10 Pieces of Trending Jewelry Worn by NBA Legends

It all began with a stylish gold necklace and a slim gold hoop in Michael Jordan’s ear and ended with Allen Iverson’s chains and a bold street style that made the NBA slam down on the dress code restrictions. In 2005, the NBA mandated a specific expectation in terms of what players could wear, on and off the court. 

It isn’t practical for athletes to wear any kind of jewelry on the courts, as it was shown to be a considerable impediment for gameplay. But off-court, NBA legends have been known to show off their style with diamond studs and the latest Rolex watches for men. No one will forget when Jordan upped the ante by putting on his gold chain or when Dawkins almost brought the house down with his pendants. Nowadays, the NBA’s jewelry game is a lot more class than sass, and today’s players wear their wealth well. 

Dress Code and Chain Bans

The 1980 ban on gold chains, followed by the 2005 dress code mandate, definitely threw a wrench in fusing NBA style with the fashion world. Darryl Dawkins, otherwise known as Chocolate Thunder, loved the look of layered chains with pendants and even wore them during game time. 

Due to rightful concerns about chains catching fingers, injuring eyes, or worse, the NBA banned them during gameplay in 1980. Players adjusted, however, as many issues were about player safety and started showing their style more off-court. They found an outlet in what became known as the concrete runway – or the tunnel that leads to the players’ locker room – and dressed to the nines to arrive at each game. 

When Allen Iverson and his posse hit the scene, the NBA felt that a dress code was necessary to rein in their players’ extravagant styles. The players weren’t thrilled. Since then, some restrictions have loosened, and players have found many outlets to express their style. From Jordan’s ear hoop to Draymond Green’s lapel brooch, here are ten of the most unforgettable players to ever grace the courts and some of the gorgeous jewelry they wore while forging their legendary status. 

1. Michael Jordan’s Hoops

One could say that the pairing of the fashion world and the NBA world began with Michael Jordan. His defiance against the NBA mandates by wearing off-brand shoes started the rupture that would only fully see completion when the dress code came slamming down in 2005. Along with Air Jordans on his feet and longer shorts, Michael Jordan often sported a slim gold hoop in one ear or a simple golden chain, the epitome of sophisticated sport style. He was never ostentatious in his adornment choices, much like his tight maneuvering on the basketball court; every choice he made had a reasoned economy and stylish genius.

michael jordan wearing hoops

2. Darryl Dawkins’s Pendants

Those that saw “Chocolate Thunder '' and the gorgeous bling around his neck during his time on the court can understand why the NBA had to outlaw chains for athletes – they just got in the way. Since Michael Jordan, gold chains for men were considered cool and, next, Darryl Dawkins made layering your chains the thing to do. The NBA finally had to step in and lay down the law, as the amount of bling showing up on court was becoming a hindrance to the game and, more importantly, a safety issue for the players. 

3. Dennis Rodman’s Piercings

If there was ever a style icon in the NBA, it was Dennis Rodman. In his non-traditional hair colors and multiple piercings, Rodman broke every fashion rule in the book. Along with some magnificent off-court costume choices, he sported multiple piercings in his lip, eyebrows, nostrils, and ears. Many of his studs had jewels, either smaller ones set in designs or one large rock.  

Though Rodman was always taking chances, he still managed to look great while doing so, even when he wore that gorgeous wedding dress. The quality that many NBA players have to have to succeed in the game is confidence, and Dennis Rodman, especially when it came to his fashion sense, had confidence oozing out his pores and piercings. 

4. Allen Iverson’s Street Style Bling

The player who paved the way to the 2005 NBA dress code was Allen Iverson. Straight outta Hampton, Virginia, Iverson was a fan of over-the-top displays of wealth and status, with multiple chains and heavy pendants encrusted with bling. A lot of players balk at the 2005 restrictions, claiming it unfairly targets individual players over others. The dress code mandate restricts wearing chains outside your clothes because, apparently, they are highly noticeable and shiny. But that’s the whole point. The look of chains is polished, bold, and confident, so tucking them inside your shirt ruins the effect.

Allen Iversons Street Style Bling

The marvelous thing about Allen Iverson – other than his speed and dexterity on the court – is that he couldn’t care less when it comes to others telling him how to act. He followed the dress code as other players did if they wanted to play ball. But, from his stance and jewelry choices, you could tell what he really thought about the dress code, as many believed it unfairly targeted some players’ off-court style.

5. Stephen Curry's Luxury Watches

For a lot of young fans, Stephen Curry is the epitome of style. He leans toward more elegant, subtler accessories than some of his compatriots, but he is very fond of his luxury watches, and he knows how to wear them well. Curry has some enviable championship rings in his collection. Still, when he opts for a design of his choosing, he wears understated watches from high-end watchmakers like Rolex, often pairing them with a leather band instead of a metal one for a laid-back look.

One pro tip from Curry’s wardrobe and jewelry choices is matching your watch to the outfit and the event. Much like his impeccable timing and instinct on-court, he also knows which types of events warrant a formal, blingy watch like in his wedding pics, and which are more casual like a leather-strapped Rolex for watching the game.

