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Iconic Accessories of NBA Stars Past and Present

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2013

Iconic Accessories of NBA Stars Past and Present

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    LeBron James' headband was the star of Game 6 in the NBA Finals, or at least his lack of a headband was. The headwear stir sparked memories of famous accessories through NBA history.

    Starting with George Mikan's eyeglasses and rolling all the way through to LeBron's headband, players have found a way to stick out from the crowd wearing something other than a regulated uniform.

    Time and time again, players come up through the league and make a name for themselves, and whatever accessories they rock end up taking on a life of their own.

    Star players and role players alike have rocked identifying accessories, and they've continually kept it entertaining throughout the years.

Honorable Mentions

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    There are a handful of famous NBA accessories that either deserve mention because of who wore them or because they were such famous accessories.

    Guys like Kurt Rambis with his glasses or Harold Pressley with his strange nose guard deserve mention, but they aren't necessarily "stars" from either the past or the present.

    Beyond that, we had a slew of players wearing Converse Chuck Taylors before there was ever a signature shoe for any individual player.

    Bill Laimbeer wore a facemask, James Worthy (pictured above) and Horace Grant had terrific goggles, and Wilt Chamberlain rocked one of the earliest headbands, as did Slick Watts.

    All that, plus I've always been a big fan of Tim Duncan's customized knee brace.

10. Ben Wallace's Armbands

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    Ben Wallace wasn't great for much offensively other than grabbing offensive rebounds and getting an additional possession for his team, but his amazing defensive efforts far outweighed what he lacked on offense.

    Wallace's impressive physical physique was one of the main reasons he was able to win four Defensive Player of the Year Awards at his peak, despite the fact that he was a solid three or four inches shorter than most of his counterparts.

    Few players had biceps like Wallace, and for a while during the Pistons' peak, Wallace would show off how big they were by rocking armbands around his upper arms.

    The craziest thing is, Wallace's arms stretched those bands out more than Dwight Howard's head did his headband this season. I'm not sure if that says more about how big Wallace's arms are or how small Howard's head is.

9. Dee Brown's Pumps

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    Dee Brown spent most of the 1990s with the Boston Celtics, dunking on opponents' heads and mostly showing off the kind of athleticism that was more prevalent in the 2000s rather than the early '90s.

    After winning the Slam Dunk Contest in 1991, Brown's popularity skyrocketed, and he became an extremely intriguing player.

    He was never a great player but was always a fan favorite when he was throwing down huge dunks and zipping around the court.

    Part of his popularity came from his choice of shoe, as he decided to rock the Reebok Pump for the dunk contest and a good portion of his early days in the NBA.

8. LeBron James' Headband

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    I was never sure just how iconic LeBron James' headband was until Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, when it got knocked off his noggin, but the reaction people had was pretty helpful in determining that.

    Generally, it's hard to figure out where someone falls in line with players throughout history until after he's retired, and the same generally goes with his accessories.

    Sometimes, when a player innovates with a new accessory, like Allen Iverson's shooting sleeve, things fall into place.

    However, it usually takes the majority of a career to figure out whether a player's garb is iconic, such as Rip Hamilton's facemask.

    It seems we've reached that point with LeBron's headband, so he can only go up from here.

7. Patrick Ewing's Knee Pads

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    Patrick Ewing spent his career in the NBA as a larger-than-life figure, constantly falling just short of a title with the New York Knicks.

    It wasn't just Ewing who was larger than life; his knee pads were so big that they were a sideshow, even in the pre-Twitter days.

    Much was made of Ewing's knee pads over his career, not simply because he wore them, but because they were so unbelievably large.

    Seriously, those things were so big that he could play a game for the Knicks on a Sunday afternoon, hang out at Madison Square Garden until later in the day and play goalie for the New York Rangers. All he'd need were some skates and a mask.

6. John Stockton's Short Shorts

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    Generally speaking, shorts or a jersey alone would be considered the bare minimum for a team uniform, but John Stockton's shorts are the exception.

    Not buying into the new wave of extra-baggy shorts that Michael Jordan and the University of Michigan's "Fab Five" brought into the NBA, Stockton stuck with '80s-style short shorts.

    He never went as short as the full-on '60s-era thigh-huggers, but they were definitely north of the knee.

    They have to be considered an accessory just because his short shorts were so out of the ordinary during his later days in the league and eventually became iconic.

5. George Mikan's Glasses

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    There have been times when I've been hit in the face with a basketball while wearing glasses just shooting around. There's a fair amount of pain involved.

    Not only that, but with sweat constantly dripping, bumping into other players and just body parts constantly flying at your face, regular old eyeglasses have to be one of the most bothersome things to have hanging off your face.

    George Mikan spent his seven years of professional basketball wearing those annoying things, and he won five championships in the process.

    Since his retirement, Mikan's glasses have been iconic, and even symbolic of the early days in the NBA.

4. Dennis Rodman's Head

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    Dennis Rodman transcended simply adding headbands, sleeves or pads to accessorize. He just made himself an accessory.

    Whether it be piercings, outlandish outfits or goofy sunglasses, Rodman off the court was constantly accessorizing.

    However, on the court he had to take out the studs and rings, so he looked for other ways to accent his boring old Chicago Bulls uniform.

    Of course, his decision was to color his hair eight days a week, always varying the patterns, styles and designs he embedded into his noggin.

3. Kareem's Goggles

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    Whenever we take a look back at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's career, it can be split into two different categories: pre-goggles and post-goggles.

    Conveniently enough, Kareem started wearing goggles permanently when he went to Los Angeles, although he did wear them from time to time with the Milwaukee Bucks and in college to protect his eyes after various injuries.

    In the final regular-season game of his career, the rest of the Lakers put on Kareem-style goggles, a few of them even playing in them, and most of them attempted their very own skyhook at some point. Oh, and the Lakers won.

    Nearly 25 years later, Kareem is still remembered for his skyhooks, all the points he scored and those goofy goggles.

2. Allen Iverson's Shooting Sleeve

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    Prior to Allen Iverson, it was rare to see more than just an elbow pad or a wristband on a basketball player's arm.

    After Iverson came into the league, started dominating and grabbed the eyes of every college and high school basketball player in the country, shooting sleeves started popping up left and right.

    Some say they increase blood flow, keep your arm loose and obviously help you shoot, but once again, it seems like a personal preference kind of thing.

    As far as Iverson is concerned, if there's any legacy he's left beyond what he did on the court, it's popularizing that goofy-looking shooting sleeve and helping them spread around the world like crazy.

1. Rip Hamilton's Facemask

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    Guys have worn the facemask before Richard Hamilton came into the NBA, and they'll wear it long after he retires, but nobody is ever going to have a more iconic look than Hamilton and his glossy face.

    It may be hard to remember, but Hamilton didn't always wear the mask. He broke his nose in 2002 and then twice in Detroit's championship season of 2003-04, so he just kept wearing it from then on out.

    The facemask was an extra precaution for Hamilton, whose nose broke as often as Samuel L. Jackson's bones in Unbreakable, but it became so much more than that.

    Eventually, you would see fans wearing their own version of Rip's facemask in the stands, and it became synonymous with his name.

    That mask, the black straps, the headband and the process he went through every time he had to check into a game will all be a part of his legacy, even if it is pretty meaningless to what he did on the court.

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