CHICAGO — The red hot Chicago Bulls are 3-0, and the team's players are also stepping up their accessories game.
Rajon Rondo and Bobby Portis are sporting headbands in games this year despite the Bulls' longtime headband ban.
The rule reportedly "emanated" from Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and goes back at least a decade, to the days when Scott Skiles was coach. The rule was also championed by top Bulls executive John Paxson "when he took over and wanted to restore an image sullied by players like Eddie Robinson," according to the Tribune.
The headband ban somewhat stymied Ben Wallace and other former Bulls during their time in Chicago, but now, those days seem to be in the past:
Yes. Portis has one too. Tweeted that during preseason. https://t.co/NO30UrMPA8— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) October 31, 2016
A Bulls spokesman did not return a message seeking comment.
Rondo, a new addition to the Bulls, has worn a headband on-and-off since he entered the NBA in 2006. He's eschewed headbands for some games, most famously in 2010 after the NBA banned upside-down headbands. One study shows Rondo plays better while wearing a headband.
Portis, meanwhile, wore a headband during his illustrious college career at Arkansas. He ditched the headband upon his arrival to the Bulls, but is back wearing one now:
Portis checking into Monday's game against the Brooklyn Nets. [Comcast SportsNet Chicago]
The Bulls' headband ban was most visible in 2006, when Skiles benched Wallace — then a prized free agent pickup for the Bulls — for defiantly wearing a headband to start both halves of a game against the New York Knicks. Skiles yanked Wallace immediately and didn't let him return to the court afterward.
Wallace later reportedly said "I'm man enough to take the punishment. But I'm not sorry."
The headband debate re-emerged in 2011 when the Bulls signed Richard "Rip" Hamilton, who was allowed to wear a headband to secure his signature protective mask.
Rondo and Portis appear to have won their cases this preseason:
Rajon Rondo is wearing signature headband. Bulls, per Jerry Reinsdorf, have typically frowned upon that look. Guessing Rondo asked/cleared— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) October 6, 2016
Bobby Portis is joining Rajon Rondo in headband land this evening.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) October 20, 2016
But now it's the regular season, and these games count.
(Apparently) dropping the headband ban is far from the most exciting change the Bulls have made this year, but the move raises the question why the team had a ban in the first place. LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, two of the Bulls' most recent marquee free agent pursuits, have worn headbands in their careers.
The Bulls continue their season Wednesday night in Boston against the Celtics.
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