As NBA players arrive at games during resumed play in Orlando, they will now have the freedom to wear clothing from their own wardrobe while walking from the team bus to the venue's locker rooms, according to a league spokesperson.
Initially, a protocol finalized last week required players to fully dress for games in their hotel rooms and "be in uniform and warmups when they arrive" to the game venue, as reported by ESPN on Sunday and confirmed by the league Monday.
"Considering the unique environment on the NBA Disney campus and warmer weather conditions, a different policy was put in place for players' arrival and entry into the arenas," a league spokesperson told ESPN on Monday.
Players may also still dress in full uniform and warm-ups, should they decide to, at their respective hotel rooms at the trio of designated resorts at Walt Disney World. Each team will board a socially distanced team bus with gapped rows for an expected 15-minute drive to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and HP Field House's primary game court.
The return of the oft-highlighted nightly "tunnel walk" is expected to be welcome news to both players and fans alike, who were disappointed by the potential lack of an arrival fashion scene. Several players were uncertain about the game arrival process when packing last week for an extended stay in Orlando, and some brought a deep rotation of clothes, sneakers and accessories, just in case.
Players can now wear a variety of "relaxed" items from their own wardrobes upon arrival that are "clean and neat in appearance," including presentable shorts. However, players not in uniform at games must be wearing pants while seated on the bench.
While the players can now arrive in their own clothing, the team locker rooms on-site are not equipped with showers. There is an expectation that, after games, players may now prefer to switch out of their sweaty uniforms into "appropriate team-identified apparel" to head back onto the bus while carrying their pregame outfits in a duffel bag.
Players will have to shower at their hotel rooms, with the schedule outline calling for team buses to depart the venue 40 minutes after each game. Photographers will be waiting as players disembark from each team bus.
While a bit of a more complicated process than usual, players have long appreciated the freedom to express themselves through their at-times eccentric, unique and daring pregame fashion choices. Russell Westbrook, P.J. Tucker, Kyle Kuzma, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are among many players who use arena-entry fashion coverage to grow their marketing profiles.
As it stands, the growing trend of pregame off-court style coverage is here to stay. "No matter what, I will be ready," said Gilgeous-Alexander. "Tunnel, no tunnel, I'll do my thing."
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