also produced by the Jordan brand. What set it apart was its chrome heel. This was a problem for several reasons. The first one is obvious. Were the chrome to break of off the shoe it could present a hazard to players on the court. The second is that light inside the arena would reflect off the chrome, creating a distraction for other player. The reflecting light also was a problem for TV cameras as it shone into their screens.

The Air Jordan company fixed this issue midseason by creating a matte colored heel for Anthony.

Da’Aaron Fox’s Mismatched Shoes  

Some shoe styles are so out of this world that they are just plain distracting. Fox chose to wear two different shoes from Kyrie Irving’s signature line. One was bright pink and purple, the other neon yellow. The league deemed this combination to be unacceptable. Fox was forced to change into LeBron’s signature shoes, which were a bit more conservative. 

Josh Smith And His Outlandish Colors  

Some color schemes simply clash too much with uniforms. Josh Smith, playing for the Atlanta Hawks, was warned by the NBA against wearing his red, black, and teal shoes. Perhaps if the Hawks had different colors in their jerseys he would have been permitted to wear the shoes. 

Even Steph Curry Can’t Get Away With Anything 

Steph Curry had a signature pair of shoes made by Under Armor. In order to match his uniform he took the pattern from his jersey and had Under Armor replicate it on his shoes. The only problem was that all jerseys in the NBA are made by Nike. So there was a copyright issue with Curry using the same pattern with a different issue.

As the players are getting more personal with their footwear, the NBA is cracking down harder. There are no specific rules as of yet as to what players are forbidden to wear. But more and more we are seeing players switch out of more distracting shoe choices. It’s hard to imagine a regression to the days of black and white shoes but a middle ground may have to be reached in the coming season. 


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