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Suits be gone: NBA coaches will continue wearing casual attire at games
Team staffs have one less thing to plan for before each game. When did NBA coaches stop wearing suits? And will it continue?
When the Pacers take the floor Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden for their first of four exhibition games, Rick Carlisle will be back on their sideline. This time, his third stint with the franchise, he and his staff won’t be wearing suits at games.
Polos and quarter-zips are here to stay after “a strong majority” of coaches throughout the NBA were in favor of it.
“I like whatever everybody wants to do,” said Carlisle, the president of the National Basketball Coaches Association. “We take a poll of our coaches and there’s a strong majority for polos and quarter-zips really for obvious reasons.
“Buying new suits every year is expensive, traveling with an additional garment bag is a pain in the ass, and the comfort level of the polos and quarter-zips is exceptional. And it looks good. Everybody is wearing the same thing. It’s been a very positive thing and the league has been really great about working with us on it.”
The change was adopted by the coaches during the 2020 NBA restart in the Orlando bubble, and it’s continued ever since.
So why are NBA coaches not wearing suits?
It’s a sharp, traditional look. And some old-school coaches prefer it. However, from a comfort and functional standpoint, this makes sense for all. After all, it is a game, a sport, a form of entertainment.
NFL coaches are in t-shirts, polos and hoodies; MLB managers wear uniforms. Polos and quarter-zips are a clean look and an entire staff wearing the same thing reinforces the idea togetherness.
The change was one of the positives to come out of the last 12 months. (The Lakers finished off the Heat in the bubble Finals on Oct. 11, 2020, less than one year ago.)
“There’s a lot of positives that came out of it; we crowned two champions,” Carlisle said. “I think a lot of great things happened.
“We’re going through a phase in our history where you got to be light on your feet, you got to be able to adjust and you got to have a level of discipline about whatever the rules are at that particular time. My feeling is it’s shown that the NBA has a great level of resilience — the NBA players, coaches, management people, ownership — has a great level of resilience and resourcefulness. That’s how it’s got to be.”
NBA head coaches used to have a deal with a clothing line that allowed for them to receive a select number of free suits each year. Some head coaches used to gift their assistants a new suit before the season or for Christmas. (Jim O’Brien used to do that.)
Coaches have enough to consider before games. Now what they’re wearing is one less thing for everyone on staff to think about during a busy season.
NBA coaches no longer wear suits … because they don’t have to.