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The story behind the Chicago Bulls banning headbands

The bizarre reason behind the Bulls banning their players from wearing headbands for over 10 years. Still, a few guys broke the rules.
Ben Wallace and Eddie Robinson during their time with the Bulls

Ben Wallace and Eddie Robinson during their time with the Bulls

Headbands are maybe a simple accessory, but in the NBA world, it has a role in the identity of numerous players throughout history. I mean, who can imagine the likes of a young LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Josh Smith, Paul Pierce, Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace, and many more without their headbands. It serves the purpose of keeping sweat out of the eyes, but most of the players wore it because of the look, and it created an identity for those guys. But there was a time when a team banned their players from wearing headbands for 12 long years. That team was the Chicago Bulls.

Paxson's pettiness

From 2004 to 2016, the Bulls didn't allow any of their players to wear headbands during games. The story of how that rule came into place is pretty bizarre. It all happened because of a player most NBA fans won't remember, named Eddie Robinson. The undrafted forward eventually made his way to the Bulls in 2001, playing there for three seasons as a role player off the bench.

Robinson had a lousy attitude, often getting into clashes with coaches and the front office. Every summer, Robinson would relax in the Bahamas, ignoring calls from the team instead of working on his game. That poor work ethic caused a beef between Robinson and the Bulls VP John Paxson. That would lead to him instituting the rule of no headbands, simply because Robinson always played with one. Paxson felt that would restore the team's image. Banning headbands on the team because of a clash with a relatively unknown player seemed like a pretty petty move from Paxson.

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Robinson would play his last season in the league in 2004, before retiring but more because of injuries than the headband ban. But the headband ban was in place until the 2016-2017 season when Rajon Rondo and Bobby Portis wore them on a regular basis. Still, that was a 12-year period in which no players on the Bulls had the freedom to wear headbands. Only two guys defied the law at that time.

Ben Wallace's problems with the Bulls

We all know how notorious Ben Wallace's look was. The muscles, the accessories, the afro, and of course, the headband. So when the Bulls signed Ben in 2006, Wallace didn't realize how serious the Bulls were about their ban. It brought him into arguments and back and forth battles with coach Scott Skiles, even getting benched at times. But in the end, Wallace would give in and listen to the team, playing the rest of the 2007 season without his notorious look.

Next season they would repay him, allowing him to play with a headband, but only to be traded mid-season to the Cavs. It probably had nothing to do with the headband situation, but it's humorous to imagine that was the reason. The other player to play through the ban was another former Detroit Pistons player, Rip Hamilton. Known for his face mask and headband, Rip signed with the Bulls in 2011 and stayed true to his image without too much trouble with the Bulls management.

In the end, the ban officially ended in 2016, and now players like Alex Caruso are free to wear whatever they want on their heads while playing for the Bulls. A lot of players argued, and even the Players Union talked about the topic of this ban, as it was implied that certain players put on the headband as a part of their ritual or pregame preparation. Forcing the change could actually mess up their game. Although it sounds ridiculous, it has some logic. Nevertheless, you have to admit that the Bulls banning headbands is one of the most unique and weirdest rules ever implied in the NBA.

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