David Stern once claimed that the NBA dress code most commonly attributable to Allen Iverson was actually because of Steve Nash.
That’s according to Dan Patrick, who relayed the late NBA commissioner’s comments on the matter in an interview with The Answer last week.
Patrick said that Stern used to fight what he believed was the mischaracterization that Iverson was responsible for the NBA player dress code that went into effect in the 2005-06 season. It required players to wear business casual attire to games and at least a sports coat with dress shoes while on the bench, while outlawing a number of large jewelry items.
“David Stern said that everyone thinks this is the Allen Iverson rule,” Patrick recalled. “He said that it’s really Steve Nash. He had a problem with how Nash dressed when he went to the press conferences.”
Patrick also told Iverson he was ahead of his time with his tattoos and cornrows.
Iverson said he “kind of took the ass-whipping” for his appearance and called it “bittersweet” that today’s players can be more expressive in their fashion choices after all the establishment pushback he received.
“Back then, I was 21 years old, and I didn’t understand,” Iverson said. “I was just kind of dressing like the guys from my neighborhood that I grew up with, so it was natural to me. And then with the tattoos, I always wanted them but I couldn’t afford them. Once I could afford them, I went overboard. But all the tattoos mean something to me.”
With the hair, he explained, he struggled finding barber shops on the road that wouldn’t mess his hair up, and found corn rows to be the functional solution to that issue.
“With the dress code and all that, I was hurt by it. I didn’t understand it,” he said. “Now, you see guys wearing whatever they want, looking the way they want, and I know this had a lot to do with me getting the dress code changed. But it’s a good feeling to see guys expressing themselves they want to.
“Because, when you watch the game, everybody don’t play the same. So why would everyone look the same? Why would everyone dress the same? You got all these guys with suits. When I grew up, I never went to the park with a suit on to play basketball. The only time I wore a suit was to church and to a funeral.
Iverson said he had not heard that Nash was actually the impetus for the dress code, and said that he and Stern became “so close” after his playing career ended.
It’s difficult to believe the version of events that Nash was just as much in Stern’s mind as Iverson when he made this rule, but perhaps that was the way Stern saw it in his own mind as his relationship with Iverson blossomed in the latter years.