Apparently in the NBA, haircuts are taken more seriously than on-court activity.
As you may have heard, Iman Shumpert was informed by the NBA that he had to remove the Adidas logo that he had shaved in the back of his flat top.
According to Ben Goliver of Sports Illustrated:
Sporting a corporate logo during games is indeed against NBA rules. Item 5 of Section H of the NBA rule book’s extended comments section, which governs “player/team conduct and dress”, reads: “The only article bearing a commercial ‘logo’ which can be worn by players is their shoes.”
The language appears alongside other uniform notes, which include: no t-shirts, players must tuck their uniform shirts into their shorts, players must assume a “dignified posture” during the National Anthem, and coaches and assistant coaches must wear a “sport coat or suit coat” during games.
This isn’t an NBA-specific rule. In 2011, MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement also banned players from having corporate logos tattooed on themselves.
Shumpert did sign a contract that restricted him from performing the aforementioned action, and it appears from his comments that he wasn’t consciously invoking the League’s ire, but rather was unaware of any issue with embossing a logo in the back of his cut. Though personally I chafe at the notion of restrictions that prevent an adult from making personal decisions with their lives and with their bodies, when a person signs a legally binding contract, freedom of expression is often limited, even in terms of something as seemingly innocuous as a triangle-shaped symbol.
The league has a vested interest in maintaining control when it comes to advertising. Countless dollars change hands due to the NBA’s many sponsorship deals, from the advertising that appears on court to the team uniforms that are all manufactured by Adidas (ironically). Allowing players to become their own personal marketing vehicles is a can of worms that has the potential to impact their bottom line.
Of course, this little-known rule should surprise absolutely no one. The NBA has banned many things of greater importance than a hairstyle in recent memory. In 1985, Michael Jordan’s first pair of sneakers were banned for not matching the Bulls’ jerseys and violating on-court dress code. In October 2005, Commissioner David Stern implemented a mandatory dress code that eliminated anything that wasn’t ,”business or conservative attire,” for players who were sitting on the bench. Most recently, in 2011, the NBA banned taunting. Whether it be hanging on the rim or in the form of “stare-downs,” the NBA dishes out technical fouls as punishment.
The “crime” here isn’t just about my objections with the NBA bylaws, it’s with how 21 Shump Street’s haircut has been butchered. Even though some people and players have expressed negative opinions about his hairstyle, Shumpert’s hair is greatness incarnate. And yes, I must state upfront that this is coming from someone who has a flat top of his own. However, there is a bright side in the sullying of the glorious backside of his nineties-esque, Kick-and-play and quintessential Fresh Prince-like high top fade; the NBA still hasn’t banned skyscraper high haircuts (for now).
I hope that one day Shump will be allowed to don a dazzling style, no matter what he products he endorses, while playing in Madison Square Garden. Odds are, that won’t happen any time too soon.
Take a look for yourselves (via Shumpert’s Instagram):