NBA coaches attire: Masks are in, jackets are optional

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FILE - In this Aug. 2, 2020, file photo, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich reacts during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. For NBA coaches, masks are required this season. Jackets are not. Rules for coaching attire will be relaxed by the league this year, though not as much as was the case during play at the bubble at Walt Disney World this past summer. Suit jackets or sport coats will not be required but coaches wont be able to wear the short-sleeved shirts that most donned for games in the bubble, either. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool, File)

MIAMI – For NBA coaches, masks are required this season. Jackets are not.

Rules for coaching attire will be relaxed by the league this year, though not as much as was the case during play at the bubble at Walt Disney World this past summer. Suit jackets or sport coats will not be required — as was the case in the bubble, when most coaches wore polo shirts and many said they preferred that option.

The new league mandate, as detailed in a memo sent to coaches Sunday and obtained by The Associated Press, requires “business attire ... dress shirts, pants, socks, and shoes.” There’s no mention of ties, which some coaches have often gone without in recent years, but an exception is made for polo shirts as long as they are NBA-licensed and the head coach and all assistant coaches are wearing the same shirt.

The biggest change, though, is the masks, a decision made with safety in mind as the coronavirus pandemic rages on and NBA teams prepare to play in arenas again for the first time since last season was suspended on March 11 when Utah center Rudy Gobert tested positive.

“The NBA has always been a dynamic business and the challenges we face in society right now with COVID, it only amplifies the dynamic nature of our business," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, the president of the National Basketball Coaches Association, told AP on Tuesday night. “You have to be able to adapt, you have to be looking for solutions ... and we're going to make it work."

The NBA preseason begins Friday and the regular season starts Dec. 22. The NBCA discussed the changes in a call with the league Tuesday night, and some teams will begin traveling for preseason games Thursday.

“Wear a mask at all times," Carlisle said when asked how he's preparing for the challenges that will come with traveling again for games. “That's your No. 1 shield. And No. 2, be alert and follow the protocols. It's an incredible amount of work to not get COVID. You've got to work extremely hard to try to stay out of harm's way and there are never any guarantees. But if you work at it you have a chance."

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich wore masks for games in the bubble this past summer, as did former Houston coach Mike D’Antoni and former New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry. They are all 65 or older, and at more risk of contracting the virus based on guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.