By Russ Bengtson

Is it possible that, in the course of NBA history, there has been a dumber team rule than the Chicago Bulls banning their players from wearing headbands?

(There probably has been, actually. Not that I can think of one at the moment.)

But given that the biggest accomplishment of the rule was to immediately offend Ben Wallace, their biggest free agent signing ever, where were the offsetting positives? To have the team looking like—well, what DO they look like? College teams and high school teams wear headbands. So do half the players in the NBA. What does Bulls management plan on banning next? Tattoos? Tall socks? Bentleys? Point guards?

The funny thing is that Wallace was given an “exception” (gee, thanks!) to wear it this season by head coach Scott Skiles (at least that was the story) so it was assumed by many (or at least me) that when Skiles went, the rule would go with him.

Wrong.

New arrivals Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden both wore headbands during their tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and neither will be wearing them as members of the Chicago Bulls. Does this make sense? Treating an NBA team like the junior varsity? A curfew I could almost understand. Making sure players stay in shape, wear the right color uniform, put their socks on before their shoes, even eat their vegetables. Keep order, that’s great.

But headbands? Are they really that much of a problem? Is Allen Iverson a worse player because he wears a headband? Is Baron Davis? Is LeBron James? Is Eddy Cu—whoops, nevermind.

Sure, back in Michael Jordan’s (and John Paxson’s) day, hardly anyone wore headbands. They’re a phase, an utterly harmless affectation of the young, one that’ll eventually die off and everyone will wonder why the heck anyone ever wore them right up until the next time they come into style. Then Pax and whoever else is behind the stupid rule can breathe a deep sigh of relief and move to ban some other sign of visual disorder like cornrows or the Matadors.

If anything, headbands are a useful piece of gear, to keep sweat from dripping into your eyes (or, in Big Ben’s case, to keep his picked-out Afro from going all over the place). Just look at Drew Gooden. The man NEEDS a headband. With that head and that beard you just know he’s sweating all over the place. What if sweat were to drip into his eyes at a key moment and make him miss a free throw, eliminating the Bulls from the playoffs?

Oh, that’s right, the Bulls aren’t going to MAKE the playoffs. They have bigger fish to fry.

NOTE: The Jazz have a no-headband rule as well, instituted by ornery head coach (and former Bull) Jerry Sloan. Was there some sort of horrible headband-related incident in Chicago back in the ‘60s that I’ve never heard about? Or should we just blame it all on Jim McMahon?