NBA Won't Allow 'Ninja-Style Headwear' to Be Worn by Players During Games

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistSeptember 9, 2019

Philadelphia 76ers' Jimmy Butler (23) and Mike Scott (1) in action during an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Thursday, March 28, 2019, in Philadelphia. The 76ers won 123-110. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Michael Perez/Associated Press

The NBA will no longer allow players to wear the "ninja-style" headbands that some players wore last season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

The NBA notified teams that it won't allow players to wear "ninja-style headwear" this season, NBA spokesman Mike Bass tells ESPN. The headwear "...hasn't been through the league approval process. Teams have raised concerns regarding safety and consistency of size, length ..."

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Competition Committee is discussing issue in meetings today. As Bass said, teams raised concern about size, length "how they are tied which requires a thorough review before consideration of any rule change." Among players who wore them: Jimmy Butler, Jrue Holiday, Jarrett Allen. https://t.co/Agak7SLS9V

There was a prevailing theory as to why the NBA might be taking such a stance on an otherwise innocuous piece of gear:

Dan Devine @YourManDevine

I wonder if these eventually make a comeback once there are swooshes and/or NBA logos on them. https://t.co/h9sadbC8mQ

Kurt Helin @basketballtalk

Translated: Nike didn't officially make and market these yet, so we need to wait for them to catch up. https://t.co/kZXzHAgMCe

Jeff Siegel @jgsiegel

By successfully lobbying the NBA that headbands are part of the uniform, Nike will now be able to develop and sell their own ninja headbands and players who want to wear them will have to wear Nike’s.

Bill DiFilippo @billdifilippo

that nba bandana thing seems like something that’ll get changed the second nike realizes it can just put a swoosh on a piece of cloth and sell them

Dieter Kurtenbach @dieter

Nike hated the ninja headband because it often didn’t have their logo on it. That’s it. https://t.co/kIKBpr7eex

Suffice to say, this ban on the "ninja-style headwear" was met with bemusement around the NBA world.

"I love that someone at the nba had to type the words 'ninja-style headwear' and 'consistency of size and length' as their job today," Detroit Pistons star Blake Griffin tweeted.

He wasn't alone:

Dan Favale @danfavale

the NBA’s All Ninja Headband Team just cuz: G: De’Aaron Fox G: Jrue Holiday F: Jimmy Butler F: LeBron James* C: Montrezl Harrell https://t.co/M8DdSk3Odb

Russillo @ryenarussillo

What does this say about how the NBA feels about ninjas?

Oruny @OrunyChoi

They really couldn’t describe “ninja-style headwear” any other way. 😂 https://t.co/c4tInm6wI5

Andrew Sharp @andrewsharp

What the world needs now more than ever is for De’Aaron Fox to lead the ninja headband insurgency

As controversies go around the NBA, this one is pretty mild. But enough players wore their headbands in the aforementioned "ninja style" that there could be some pushback from the players regarding this ruling. It seems like a pretty big stretch to consider them as a safety hazard of any kind, as the NBA has posited. 

It seems like less of a stretch that Nike and the NBA might want to ensure that NBA players are wearing headbands with official branding and logos on them, or not turning headbands with that branding inside out. 

So this is probably a story that will evolve as the NBA season nears. In other words, we may not have heard the last of the "ninja-style headwear."