Dressed for success in the NBA? - East Valley Tribune: News

Dressed for success in the NBA?

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Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2005 11:07 am | Updated: 7:49 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Just so you know where this column comes from: I am a 45-year-old white man with two kids, a pound dog and a minivan. I'm about as hip-hop as Dick Cheney, and in my world a do-rag is something the wife hands me when she wants the kitchen counters cleaned.

In that sense, I fit far more comfortably in NBA commissioner David Stern's demographic than Allen Iverson's, so perhaps it's no surprise that I'm in favor of the NBA's new dress code.

Stern announced Monday that players must dress in “business casual attire” during team or league activities, and those who are on the bench and not in uniform must wear sports jackets, shoes and socks.

The fashion no-nos on Stern's list include sleeveless shirts, shorts, T-shirts and jerseys — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is going to have to buy a whole new wardrobe — headgear of any kind, jewelry worn over clothes and sunglasses while indoors.

As you might expect, the dress code isn't sitting well with many NBA players, who believe they're old enough to dress themselves, thank you.

"I think it's going outside of their jurisdiction to us,” said Suns point guard Steve Nash, whose usual game-day outfit is jeans and a T-shirt. “Definitely on the bench, I think they have every right to at least give us some ideas. I'll do it. I'll go with the majority. “But my personal view is that . . I think it's kind of up to the individual."

Others, like Charlotte Hornets point guard Brevin Knight and Denver Nuggets center Marcus Camby, said the league should give players a clothing allowance if it's going to insist they dress a certain way.

Oh, please. The minimum salary in the NBA last season was $385,000. I'm guessing a couple of suits won't put players in debt.

The more serious objection — and one Stern had to know was coming — is that the dress code is racially motivated because it targets black players who embrace the hip-hop culture.

Certainly, the hip-hop world is an urban phenomenon that appeals to a good number of black NBA athletes. It would be naive to suggest otherwise.

But the dress code is not as much about color as it is about business. The NBA has skewed young and urban, and while it can't turn back the clock, trying to attract a more diverse audience is a good business decision.

It's no secret the Baby Boomer generation — and Madison Avenue — feels more comfortable with Michael Jordan in Armani than Iverson in gold chains and a cap perched sideways on his head.

“There are some disconnects that have taken place,” Suns chairman Jerry Colangelo said. “We're not trying to avoid the hip-hop culture, but everybody has to be sensitive to the big picture. We're appealing to people from all walks of life and different economic status.”

Although I agree with Stern's decision, I can't help but consider the hypocrisy involved: All of a sudden the NBA has a problem with do-rags when rap music is blaring in arenas and the featured performer at the All-Star game last February was Destiny's Child.

As Suns forward Raja Bell told The Associated Press, ‘‘We sell to kids and people who are into the NBA hip-hop world.’’

Stern's concern, apparently, is that the NBA isn't selling to anyone else.

As I was debating the dress code's merits, one thought persisted: Is it asking too much of NBA players to dress professionally? If the Tribune asks me to meet and greet readers at a company-sponsored event, I'm not going to show up in shorts and flip-flops.

The NBA deserves the same respect from its employees.

“This is about how we would like people within the industry to conduct themselves and dress themselves appropriately,” Colangelo said.

That may sound old-fashioned in this era of sweatsuits and bling bling, but the players shouldn't mind a little Frank Sinatra between tracks of 50 Cent.

They may even discover a suit and tie can be as cool as baggy jeans and a San Diego Chargers throwback jersey.

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