Friday, October 28, 2005

Dress To Supress

Didn’t the NBA already have a dress code? They’re called uniforms, and the players wear them every time they go on the court. They’re also called warm-ups, and the players wear them at practice and in pre-game warmups. Dictating what players can wear to and from work? That seems more than a little extreme. It’s funny that the League can prevent high schoolers from joining, then at the same time treat the players already in the League like high schoolers.

I guess the biggest question I have is this: what is the dress code going to accomplish? Sure, it’ll appease the season ticket holders/corporate sponsors who theink the Diplomats are those people who get obscene parking privileges. But is it worth kow-towing to them at the expense of potentially alienating the youth? They already can’t afford to GO to the games, now you’re going to make their idols dress like middle management? Nope, I don’t get it.

The same League that can make players wear throwbacks (on “Hardwood Classics” nights) just prohibited them on the bus. Does that make any sense? Wear this on the court when you’re actually doing your job, but when you’re traveling to or from your job? Sorry, not allowed. How is this logical?

Not that I totally agree with the players, either. Marcus Camby’s statement that players should receive stipends for clothes, given the average NBA salary, goes straight past absurd to insulting. But when a fashion issue puts Allen Iverson and Tim Duncan on the same page on the opposing side, well, maybe it’s just a bad idea.

The basics of the deal are no jerseys or t-shirts, no jeans, sneakers or boots, sport coats, slacks and shoes, no chains outside the clothing. What I don’t understand is this—if this was such a problem why did it take this long? Allen Iverson accepted his MVP trophy in an XXXXXL t-shirt and a do-rag. Kobe wore jerseys to the Finals for like 5 games in a row, and it was actually its own story. Whenever Tim Duncan is hurt, he sits on the bench in a baggy, untucked shirt and jeans. I even saw him postgame once in a pair of Vans (don’t tell adidas). Who is this hurting? Who’s scared of the big bad NBA?

About the chains, hey, I’ve never been a big fan of ridiculous jewelry. The diamond industry has always been horrific, and more than enough NBA guys (see: Marbury, Stephon) have been jacked for their jewels. But if the NBA is going to pay these monster salaries, shouldn’t the players be allowed to flaunt it? What’s next, a $50,000 maximum rule on cars you can drive to the game? NO MORE BENTLEYS?

And that’s another issue. I’m not normally one to disparage a rule because of precedent—I don’t think that outlawing assault rifles will open the door for the government to outlaw anything more dangerous than a butter knife—but seriously, where does this go next? If a dress code has been put in because of people worrying that players look too “thuggish” (and I have to believe that’s the reason, does the NBA do away with cornrows next? Make players cover their tattoos?

What it goes back to, to me, is this: Yes, other jobs have dress codes. And the NBA already has one, in the uniforms the players must wear on the court. Given their jobs, and the money they make, the closest comparison to pro athletes are actors and rappers/rock stars. Do the studios and record labels control what their employees wear to work? No. As they shouldn’t. Nor should the NBA.


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Asher said...

Russ, got some splong there. I agree in principle to the dress code; however, basketball is a creative sport, and it's athletes should be allowed to express themselves through their clothing.

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Nelson Blake II said...

Wow. I seldom consider a subjective opinion wrong, but I have to disagree on every single point you've made here.

First of all, the NBA is only enforcing the dress code when the players are representing the NBA at NBA paid for events. That is well within their rights. If the players don't want to agree to that, they can simply no longer attend NBA events. Secondly, many teams already had dress codes, the Knicks being among them. They have just implemented a unified code which is less strict than most team dress regulations.

This idea of the players expressing themselves, flaunting their wealth and selling their fashions to a younger crowd is even more ridiculous. Just look at what you're saying. The players can express their feelings on fashion all they want when the NBA isn't paying for them to be seen. This idea of flaunting wealth is exactly the kind of selfish immature crap that has these guys ignoring coaches, forgetting how to pass and pouting on benches. And if they need to endorse their clothing, most of these guys have no trouble using commercials and print ads the same way the rest of the world does.

How about instead of thinking of themselves, these guys finally start thinking about their teams, their bosses, their coaches and all of their fans? Indulging the fifteen year olds that want to overspend on fashion trends to fit in isn't in line with that. Shutting up, following the league rules and focusing on winning games is what they need to do.

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