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On October 17, 2005, National Basketball Association commissioner David Stern implemented a mandatory dress code for all NBA and NBA Development League players. This was especially noteworthy because the NBA became the first major professional sports league to implement such a rule, although National Hockey League rules state that a player is supposed to wear a jacket and tie to games and on charters if not told otherwise by the head coach or general manager. Also, nearly every sport has rules on what a player can wear while playing, usually for safety reasons and/or the protection of sponsors.

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Details of the dress code

Stern's dress code stated that all players must dress in business or conservative attire while arriving and departing during a scheduled game, on the bench while injured, and when conducting official NBA business (press interviews, charity events, etc.) The new dress code banned fashions most often associated with hip-hop culture, specifically: Hardwood Classics jerseys (or any other jersey), jeans, hats, do-rags, t-shirts, large jewelry, sneakers and Timberland style boots. This particular clothing is not allowed to be worn by players to interviews, games (on and off the bench), charity events, or any other occasion affiliated with the NBA or the NBDL. Violators of the dress code are fined and may be suspended with repeat offenses. The dress code was developed with the intention of combating image problems that have plagued the NBA in recent history.

Under current NBA dress regulations, if a player does not dress to participate in a game, he must dress in a manner suitable for a coach. In the NBA, a suit or a sport coat is required for coaches, but a necktie is not required.

As of 2006-07, it is unclear whether anyone has been punished for violating the dress code.

Supporting arguments

The league's image was very much in tatters following the Pacers–Pistons brawl in 2004. Supporters also claim that most businesses require their employees to adhere to a dress code of some kind so the NBA is not making any unusual demands. Moreover, the NBA was not requiring players to wear a suit and tie, as had been rumored initially. Further, many NBA teams already had dress codes, as dictated by coaches or general managers. Penalties for non-compliance usually involved fines such as having to pay for one's own airfare to wherever the team was going, rather than flying on the team charter.

Opposing arguments

Critics such as Allen Iverson, Stephen Jackson, and Paul Pierce claim that the dress code will not change a person's character regardless of what type of clothing they wear, and that associating hip-hop style of dress with crime or a bad image is racist. Iverson was also quoted to say, "the dress code is not who I am and doesn't allow me to express myself." Many NBA and non-NBA sports figures also claim that it targets young black males and is a slap against hip-hop culture which the NBA also exploits to its benefit when it suits them (such as promoting the All-star game). Most NBA clothing sponsors such as Nike, Reebok, Puma, and Adidas, also use hip-hop to promote their products.

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