Supreme Vs. The NBA: A Complicated Relationship

Ever since Supreme bust on the scene, the public has jumped at the chance to get anything they can with the iconic box logo on it, whether it be a shirt or a crowbar. NBA players are no different.

What started as a skateboarding brand has become an undeniable symbol of style and status worn by athletes who probably couldn’t skateboard to save their contracts.

The result is an unstoppable brand pushing iconic fashion that attracts public figures and their fans by the millions.

While you and I are free to dress in as much Supreme as our paychecks allow, NBA players can’t say the same. At least when they’re on the clock.

Ever since the arrival of Allen Iverson into the public eye, the NBA has been weary of what it’s players are rocking to games.

The league actually went full authoritarian in the David Stern era, passing some lowkey racist rules to specifically prevent Iverson from dressing the way he had his whole life when walking in to an arena.

In a roundabout way, out of fear of alienating white customers, the NBA, which is now known as The Wokest League of Them All, decided sweatpants was inappropriate gear to wear before a basketball game… instead forcing guys to wear collars.

Now, remember, basketball players have literal uniforms already…to play basketball. Not to do taxes or go to an office setting, but whatever.

Thankfully, Iverson paved the path for future NBA trendsetters by bucking the trend and essentially wearing whatever he wanted to games, dress code be damned.

But XXL T-shirts and angled snapbacks are in the past. Instead, they have been replaced by the latest fashion brands.

And of these brands, which one reigns supreme (hint, hint)? Well, we’ll give the edge to the one that is so beloved that J.R. Smith got it tatted on his right leg. That’s right, Supreme.

Lakers, JR Smith

Smith’s leg tattoo wasn’t the first time a player publicly repped the outrageously popular street brand on the court.

Before he even got the tattoo, Smith used a Supreme shooting sleeve in a game against the Lakers. While the league didn’t fine him, he was reprimanded and told to not wear it again.

Kelly Oubre Jr. faced similar repercussions. After the former Wizards forward rocked a Supreme sleeve on his leg, he was forced to remove it at half time. Oubre was confused, as the sleeve had the NBA logo on it. But the league wouldn’t stand for such blatant advertisement of a company it had no deal with.

To put it bluntly: If the NBA’s hands weren’t directly connected to another company’s pocketbooks, you can’t rock that gear without the league hurling down the hammer like Thor.

Back to Swish’s tattoo. How would the NBA cover up the ink from public eye?

Basically, the league told Smith that covering the tattoo was his responsibility, with either long socks or taping down fabric to it. If it were visible, Smith would be hit with a fine.

This crackdown would not keep NBA players from their beloved brand, however. If anything, it increased its popularity. After all, rebelling against authority is appealing to both brands and those who want to buy in to them.

PJ Tucker, a well-documented sneakerhead in the NBA community, is also an avid Supreme fan. By his own account, Tucker fell in love with the brand when he was playing abroad and saw American tourists wearing the iconic box logo. Now, it’s not just Supreme sneakers he owns, but all kinds of apparel.

When Tucker returned to play with the Phoenix Suns, his love for the brand transferred to some of his teammates.

Devin Booker is frequently pictured wearing Supreme gear.

Derrick Jones Jr., who played alongside Tucker for one year, wore Supreme on the brightest stage of his young career. He rocked the Supreme Nike collab shoes while participating in the 2017 Dunk Contest.

Name after name has been converted to the Supreme cause. There’s enough guys donning the brand’s gear we can create a fictitious, not at all D.C. based “Supreme Court”

Get it?

Nick Young, the Swaggy one himself, actually wore a pair of Supreme shoes in game while with the Lakers.

Speaking of former Lakers, Jordan Clarkson and Brandon Ingram have also been pictured wearing Supreme’s clothing. If you are young, wealthy, and live in Los Angeles, chances are you own at least one piece of Supreme clothing.

It should be noted that there is an emphasis on the “wealthy” part. It’s not cheap to rep the Supreme brand.

Let’s say you want to look like the pros do, and follow in J.R. Smith’s footsteps.

Between a Supreme jersey, shooting sleeve, and shorts, you’ll be paying north of 500 dollars. That’s no easy feat when you’re balling on a budget.

Also, if you just so happen to be a semi-responsible adult because that’s two (bleeping) car payments!

But for now, Supreme only continues to grow, as more players fall in love with their gear. A simple brand that was marketed towards guys who spent most of their time in skate-parks has now conquered a new audience that makes their living on the basketball court.

Funny how that works.

Damian Lillard, Blazers

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