3 Reasons Why NBA Coaches Are Slowly Going Casual: ‘I’d Be a Better Coach in Polos’

Because of COVID-19, the NBA season saw significant changes as it was forced to carry on within a bubble. Living in a confined environment sans fans impacted players and coaches. One result of playing in the bubble was a change in wardrobe expectations. Within the Orlando bubble, coaches received more relaxed wardrobe guidelines. Let’s learn why many NBA coaches are ready to ditch the suit-and-tie look for a more relaxed dress code moving forward. 

Coronavirus Changing NBA Wardrobe 

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Before COVID-19, NBA coaches sported the traditional suit-and-tie look on game days. The league’s dress code traditionally mandates that every coach wear a dress shirt and a sport coat to games, according to ESPN. However, the National Basketball Coaches Association polled its members regarding what the dress code should be in the bubble. The poll overwhelmingly showed support for adopting a more casual look in Orlando. 

After the coaches’ association took its findings to the league office, the league approved all coaches to adopt a casual style for the NBA’s restart inside the bubble. Inside the NBA bubble in Orlando, many coaches could be seen sporting polo shirts, slacks, and sneakers. While not everyone was keen on the new wardrobe guidelines, others are ready to adopt the change permanently. 

Throw Out the Suit-and-Tie

One coach ready to throw out his suit-and-tie is Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. Spoelstra hasn’t been shy about sharing his opinions with reporters. In regard to the new casual look, Spoelstra has said, “There is so much less to think about. I feel more mobile. The thing I hate most about suits is wearing dress shoes.” Many coaches echoed Spoelstra, agreeing that the polo look removes the headache of finding and transporting suits.

Steve Nash, 18-season NBA veteran and new head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, is another coach excited to usher in a more casual look for NBA coaches. Nash told reporters that he plans to be sporting polos in the upcoming season, telling GQ, “The league is going casual, and [I] expect to go with the flow.” While Spoelstra, Nash, and a slew of other coaches want to throw out the suit-and-tie, not all coaches are ready for this new era.

Is it time to go casual?

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While some NBA coaches think it’s time to go casual, others want to preserve tradition in the name of suit-and-tie wearing coaches like Pat Riley, Chuck Daly, and Flip Saunders. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is not quite ready to ditch his suit-and-tie.

Carlisle told reporters, “If I ever [wore a polo outside the Orlando environment], Chuck [Daly] would roll over in his grave.” He explained why he will always be on team suit, saying, “The legacy of guys like Chuck Daly, Pat Riley, Lenny Wilkens — that is a big part of this.”

While coaches like Rick Carlisle, Nick Nurse, Frank Vogel, and Lloyd Pierce remain Team Suit, coaches like Erik Spoelstra, Ryan Saunders, and Steve Nash remain Team Casual. While Team Suit aims to preserve tradition, Team Casual has created a pretty good argument for their case.

The three main arguments for Team Casual are, “It’s much easier to pack polo shirts than suits for road trips; a relaxed dress code makes it easier to run up and down the sidelines yelling out plays; and it’s pretty silly that coaches in gyms have to wear a suit and tie, anyway.” As the new NBA season kicks off, expect to see more coaches sporting polo shirts and sneakers, reports SB Nation. Only time will tell how long Team Suit is able to hold onto a place in the new era of the NBA.