When Did NBA Coaches Stop Wearing Suits?

A lot has changed in the NBA over the years, and one of the most noticeable changes has been the style of the coaches. Whereas coaches used to almost always dress in suits, now many of them dress much more casually. So when did this change happen?

The Early Days

NBA coaches used to dress like they were going to church. That all changed in the 1970s when Red Auerbach led the Boston Celtics to nine championships in ten years. He did it while wearing a sweater and smoking a cigar. Other coaches followed his lead and the trend has continued ever since. Let’s take a look at the history of NBA coaches and their fashion choices.

The 1950s and 60s

In the 1950s and 60s, it was not uncommon for NBA coaches to wear suits on the sidelines. This was a time when men generally dressed more formally in everyday life, so it made sense that coaches would continue this trend while at work. However, as the years went on and basketball became more of a televised sport, coaches began to dress down in order to look more approachable and relatable to fans. This trend reached its peak in the 1980s, when it became rare to see a coach in anything other than a sweat suit or casual clothing.

Today, there is even more of a trend towards informality, with many coaches opting to wear their team’s gear instead of traditional coach’s clothing. This is likely due to the increased focus on branding and marketing within the NBA. By wearing their team’s apparel, coaches are able to better promote their brand and connect with fans.

The 1970s

During the 1970s, the NBA became embroiled in a drug scandal. Several players, including some of the biggest stars in the league, were caught using cocaine and other illegal drugs. In an effort to clean up the image of the league, Commissioner David Stern enforced a dress code for players and coaches that banned jeans, t-shirts, and other casual attire. This dress code was strictly enforced for several years and helped to restore public confidence in the NBA.

However, by the end of the decade, drug use among players was once again on the rise. In an effort to crack down on this problem, the league instituted a mandatory drug testing program for all players in 1983. This program helped to keep drugs out of the league and allowed players and coaches to dress more casually. As a result, suits and ties became less common on NBA sidelines during the 1980s and 1990s.

The Modern Era

In the past, NBA coaches were required to wear suits while on the sidelines. This rule was put in place to promote a professional image. However, in recent years, the league has become more relaxed when it comes to the dress code for coaches. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see coaches wearing casual clothes such as sweatpants and hoodies.

The 1980s

During the 1980s, most NBA coaches still dressed like they were going to church. Even the great Pat Riley, who led the “Showtime” Lakers to four championships in the 1980s, wore a suit on the sidelines. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that coaches started to experiment with more casual attire.

One of the first coaches to ditch the suit was Don Nelson, who coached the Milwaukee Bucks from 1976 to 1987. Nelson began wearing jeans and a sweater on the sidelines in 1986 and continued to do so for the rest of his career. Following Nelson’s lead, other coaches began to experiment with more casual attire, including Jerry Sloan (Utah Jazz), Phil Jackson (Chicago Bulls) and Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs).

Today, it is very rare to see an NBA coach wearing a suit on the sidelines. The vast majority of coaches dress casually, often wearing Renew All or sweatshirts.

The 1990s

The 1990s were a time of great change in the NBA. Players were becoming more outspoken, and the league was becoming more marketed towards a younger, hipper audience. This was also the decade when NBA coaches began to ditch the suits and ties in favor of more casual attire.

It all started with Pat Riley, head coach of the New York Knicks. In the early 1990s, Riley began to experiment with wearing more casual clothing on the sidelines, including denim jeans and sweaters. Other coaches soon followed suit, and by the end of the decade, it was rare to see an NBA coach wearing anything other than casual clothes.

There are a few theories as to why this change took place. One is that it simply reflected the changing times; as players became more relaxed and informal, so did coaches. Another is that it was a way for coaches to connect with their players; by dressing like them, they could create a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that Casual Friday arrived in the NBA sooner than it did in most other workplaces!

The 2000s

In the 2000s, NBA coaches began to move away from the tradition of wearing suits on the sidelines. This was due in part to the increased casualization of American culture, as well as the growing popularity of sportswear brands such as Nike and Adidas among young people. Coaches started to experiment with different styles and looks, and soon it became commonplace to see them wearing jeans, sweaters, and even sweatsuits. While there are still some coaches who prefer to dress up for games, the majority now opt for a more relaxed and comfortable style.

The Present

The National Basketball Association was founded in 1946. At that time, all the coaches were required to wear suits during games. This made sense because the coaches were representing their teams and the suit was seen as a sign of respectability. In the 1970s, however, things began to change.

The 2010s

In the 2010s, NBA coaches started dressing down more and more. Coaches like Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs and Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors began to set the trend by wearing casual clothing on the sidelines. This new trend spread throughout the league, and by the end of the decade, very few NBA coaches were still wearing suits during games.

The 2020s

In the 2020s, NBA coaches have largely abandoned the suit and tie look in favor of more casual clothing. This trend has been driven in part by the league’s younger coaches, who are more likely to dress down than their older counterparts. While some coaches still opt for a more formal look on occasions, it is now commonplace to see them wearing jeans, sweatshirts, and sneakers on the sidelines.

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