One of the most despised actions of David Stern's tenure as NBA commissioner was the NBA dress code, which went into affect at the start of the 2005-06 season and was Stern's answer to the “hip-hop” and “hooligan” image of the NBA and its players. Naturally this affected African-American players more than any others, and items like jerseys, jeans, wave caps, headphones around the neck, and even Timberlands were banned at interviews, games, charity events, or any other function associated or affiliated with the NBA. Making it even more audacious is the fact that this was the first dress code imposed by a major professional sports league in the USA. In an era of the NBA that was filled with players with big personalities (cough-Allen Iverson, Rasheed Wallace, Paul Pierce, etc.), the dress code was openly understood as a way to attempt and control those personalities and align them with that of the vanilla NBA executives.

Some believe that the “Malice at the Palace” was the final straw in the progression to a dress code, but with several teams already having their own loose variations on a dress code, this was probably more of an inevitability than an all-out attack. The dress code is in effect to this day, but is often challenged by players who must compete with code while honoring sponsorship agreements from brands like Nike, Adidas, and even Beats By Dre.

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