Fashion on NBA Draft night is more subdued

Thu, Jun 24

There are people in this country -- a lot of people -- that watch the NBA Draft and don't care a lick about the potential of the players or whether the squads are drafting for need versus talent.

They watch for the fashion spectacle. It's sorta like an NBA tradition -- watching the draft to catch a glimpse of a bunch of clown suits parading across the stage to shake David Stern's hand and then heckle them.

Problem is, if that's your deal, the past few draft nights probably haven't been much fun. The geechy, 28-button, barely-a-lapel pimp suits have given way to much chicer and, at times, even understated attire.

When and why? Well, before we get to that, let's take a moment to consider how the NBA draft became a fashion (or lack thereof) event in the first place.

The NBA Draft became a popular event in the early 1990s, coinciding with the ever increasing popularity of the league itself. By the time we hit 1992 -- when huge collegiate stars Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Christian Laettner were all drafted -- there wasn't just a big national audience for the draft, players were also signing lucrative endorsement deals and taking out expensive pre-Draft insurance policies that effective made them rich before they were even drafted. So the JC Penney specials that Karl Malone or Charles Barkley rocked their draft nights in the '80s, gave way to expensive, tailored threads. Soon, this gave way to dressing like, well, Bishop Magic Don Juan or Steve Harvey.

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