Back when the NBA started sneakers weren’t really a fashion statement like they are today. Players pretty much wore whatever sneaker was given to them by the league or the brand that sponsored them. Then when Michael Jordan came to the NBA it all changed with his now iconic Air Jordan 1. When Nike outfitted His Airness with the Air Jordan 1 in the “Bred” colorway which featured black and red the NBA wasn’t gonna have it. So it is reported that the NBA fined Michael every time he wore that color because the rules used to state that “teams were required to not only use the predominant single color design (which was white for the Bulls), but also have their players in largely matching looks.
Fast forward 30 years later and the sneaker culture in the NBA has done a full 180. Now the new NBA rule says that players are allowed to wear “basketball footwear manufactured by the shoe company of their choice during NBA games”. The shoes must be “appropriate and designed primarily for basketball” and the left and right shoes must match in color and design. And, of course, please no flashing lights or “similar types of adornments.”
As far as colors are concerned, NBA players are now given much more freedom in comparison to before. Players “may wear shoes containing any combination of white, gray, black and the colors with the team identity.”
“In the last 10 years, we’ve simply evolved from a rule that required players to wear the same color sneaker—which was defined by the majority of a shoe being one color—to allowing players to embrace their team identities and allowing team colors on sneakers in any proportion,” Christopher Arena, NBA’s senior vice president of identity, outfitting & equipment.
To make things even more interesting, the NBA has special designated days where they open up differing options beyond the base trio and team colors, dubbed “event games” in the official rules. Some of those occasions include wearing any color shoes during the preseason and All-Star Game, the defending Champions being able to wear gold on opening night, orange for Halloween and green for St. Patricks Day, red/white/navy/camouflage for Veterans Day and blue/gold for Chinese New Year (February 2016). We also can’t forget about the pastel colors during Easter, red/green/flat gold during Christmas and this year there will also be league-approved colorway options for MLK Day and Black History Month.
What are your thoughts on the NBA allowing more freedom when it comes to what color sneakers players can wear on the court? Should they tighten up the rules or continue to allow more and more freedom?