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Allen Iverson says he was bothered by NBA dress code, felt league was ‘picking on’ him

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And he’s probably right.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Championship Game-Villanova vs North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Allen Iverson wasn’t the only player rocking outrageous gear in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, but of his contemporaries he took the most heat for carrying himself the way he did. Everything from the iconic cornrows to his love for baggy throwback gear got the 76ers’ star criticized; this is the guy who was once called the NBA’s “thug-in-chief.

As part of a Nice Kicks retrospective on his landmark sneaker deal with Reebok, Iverson and a cast of associates talked about the NBA’s dress code, which felt like it was directed at Iverson when it was implemented and increasingly feels that way now. The Answer says he felt like a target at the time, and that feeling has only strengthened since.

I was bothered by it, because I felt like they were targeting people that dressed like me. All of the young guys in my generation were starting to feel like, “Well damn, you know, he dress like how he want, and he alright. We been wanting to dress like how we want, but we just felt like we couldn’t.” I think it should be a dress code now. They made a big deal when I was doing it, but some of the stuff these dudes are wearing? [laughs] Come on man. They were picking on me, obviously, if they let these guys wear what they wear now.

The man has a point regarding some of today’s stars. Not to pick on Russell Westbrook—okay, sort of picking on Russell Westbrook—but look at some of the things he has worn to games within the last couple years.

It’s not clear when it happened, but the NBA realized it was a better choice to let their players have some freedom and not worry about a tone-deaf policy to appease people who never really embraced the league to begin with. And that’s a good thing! Letting these guys show a different side of their personality through their fashion harms no one, aside from crotchety old fogies and people with more insidious agendas on their mind.

Iverson may have had to deal with being the league’s target, but the younger guys are better off for it, which he says he’s happy about today.

Everybody can’t be the same. That’s why fans love certain people and different guys in sports. They have their own originality. If everybody was the same, you would like every player and everything. Wouldn’t no player stand out. It was bittersweet, and I’m happy I took the beating for it.

You can read a whole lot more on Iverson and the behind-the-scenes stuff at Reebok here.