Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

Thomas Kim

Reader 2

Mar Golub

Rights Information

© 2023 Avalon R. Brice


In 2005, previous NBA Commissioner David Stern instituted a business casual dress code prior to the 2005-2006 basketball season. At the time of the dress code’s introduction, players in the League had found great inspiration from the vibrant Hip-Hop culture that was taking the nation by storm. Hip-Hop culture was in the veins of the NBA, until 2004 when what became dubbed the Malice in the Palace took place during a Detroit Pistons game. This altercation put the NBA under national scrutiny and forced them to make some changes. The NBA had an image problem and they panicked about an increasing downward spiral with the rising popularity of Allen Iverson and Hip-Hop culture. They felt they had to do something about it, so NBA executives instituted the dress code. In this paper, I will investigate how the NBA used fashion to further commodify Black bodies and in response Black athletes resisted and used their fashion to find Black Joy. In doing so I work to create a theoretical connection between Black bodies in the afterlives of slavery and how, in order to survive, they used certain daily acts as forms of resistance. Through my literature and theoretical research, I found that to increase profits, the NBA attempted to make Black athletes more palatable to white audiences through the removal of Hip-Hop culture and fashion from the League. Therefore, Black athletes used fashion to express their Black identity and find Black Joy when the white NBA executives were actively trying to erase their personal identity.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.