Reason Why NBA Players Wear Headbands | Who & Why The Wear Them

Players Wear Headbands

The National Basketball Association has been in sports history for over 70 years now, and many players have left their mark on the league forever.

Throughout the years, it has always been a game with a certain level of flair, from which came many fashion influences. One of the most iconic and practical trends is the use of headbands.

Why do NBA players wear headbands? Many NBA players have been using different kinds of headbands to absorb their sweat to not go into their eyes. It is crucial to have clear sight, especially if you are playing basketball.

This article will help you understand why most NBA players prefer to wear headbands. You will also learn about prominent players who started this trend throughout the history of the NBA.

The Purpose of Wearing Headbands

The short answer behind wearing headbands on the court is to absorb sweat. NBA players are on the court for at least an hour.

They are also constantly doing a lot of movement, such as running, jumping, and shuffling their feet. As a result, they sweat a lot, and this is where headbands come in handy.

The headband’s primary purpose is to get rid of sweat, not get into the player’s eyes. Also, NBA players wear headbands for fashion purposes and try to market their sponsor brands.

For instance, players wore the ninja headbands that were popular during the 2018- 2019 season.

Headbands are also referred to as sweatbands. Different players have worn different types of headbands throughout the decades, from thin headbands to ninja headbands.

Origin of Headbands and What They Are Made Of

The beginning of headbands can be tracked to as early as 400 B.C. during the Ancient Greek era. The Greeks wore many hair wreaths for special ceremonies, and early forms of headbands were used for special occasions.

They were also used to help with ailments. For instance, in the late 1900s, headbands were useful when it came to treating headaches.

Most headbands that have been advertised by many NBA players are made of terry cloth, which is good for sweat absorption. It is sometimes made out of cotton, though some brands have a combination of nylon and polyester.

Notable Players Who Wore Headbands

When it comes to the first player who wore a headband, they were popularized by Wilt Chamberlain. He was among the greatest players in NBA history—a center who dominated the game of basketball.

He was a two-time NBA champion who holds numerous records for scoring and rebounding. He was best known for scoring over 100 points in a single game.

The headband that was used by Wilt back in the 1970s did not look like the ones NBA players have today. In fact, his headband was thick in the front but very thin in the back.

It was most likely designed to be that way to allow the material to absorb sweat. Wilt was the first-ever player to wear a headband on the court. Wearing a headband was groundbreaking at the time because it was not common in the NBA.

Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a basketball player known for his time at UCLA, where he led the Bruins to two NCAA championships in 1972 and 1973.

Walton came into the NBA with full-on foot injuries, so he did not have the same success in the NBA as he did in college.

He could still get a successful NBA career with two championships: one with the Portland Trailblazers and the other one with the Boston Celtics.

The most important contribution he made in the NBA was to help popularize the headband in the 1970s. His headband resembled more of a bandana, and he wore it on one side of his head. It suited him because he had long hair, so he wore it mainly for fashion sense.

Donald “Slick” Watts

Donald Earl “Slick” Watts was one of the top players in the 1970s who helped make the headband popular. He’s known as an undrafted player who signed with the Seattle Supersonics as a free agent.

His well-known accomplishment is being the first player to lead the NBA in steals and assists in the 1975-1976 season.

You may be wondering why he was given the title “Slick.” It’s because of his completely shaved head, which was not common at the time.

He also stood out with the way he wore his headband. He usually wore it tilted and sideways, making it a fashionable accessory during the 70s.

Allen Iverson

Who is not familiar with a big household name like Allen Iverson? He is an 11-time NBA All-Star and was MVP back in 2001. He led the Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA finals in his MVP year back in 2001.

Also, he is one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history despite being only six feet tall. Allen Iverson is one of the most influential basketball players, including from a fashion standpoint, as he is responsible for many trends and styles in NBA history.

He made wearing tattoos very popular, as they were uncommon at the time for many basketball players. He made weaning an arm sleeve popular as well.

Many NBA players share their admiration for Iverson because of how he freely expressed himself. He also paved the way for other players to express themselves, and he renewed interest in wearing a headband in the early 2000s.

Iverson set a trend of striped headbands in the NBA. The striped headbands that he wore were aesthetically pleasing, along with his signature cornrows. Iverson has made a big impact on basketball culture, especially when it comes to the use of headbands.

Ben Wallace

Ben Wallace went undrafted back in 1996, and he is best-known for playing for the Detroit Pistons. Aside from that, he won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year four times and even played a key role in helping the Detroit Pistons win their championship back in 2004.

Wallace is a big guy who sweats a lot during his playing days. That was why he wore a headband. In addition to that, the headband helped him keep his Afro in place. He was one of the only basketball players to pull off an Afro hairstyle with the headband so well.

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo is a four-time NBA All-Star who led the league in assists back in 2012, 2013, and 2016. He is well known for playing with the Boston Celtics and helping them win a championship back in 2008.

Rondo is one of the top players who led the trend of wearing a headband upside down. He has been doing that for many years.

The main reason for this is probably because many players are superstitious. It is possible that Rondo felt that he performed better with the headband upside down.

NBA players have been doing this for many years, and they are free to express themselves however they want. Still, Rondo and other players wearing an upside-down headband was an issue for the league.

David Stern, who was an NBA commissioner at the time, banned upside-down headbands because they displayed the NBA logo upside down, which he regarded as illegal.

Lebron James

Lebron James is among the greatest NBA players of all time. He is a three-time NBA champion, with two championships in Miami and one in Cleveland.

He is also a four-time NBA MVP and has dominated the league for many years because Lebron is one of the most popular players in all of NBA history, many of the things he does and wears bring about a lot of jokes and scrutiny.

Lebron has worn a headband for most of his career. A lot of people believe that Lebron wears his headband to hide a receding hairline. Whatever the reason is, Lebron has made the headband very fashionable.


The use of headbands on the basketball court has evolved many times throughout NBA history. NBA players usually wear them to absorb sweat, but they also wear them for fashion purposes and to advertise for the team they are playing on. Headbands allow them to express themselves without trying too hard to show some personality.

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