6. Ron Artest’s Iced-Out Chains

This player has always lived on the fringe. Artest is not afraid to express his personality and passion. Whether it’s about the side effects of ignoring one’s mental health or announcing his latest name change, this time from Metta World Peace to Metta Ford-Artest, Metta is not one to shy away from a fight. He also is brash about his style choices. He is never really the player that you’ll see heading out to brunch in a tailored suit, as his clothes often lean toward street style. 

One thing you will often see on Artest is his iced out chains. Encrusted with diamonds, these gorgeous chains, inlaid with gems, are a perfect accessory if your style is more urban. 

7. James Harden’s Medallions

It’s no secret that James Harden has an impressive and enviable jewelry collection. He often makes the arena entrances his own concrete runway, with great style and jewelry choices. Even when faced with haters, Harden continues to make bold choices with jewelry and clothing like his contemporary indoor raincoat look.

James Hardens Medallions

But one thing that even the haters cannot deny is that James Harden has fashion sense to spare and the confidence to wear it with grace and, sometimes, with a sentimental overtone. Harden sometimes sports a gorgeous diamond-encrusted medallion with the visage of his favorite rapper Nipsey Hussle, adopting it  as a tribute soon after Hussle died in 2019. Whatever choice he’s making, sentimental or bold, Harden wears it with oversized confidence that is only matched by his bravado on the court. Blend classic and contemporary with high-end watches and oversized pendants for a similar look to Harden.

8. Shaquille O’Neal’s Rings

Shaq is one of the Greats, and he likes his jewelry big and bold as well. Often sporting diamond-encrusted rings, O’Neal typically opts for smaller gems set into a wider surface area, making the ring a lot more sparkly. Of course, Shaq also has a fair number of championship rings to wear if he gets tired of his personal collection. But with an impressive array of statement rings and plain bands, Shaq knows how to flaunt his street style suavely.

9. Russell Westbrook’s Monogrammed Pendant

If you’ve ever caught a glance at Russell Westbrook’s street style, you may have noticed one of his all-time favorite accessories: a large, diamond-encrusted W that he wears on a gorgeous chain. Many sports enthusiasts applaud Westbrook’s cyclonic nature on-court; they call him a force of nature, and you’re either with him or against him. He uses this same audacity off the court, as well, whether he’s sporting gold-framed glasses or his blinged-out monogram. It doesn’t matter if you’re for his bold choices or against them in his role as a point guard or strutting the concrete runway; either way, you can’t doubt Westbrook’s singular style, whether on the court or off of it. 

Russell Westbrooks Monogrammed Pendant

10. Draymond Green's Brooches

When you see one of Draymond Green’s brooches, you won’t forget them. Like Green’s explosive playing style and ability to switch between an offensive onslaught to a stifling defense in a moment, his sparkly lapel pins make a statement not easily forgotten. Like his technique on-court, his off-court manner is decisive, and he can seemingly wear just about anything and make it look good. 

Stand-outs on his outfits are the bejeweled brooches he often affixes to his suit jackets’ lapels, sometimes with a simple tee underneath. Green favors a Chanel brooch, with the interlocking Cs encrusted with black and white gems, or a Yves Saint Laurent pin in all gold. To wear a similar look, make sure your lapel pin’s weight doesn’t pull at your suit jacket’s fabric. Like a tweed, denim, or corduroy, a stiffer material can help balance out and support a gold and diamond brooch’s weight. Personalize it if you don’t want to rep a fashion brand, with your monogram or your name’s first letter. Any way you wear it, it’s sure to catch looks wherever you go. 

Essential Pieces to Create an NBA-Star-Worthy Jewelry Collection

If you want to mimic your favorite baller’s off-court looks, you can augment your jewelry collection with a few key pieces that will bling you out in high style. Think about the various places where you can wear jewelry – neck, ears, wrists, and fingers. Invest in a foundational piece for each location where you would typically wear jewelry comfortably. In other words, if you don’t naturally like studs in your ears, don’t force yourself to adopt the accessory. 

A chain with ice or no ice, an in-line diamond bracelet – otherwise known as a tennis bracelet, some diamond studs, a pendant with your favorite artist or monogram, or a brooch for your lapel are all NBA-star-approved styles. A high-end watch like a Rolex and a gold chain are great pieces to start with as they are durable, versatile, and hold their value well, should you ever want to sell them. If you want to look as if you could walk the runway with the best of them, you can try layering your chains. Think about length, style – whether it’s chunky or lies flat on your collarbone, and whether or not you’d prefer a pendant as a focal point. 

large diamond pendant on chain

Wrapping It Up

Many NBA players don’t need much help being cool; these players are already the best of the best on the court. And with memorable jewelry choices, many ballers, from Jordan to Iverson to Russell Westbrook, bring their A-game to off-court looks as well.

Many of these NBA legends’ styles tend toward extravagant and classic. From stackable diamond rings to sparkly piercings, to layered gold chains, NBA stars know how powerful a well-chosen piece of bling can be. Explore the huge range of solid gold jewelry at Frost NYC, or call us to discuss custom options so you can flaunt your bling like your favorite baller.

Image Credits

Derevyankina Ludmila/shutterstock.com


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March 26, 2021

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