EDITORIAL: NBA: Now Better Attired

As of Wednesday, the NBA got a little bit better looking – or at least a little better dressed.

NBA Commissioner David Stern announced on Oct. 17 that there would now be a league-wide business casual dress code whenever a player is participating in team or league activities, including arriving at games, leaving games, conducting interviews, making promotional and other appearances. Players who are injured, but still on the bench will have to wear a sports coat.

The dress code specifically bans sleeveless shirts, shorts, T-shirts, chains, pendants or medallions worn over the player’s clothes, sunglasses while indoors and headphones. The 2005 – 2006 NBA season began Tuesday, despite early complaints, everyone was in compliance with the new dress code, spare one or two minor incidents.

The editorial board endorses this new policy and is quite relieved to see Allen Iverson no longer looking like a wannabe gangsta rapper with a name like Lil’ Greezy Bastard.

These players are paid millions-upon-millions of dollars to play a sport. Even the newest rookie is guaranteed nearly $400,000 a year by league minimum requirements, with a ten-year veteran ensured $1.3 million. Comparatively speaking, a new suit costs around $325 from the Men’s Warehouse, including shoes. There isn’t a legit financial concern here.

It should also be noted that these athletes are “professional” basketball players, meaning this is their business. As such, it seems even less absurd to mandate business casual as their expected dress. Accounants and lawyers must maintain a professional dress, why not basketball players? At least basketball players get to change into shorts half way through the day and run around a little bit – a luxury not often experienced by an accountant during tax season.

There are, however, some legitimate complaints that the NBA is trying to be something it’s not. In an ESPN.com article, Suns guard Raja Bell said, “We sell to kids and people who are into the NBA hip-hop world. They may be marketing to the wrong people with this.”

Bell’s comments are absolutely correct. The NBA has been deeply indebted to the hip-hop tradition ever since NBA Jam for Sega Genesis used terms like “Boomshakalaka” to describe a great play. Current part owners of different NBA teams include Nelly, Jay-Z and Robert Johnson, former president of BET. More than a few players have recorded rap albums, but none any greater than Shaq’s albums. Shoot, the Philadelphia 76ers mascot, chosen arbitrarily, is an angry, thugged-out bunny named Hip Hop.

Hip-hop and basketball are clearly linked.

However, even by hip-hop standards, business casual might be acceptable. The days of matching running suits are gone from hip-hop and has been replaced by rappers/entrepreneurs who know how to dress for the part. Jay-Z, especially since he started dating Destiny Child’s star Beyonce Knowles, has been spotted more often in nice sweaters and suits. Kanye West, arguably one of rap’s biggest current stars has made collared polo shirts with little alligators on them “hood.” Thanks to West, now every fraternity boy in a pink polo is as down as 50 Cent.

The dress code is a good idea for basketball as a profession and may yet even prove to be a new extension on hip-hop, letting rappers and players, alike, explore all silk, pin-stripe suits like another “gangsta,” Tony Soprano.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.