A few readers have asked me in recent weeks if the Orlando Magic will allow Vince Carter to wear a headband while he plays. When the Magic promoted Otis Smith to General Manager, he banned headbands in order to cultivate a more professional appearance for his team.
At Media Day, I spoke to Smith about the no-headband rule, and if it would apply to Carter. Due to the casual nature of the conversation, I did not have my recorder running, so I cannot give direct quotes from Otis. But I'll do my best to recall the details accurately.
Smith said he had not really thought about the headband ban as it pertained to Carter, and that Carter had yet to approach him about wearing a headband. Thus, the rule wasn't really on his mind. Not that we should blame him for that, or anything, as he's spent his summer worrying about bigger and better things. Like improving his basketball team for instance.
But back to the story. I asked Otis why he implemented the ban, and asked if it had anything to do with DeShawn Stevenson, who is (to the best of my knowledge) the last Magic player to wear a headband while with the team. Smith chuckled, and said it did. His problem isn't with headbands in general--he recognizes that they have a utilitarian purpose--but rather with the manner in which some players wear them. He said Stevenson tended to wear his high on his head in such a manner that was not conducive to keeping sweat out of his face. According to Smith, Stevenson wore his headband as a fashion accessory, which was unacceptable.
(Aside: Stevenson's newest accessories are three new face tattoos (a backwards "P" for the Pittsburgh Pirates, his son's name, and a crack) and a neck tattoo (Abraham Lincoln's face). These additions make Stevenson's headband seem tame, no?)
After a bit more thought, Smith told me he'd probably let Carter wear his headband, provided that he does so in the traditional manner, and not as an accessory. In addition, for Vince to receive permission to wear a headband in games, he must also wear it during practices. After all, Smith said, if sweat gets in your face while practicing, it gets in your face during game. And if it bothers you enough to wear it in a game, then it should bother you enough to want to wear it in practices as well.
When I asked if Stevenson wore a headband during practice, Smith said he did not, and laughed.
Indeed it appears like the Magic will let Carter wear a headband as long as he agrees to wear it during practices. But I didn't get the impression that Smith would proactively offer it to him; Carter might have to ask first. And based on his no-nonsense approach to the coming season, it wouldn't surprise me if Carter never requests a headband. He'd much rather add a championship ring to his wardrobe.